Unleashed on DVD and download on 20th October 2014 See No Evil 2 sees WWE Superstar Glenn “Kane” Jacobs reprising his role from the 2006 horror movie See No Evil as the psychopathic mass-murderer Jacob Goodnight; this time terrorising a group of people hosting a birthday bash in an inner-city morgue, with hooks, surgical knives, and power saws.
In order to celebrate the release of See No Evil 2 on DVD, Matt (@TheMattWheeldon) sat down with directors Jen and Sylvia Soska; the twins known for their visceral horror work, including Dead Hooker In A Trunk and American Mary; to discuss the film, Glenn Jacobs/Jacob Goodnight, their upcoming work, and everything from Stephen King, to video games, comic books, and feminism.
How are you both doing?
Sylvia: We’re just finishing up Vendetta so we’ve had a wonderful afternoon of murdering people.
We’ve been hearing a bit about Vendetta recently (the Twins’ next movie – where an ex-cop gets himself sent to prison in order to kill the men responsible for killing his wife). You’ve got a pretty good cast for that one.
Sylvia: We’ve got Dean Cain like you’ve never seen him before; because people are so used to seeing him play such wholesome roles…
Jen: Like Superman…
Sylvia: To see him go to such a dark primal place; I think people are going to be really excited; it’s just a little more exciting to see him murder an entire prison because… well, you don’t expect Dean Cain to call someone a “motherfucker” and then beat their face in.
Jen: You expect him to kill people with his smile, not with his fists. And the Big Show [wrestler and Vendetta star Paul White] is just such an amazing actor; I take so much offence when people just think the wrestlers can’t act, because he is so evil in this. He does a lot of slapstick comedy, but in this you’re only laughing because he’s so awful [to the other characters].
Sylvia: He’s going to get a lot of work after this. And we’ve also got Michael Eklund who’s one of my favourite actors on the planet.
Jen: He’s wonderful. He had a tiny part in See No Evil 2 simply because he didn’t have a schedule available for a longer part.
Mind, the cast for See No Evil 2 wasn’t bad either.
Sylvia: Oh my gosh no, and I can’t believe that’s the first one Katharine Isabelle (Freddy vs. Jason) and Danielle Harris have worked on together. And Chelan Simmons, a lot of people don’t know she started in IT as a very little girl, before she did Final Destination  and Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, so we got three chicks ready to take on Jacob Goodnight, and he’s huge. So you really need the backup.
And it was a good way to carry the story on after the first movie.
Jen: It was very much like Halloween 2; we decided to pick it up right from where it was, and that’s very much [writers] Nathan Brookes and Bobby Lee Darby who did the script; and it was initially going to be the Halloween 2 of See No Evil.
Sylvia: I hope we can do seven of them; with each being a day. So it’s just Jacob Goodnight having like the craziest week-long bender possible.
Rather than Michael Myers [from the Halloween franchise] I actually thought Jacob was a lot more like Jason Voorhees, from the Friday the 13th movies.
Sylvia: Thank you! That’s a huge compliment. In the first one he was just wearing slacks and a t-shirt…
Jen: It was so hard to look at him and be like “that’s Jacob Goodman”, and I don’t think they even said his name in the first one; people thought his name was Jacob Good-knife.
Sylvia: Gregory Dark [director of the first See No Evil] – great at porn, but he was still figuring out how to direct non-porn films.
Jen: [laughing] It does explain all of his extreme close-up shots though!
So what was the biggest challenge, trying to carry on from the first film?
Jen: When you’re doing a sequel, especially a sequel to a film which had a few missed opportunities, you’re trying to work against what people expect, and think they know with the original. You can’t entirely re-create the character, because there are some things; like the overbearing religious mother, and him losing an eye, and him dying at the end… Oh my God… why would you kill somebody like that? What if you want to resurrect him ever? So that was a huge challenge.
“I just love torturing people… guess that’s the Sam Raimi/Bruce Campbell in me.”
– Sylvia Soska
That was another thing which reminded my of Friday the 13th, the way Jacob just keeps on going like Jason did.
Sylvia: He really does, and that wasn’t difficult for me. If you ask the cast it was much more difficult for them because they had their asses handed to them; I remember Danielle’s then fiancee, now husband, was asking “can you go a little bit easy on Danielle?” and it was just like “No man! She’s getting fuckin’ tortured.”
