One of the most fun guests at Fango’s recent Weekend of Horrors in New Jersey was Joe Lynch, the diehard horror fan who makes his feature directorial debut with the much-anticipated DVD sequel WRONG TURN 2: DEAD END. At the show, he gave us the scoop about what we can expect on the disc, coming “between October 8 and October 10” (per Fox Home Entertainment’s instructions to Lynch on how to discuss the street date). “It’s not absolutely 100 percent confirmed, just because they’re processing it all now,” he tells us, “but the unbelievably unrated version of the DVD—I tried to get ‘Unbelievably’ on there, but it wouldn’t fit on the cover—boasts three commentaries: one by the writers [Turi Meyer and Al Septien], one by me and actors Henry Rollins and Erica Leerhsen and a more technical, very geeky one by myself. There are, I believe, four separate documentaries, and two or three Easter eggs floating around.
“I just feel like no one does Easter eggs anymore; no one’s going, ‘How can we slip something really f**ked up and nasty in there?’ ” Lynch continues. “The movie is fun, like a rollercoaster ride, and I wanted at the very least some special features where people would laugh a little bit and go, ‘That’s messed up, that’s cool.’ There is one about a certain character getting hit in the dong a lot, and the other is the video feed that you see in the film of another guy getting his head cut off. It’s shown raw, but I specifically designed it not to exploit the kind of viral Internet beheadings that came out a couple of years ago. There’s something about those that’s very impactful, so I wanted to kind of tap into that without being too exploitative.”
The movie itself shows no such restraint, gleefully pouring on the gore with, as Lynch tells it, the full approval of the studio. “When I set out to make the movie, they told me, ‘Go for it, but do it on budget,’ ” the director reveals. “They knew that it was going to be unrated no matter what; it was specifically budgeted, scheduled and made as a DVD premiere. What’s really gratifying, though, is that when they saw the finished film, they went, ‘This could actually go theatrical.’ That was my goal, although frankly, I’ve always felt the movie shouldn’t go theatrical, because it’s not worth making a $4-million film and then spending $10 million on marketing. But they basically said, ‘This movie is allowed to be unrated, so you might as well go for it.’
“And really, it always came down to the money,” he continues. “I would keep coming up with these f**ked-up ideas, and call them and say, ‘Can I put the vegan in a pen and tie her up with razor wire and then feed her entrails?’ ‘Suuuurrrrre, can you do it on budget?’ Or, ‘I want this shot to really be where you feel like the entrails are coming out of her vagina. Can I get away with that?’ Long pause. ‘Can we do it on budget?’ And really, that was it.”
From the beginning, Lynch intended WRONG TURN 2 to be a throwback to the outrageous, splatterific low-budget fright fare he grew up enjoying. “This movie is ’80s,” he says. “It’s a true splatter film; horror films are horror films, but splatter films are their own unique little beast, where you do a more over-the-top kind of gore and inject a little more action, still thinking about how you can frighten the audience as much as you can, but with a sense of humor. It’s just like Mike Dougherty said about [his film] TRICK ’R TREAT; it’s good that you can have a movie where people get scared and laugh or get shocked and laugh at the same time. Laughter is really nervous catharsis for a lot of people, so that was the whole goal.”
With HOSTEL: PART II and other extreme horror films reaping disappointing box-office returns this year, the conventional wisdom is that graphic gore is on its way out. But there were no repercussions when it came to how Fox perceived WRONG TURN 2. “If anything, I got a call saying, ‘Do you have any more gore that we could put in?’ ” Lynch notes. “Look, everyone wants to either jump on the bandwagon about horror being hot, or they want to be the first ones to slam it when it’s not. Horror will never die; it’s just about finding the niches where we can push ourselves creatively, with ambition, and still affect the audience. The fact that torture porn was there between 2002 and now was really, to me, a reflection of our times. It’s a reflection of the fact that we’re in a war, we’re watching graphic beheadings in broad daylight, we’re seeing refugees being manhandled and tortured, And frankly, now that things are changing, I think the tide of what is effective horror to people will change too. I honestly feel like people are going to want to go and have fun in horror movies again—not just go and say, ‘I wanna be shocked.’ ”