She was telling me how she’s going to have a family eventually so she can’t keep doing movies like this, and I said “well why can’t you do one while you’re pregnant?”, and she said “because I’m actually going through being chased by a psychopath and murdered; I don’t want that to be the first instance of my child’s life”, and it was just like “oh… yeah, that’s right.”
Jen: This film was so emotionally exhausting for her, even though Danielle is such a badass; she is so tough; I would put money on her against anybody.
Sylvia: You know Kaj [Kaj-Erik Eriksen, 88 Minutes], who plays Seth in the movie? He had to take some painkillers because he landed on his shoulder, he rolled his elbow, and he smashed his fist, and they were such keeners that he had a stunt double, a really good one, but he wanted to do his own stunts, and it looks good if you beat the shit out of your actors; I guess that’s the Sam Raimi/Bruce Campbell in me… I just love torturing people.
Jen: During his second-to-last fight, the part in the office, where he punched his fist against the wall; I kept having him do it over and over again, not realising his fist was getting so swollen by the end of it because he kept method-acting punching it
Sylvia: And just to make it worse, we then had Glenn smush his hand afterwards with his giant foot.
Jen: Towards the last takes I kept screaming “Kaj… hit it harder! Hit it harder!” and that was already his bruised fist, and he was just smacking it.
Sylvia: Everybody was bruised by the end of it! Lee Majdoub who plays Carter, and Katy who plays Tamara, during their sex scene I was like “lets have this girl fucking owning him” so they had bruises all up and down their thighs. Poor Lee, that was his first sex scene in a movie.
Jen: I’d blame Katy, because she’s used to riding horses, and that just doesn’t translate into love making.
You had a lot of fun on set then?
Jen: We did. We try to always have a positive atmosphere because when you’re working so hard either you can be having a great time, or you can be having a shitty time, and the thing is… we get to make movies! We get to play pretend as our jobs, and that’s dream come true for everybody.
On the other side of it, we’re both failed actresses and I’ve been on sets where people are screaming and cussing at me and I never want our cast to have that kind of environment.
Sylvia: So it’s always a very nice, happy, positive environment, that way you can just push the boundaries of the creative filmmaking more, because it’s more fun.
Jen: And it becomes like a family, as it should, because you’re spending so much time together away from your other families…
Sylvia: I guess your real families[?]
Not for you two… you can’t get away from that…
Jen/Sylvia: *simultaneously* No!
Jen: We never stop working, and thank God we have each other because that’s our only social friendship we are able to maintain; all our friends are people we’ve worked with.
Sylvia: And honestly I don’t know how a solo director does it, because there’s the two of us and we’re running around like FUCKING crazy. When people are like “there’s one director” I’m like “Oh my God”…
Jen: Bless them…
Sylvia: That would kill me.
Jen: People always ask us if we’d work separately, and I’m like “No!”; that just seems like twice as much work… She’ll take half the load thanks!
“Before we worked together I was a huge Kane fan. Now I’m a Glenn Jacobs fan”
– Jen Soska
You both compliment each other pretty well then?
Sylvia: Yeah, Jen’s wonderful at talking to people, and she’s very articulate with detail. So she’s really into the prosthetics and all of the little minute things, whereas me… I don’t even call people by their real names, I just call them by their character names and I’ve become like the weird artist; if you want to talk about the recession or radical feminism you find Sylvia, if you want to tell someone about your day you go find Jen because Sylvia is just gonna tune out within two seconds.
Jen: Sylv is so darkly creative, but because she’s such a creative person she’s very tunnel visioned with what she wants from the film, and what she wants from her cast, and if somebody comes over and is like “hey my dog’s sick” it’s like “No. Mary doesn’t have a dog, I don’t care what your dog is, it’s only the character that matters.” It makes her such a creative person, and all the fucked up things that happen in our movies are from her; she created Beatress Johnson from American Mary, and she just pulled that out of nowhere, I don’t even know how that came to exist.
Sylvia: But you’re funny…
Jen: I am funnier…
Sylvia: The movies would be unwatchable without Jen’s ridiculous humour. Like the scene [in See No Evil 2] with Jacob and Tamara going on top of him; we really had to get information out for the people who didn’t see the first movie, but also realised Kane’s pretty sexy, and he gets kissed by all the divas on the wrestling show, so we were like “how can Katy kiss Glenn? How can we make that happen?”
Jen: Glenn is such a Tennessee gentleman but if he looked online to see what women say about him…
Sylvia: Oh My God! It’s… it’s…
Jen: It’s not even flirtatious… It’s downright rape-y.
Sylvia: Well he is from hell; everyone wants it to be like hardcore fetish-like.
Jen: But he’s so nice.
Sylvia: And he’s such a gentleman. I remember before the scene I asked Katy if she felt comfortable and she was like “I don’t know, blah blah, it’s kind of weird”, and as a joke I asked Glenn “are you comfortable?” and he’s like “well not really”, and I was like “oh haha”, and he was like “I have daughters that age, it’s kind of gross”, and I was like “you’re the only man who would say that.
So you two had a bit of a crush on him then?
Sylvia: Of course!
Jen: Oh yeah! We were always Undertaker and Kane women… Well actually she liked Shawn Michaels.
Sylvia: Ah Shawn Michaels: The Heartbreak Kid, but no Glenn and us have become really good friends and you couldn’t imagine more different people to be friends. If it wasn’t for the magic of filmmaking I don’t think Glenn would ever talk to people like us, but I think that’s a good things for creative collaborations because you all bring different elements to things.
Jen: Before we worked together I was a huge Kane fan. Now I’m a Glenn Jacobs fan; I love him, the person, so much.
Sylvia: He’s like a big brother.
Jen/Sylvia: *Laughs* Very Big. Massive.
I love the fact you found a way to put Kane back in a mask as well.
Sylvia: Oh thank you!
Jen: Thank you! It was so important for us. The first thing we did when we were hired was look at the message boards and found there were two things that people wanted: one was for him to wear a mask, and…
Sylvia: *laughing* Number two, was that Vince McMahon [WWE CEO], for the first movie, wanted him to have a 3-foot penis.
Jen: I don’t know why.
Sylvia: It was his only suggestion, and we kept trying to find a way to put that in there…
Jen: Or like a joke or a nod to it, but that’s just… well I don’t even know…
“We never worry about censorship… that’s for our bosses to worry about.”
– Jen & Sylvia Soska
Sylvia: But the mask we could do! It was fun because we got to look for things which are used in a morgue, so we got a burn mask where it’s still a mask, but it’s clear; so you can still see the performance behind it.
Jen: It’s disgusting to think it comes off with all that burnt tissue, and he just throws it on and wears it.
Sylvia: That was from Masters FX, the same guys who did American Mary. I just thought it was super brilliant. I wish I could steal it. If it goes missing don’t tell anyone, but it’s ours!
So do you tend to work with a lot of the same people?
Sylvia: I tend to. We have the same crew for everything. We had the same crew for See No Evil 2, ABC’s of Death 2, Vendetta, and it’s just how I like working with Jen; we can feel what each other needs, we can talk without having to talk; and that’s really helpful when you have these giant ambitious projects, but you need to get them done within whatever vicious constraints you have. That goes for cast and crew; you’ll see Katy constantly, Michael Eklund, Tristan Risk.
Jen: I’d really say we’re actors’ directors; because we’ve had a background in acting, we form really strong relationships with our cast. Also it becomes one less thing you have to worry about; I know what Katy is capable of doing, Katharine Isabelle is capable of doing anything, she just forgets that she is sometimes, and then you have Michael Eklund who’s just such a wonderful actor that anything I get anything I say “is there a role for Michael Eklund? I think this should be Michael Eklund.” Because he’s like a Canadian Daniel Day Lewis; there’s nothing Michael Eklund can’t do.
Sylvia: And anything that’s creature, or prosthetic, or supernatural, or just bat-shit crazy is always Tristan Risk, because there’s not a thing you can say to that woman where she’ll go “I don’t want to do that.” In our segment “T is for torture porn” I asked her to play a tentacle-rape monster, and before I even finished telling her what it was she was like “is it a tentacle-rape monster?!?” And it’s like she came right out of my brain.
How do you come up with things like that?
Jen: “I think we’re insane. It’s not just movies we watch, but we read a lot of graphic novels and play a lot of video games, because we feel some of the greatest stories ever told are locked in video games and comic books, and it’s really sad that some people close themselves off to those forms of entertainment. Not everyone will know what happens in the Metal Gear Solid franchise, or Silent Hill, or Final Fantasy…
I agree totally, and have just been playing through The Last Of Us again…
Jen: Are you excited about The Last Of Us film they’re making?
Ish. It’s great Sam [Raimi] is doing it, but it’s hard to tell how it’ll go. It would’ve worked far better as a mini-series.
Jen/Sylvia: Oh yeah! Oh my God…
Sylvia: Like a TV event?
Jen: That would be great a TV event, or they could just stretch it out to a full TV series. One thing I do hate when they translate video games and comic books is the way they alter it so much, because I feel that’s not the story I fell in love with, that’s not the story that was a success, and now nobody will ever know that story.
Knowing you’re both big Stephen King fans, how do you feel about the adaptations of his work?
Sylvia: It’s so weird, because you think if a Stephen King film was adapted it should be fucking awesome but so often it just misses the mark completely.
Jen: They are so hit and miss, and I think unfortunately the reason behind that is because Stephen King is such an established name that if his name is on something you know people will see it; the people handling it will think “it’ll make this much at the Box Office, or people will tune in this much to the TV mini series” and they don’t put the appropriate amount of effort in. But if you look at something like Shawshank, or The Green Mile, and they’re brilliant. Even though The Shining was different to how Stephen King intended, his TV movie of The Shining was brutal…
Sylvia: But I hear Mike Flanagan, who did Oculus and Absentia, is doing Gerald’s Game, and he has such a beautiful artistic view of things I think that could be one of the ones which hits perfectly. We would love to do Gerald’s Game.
“If you’re going to make a movie… pick a title like Dead Hooker In A Trunk“
– Jen Soska
So if you could adapt any Stephen King novel, it’d be Gerald’s Game?
Sylvia: You know what, I think we would pick Desperation. It’s so good. It’s so amazing. It’s just so dark, and reading it’s like anybody can die at any point; and I loved that.
Jen: I loved The Stand too; I heard they’re remaking that as a TV series; but there’s one book I read when I was really really sick, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon; I sat there sick as fuck as a kid reading through all of it, and nobody has made it; but it’d need a really strong child actor to make The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon.
Jen/Sylvia: Actually any Stephen King!
Jen: If someone said “Hey, you’re going to make… another Carrie…”
Sylvia: No. No Carrie. Carrie has been done. I just don’t like remakes. There’s all this creativity, and new ideas and I just think “why don’t we tackle some of those?”
Jen: What about The Langoliers? That deserves to be remade. It was such a piece of shit. And Bag Of Bones, did you see that on TV? That was a piece of shit.
When you’re making films, do you ever worry about censorship, or what ratings you’re movie will get?
Jen/Sylvia: *laughing* No. That’s for our bosses to worry about.
Jen: With our studio films, we will suggest our most extreme content, knowing full well that if you’re doing something mainstream you can’t make that type of film; as much as I’d like to, and as much as people say “you should push the limits”; you have been hired to do a job by somebody, and maybe they don’t want to see… child rape. Maybe that’s not what they’re going for.
Sylvia: That’s a big turn off.
Jen: When you’ve been asked to do something you have to behave appropriately, but you can push as much as you’d like.
Sylvia: There are just so many ideas, you don’t always have to be the most extreme. But it’s so funny, because in ABC’s of Death 2, when we did T is For Torture Porn, our producers were like “do you want to make it more extreme?” and I was like “YEAH!” Sometimes you get opportunities like that. We’re going to be collaborating with one of our favourite comic book writers, Daniel Way, and it is so uncensored what we’re doing; we’re doing it first as a comic book (it’ll have to exist in that form, before we can try it as a television thing, or a movie), because people will have to have some sort of source material because it’s just so batshit crazy.
Jen: But we’d also make a Pixar movie, we would make a children’s movie. I just don’t know what that would look like, and don’t know if anyone would give us that opportunity.
Sylvia: We’re trying to make a kids movie because we meet so many kids that like us, but they’ve never seen what we do. I guess they just like the whole halloween-twin-chick thing, and maybe they’ve seen trailers. Although a six-year-old saw American Mary at one of the screenings, and afterwards I her saw parents carrying her out crying. I said… “did she… like it?” they said “she loved it”, but I don’t know about that!
I have this idea, called Halloween House, because Robert Rodriguez did something for kids, and when I was a little kid I would have liked to have watched horror movies, so we want to make something smart, that kids can watch, but something which is still hardcore, it’s not pussy…
Jen: Kinda like Stand By Me. With less cussing, so kids could actually watch it. But the kids act so naturally in Stand By Me, and you find with a lot of films nowadays kids are either way too smart and adult like, or they’re way too juvenile.
So is there any chance you’ll be making See No Evil 3, would you?
Sylvia: I would love to. It just follows on the next day, like one crazy week of Jacob’s life until See No Evil 7, where finally, finally, someone would put him in the ground.
Jen: We were touring with Zack Lipovsky and Hornswoggle with Leprechaun, and Hornswoggle said “I don’t want to do another Leprechaun movie”, and then Glenn [Jacobs] said “I would go into space, and a ‘hood.’ So I don’t know if we’re going to have Jacob Goodnight helping some at-risk youth in a basketball thing or something but the possibilities are endless. I’d like to see him go to Burning Man.
Sylvia: I’d love him to go to Burning Man, and just figure his shit out.
Jen: What about if he went to a rave? How fucking scary would that be?
Sylvia: There are just so many places he could go, and now we’ve delved into his strengths and how he kills people, I’d like to up the ante a bit; put him against big boys his size and see what happens.
You both seem pretty proud of the fact you’re females who’ve broken into a typically male-dominated profession with directing, particularly in the horror genre. Would you class yourselves as feminists?
Sylvia: Oh definitely. Feminist has become a bit of a dirty word, but it’s just equal rights; that’s all it is. Just to be treated the same, no better, no worse. And it’s not like “fuck men”, because then you’re just making it the opposite against another gender. I think everybody who doesn’t hate women is a feminist. You just want them to be treated the same. Everyone fell out of a woman at some point, so there has to be some sort of respect for them.
Jen: Absolutely, and even though I don’t start a film with a feminist agenda, I feel it’s important to be outspoken about feminist issues because we have a platform to do so, and given the influence we have, and the growing influence we have, we have a responsibility to use that influence for good. Like Superman.
Sylvia: Like Superman!
Jen: Or Supergirl.
“We make movies… that’s a dream come true for everybody”
– Jen Soska
So what advice would you give to female director’s trying to break into the business?
Sylvia: The best advice is, for your first film… don’t wait for somebody to give you money for it, just go and do it yourself. Figure out the most high-budget items you can get for free; if your friend has a bar, someone’s got a horse, someone’s got a kid, figure out how to do a story around that. You are going to be made fun of, and people are going to laugh in your face your entire life, it still happens to me and Jen, just do not give up! Because once you give up, that’s the end of it, and people who don’t have that kind of dream and ambition would rather shit on someone elses dream than do it themselves.
Jen: I’d also say you need to really be honest with yourself; if you love filmmaking as much as you love teaching, go be a teacher.
Sylvia: Absolutely. If there’s something else you love just as much as directing, and film, then go do that instead, because filmmaking and directing is the hardest job in the world.
Jen: You really have to want it. There will be times when you starve, when you feel like crap, when you’re down to your last dollar and you’ve borrowed money from everyone that you care about…
Sylvia: But that means you’re going good! That’s a part of it…
Jen: It does, but the thing is it happen with every director; and the director’s who say “I got picked up and everything was fine, I made lots of money” are full of shit, they’re lying. The most important books any filmmaker can get is Robert Rodriguez’s Rebel Without A Crew; it’s what he wrote when he was making El Mariarchi, and he gives you the highs and he gives you the lows, and it’s a really honest recounting of how he went and he started with nothing. He donated his body to scientific testing; he had skin grafts, and things; just to make the budget for the film. And Lloyd Kaufman’s Make Your Own Damn Movie. And don’t let anyone say you can’t do it. We’re living proof you can do it. Just always stick with it, always be creating, and you’ll succeed.
Sylvia: And put your own spin on it, don’t make a movie for anybody else, make it because of your own sensibilities but don’t make it so far up your own ass that nobody else can watch it.
Jen: And pick a title like Dead Hooker In A Trunk, because you need a title where people will be like “what’s that!?! I want to pick that up.” If you make a movie called “The Wind That Blows The Grass”… c’mon, you’re doing yourself a disservice. The reason Dead Hooker In A Trunk was such a successful title was because people would get a strong emotional reaction , they would remember it, and they would think “hey I want to see that.”
See No Evil 2 is out now on DVD and Download.