SDCC 2012: A Chat With The Guys From HATCHET 3
One of the things about going to San Diego Comic Con, is you should never fully lock down your schedule. There will always be last minute opportunities that can fall into your lap. The Dark Sky press event for HATCHET 3 was that last minute opportunity for me. When I left for San Diego, I actually had no clue Dark Sky was holding a press event for HATCHET 3 as the movie hasn’t even finished production yet! Well, lo’ and behold, the Dark Sky people were able to squeeze me into their schedule and I sat down with Adam Green (Writer/Producer), BJ McDonnell (Director), Zach Galligan (Sheriff Fowler) and Kane Hodder (Victor Crowley) for a somewhat candid conversation about what looks to be the biggest installment of the HATCHET series yet.
So HATCHET 2 immediately picks up from the first one. Is it safe to say HATCHET 3 immediately picks up from where HATCHET 2 ended?
BJ McDonnell – Immediately, yes.
Then I suppose it’s further safe to say Danielle Harris is returning as Marybeth?
BJ McDonnell- Yes.
Adam Green – Now, here’s the thing to remember for people that are like, “How are they going to do that?”. It was explained multiple times in HATCHET 2, Victor Crowley is a repeater which means every night he’s going to come back in the same state he was in. That’s why he looks the same. As soon as that sun goes down, he’s back looking for his father. Now, in HATCHET 2, Reverend Zombie thought he had figured out the way to get rid of him which was by letting him have revenge against the three kids and set the house on fire. Only to learn in the last two minutes, one of those kids died of Leukemia years ago. So yeah, Danielle is blowing his head off but what is that really going to do? So, that’s all I’ll say for now. One of the things that we’re most excited about developing this character is he’s a ghost! He’s paranormal.
BJ McDonnell- You can kind of go all over.
Adam Green – You can go so many places with that. In this one, now it’s not just Marybeth being like, ‘I’m going to go back and find my family and have revenge.’ It’s like, ‘How do we actually stop this thing!?’ There’s got to be a way to stop this voodoo curse. It gets much more into, like, the voodoo lore of things. That’s, from a writing standpoint, what I’ve been really happy about with these movies is….the first one was like Slasher 101. A group of people get into these situations and this is what happens. I purposefully held back on information so each movie has a purpose. You’re learning something new. It’s elevating. It’s going somewhere else. This one’s certainly no different.
How’s the experience been in passing the proverbial director’s baton over to BJ?
Adam Green – It’s been awesome.
Did it take some of the pressure off?
BJ McDonnell – I don’t know if it took any of the pressure off.
Adam Green – There was more pressure in a lot of ways. Because I produced the other two as well. I don’t take a credit on screen for those two but this time I am. Obviously, it’s my baby and I still care about it just as much as I ever did. I’m the one who made the choice to bring him on. I’m the one who told Dark Sky, “Trust me on this!” Part of the deal was, as long as we can say “Adam Green Presents” over it, you can have the director you want. My name’s above that title! This movie’s got to be fucking good! And so…no pressure! So, I wanted to show that I made the right choice and I did in spades. Every night I was like, “He’s fucking killing it! He’s fucking killing it!” He just did such a good job because it was seamless. He was there, every shot of every other movie doing it with Will (Barratt) and I. The crew, the cast, they already know him. There weren’t those two days of challenging the new guy and figuring him out. But most importantly, he didn’t come into this with some ego like, “I’m the guy who did SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT 9 and now I’m gonna make this my bitch!” He’s already a part of The Hatchet Family. So he’s just taking the baton and going with it but now there’s two of us running and just fucking people up as we go and it was awesome! No challenging. No fighting. No arguing. It was like, how do we help each other make this better? He had input on the script. What do we do about this? What do we do about that? It’s been such an awesome collaboration and, we’re not done yet, but I think this is going to be the best out of the three. It’s definitely my favorite script out of the three. It’s the biggest out of the three. It has the most action out of the three. I mean, you never know until it’s done and I know the fans are very fickle, especially with the fact that I’m not directing…but I still wrote it and came up with all of it. I was there, I produced it and I have final say. I don’t need to worry and it’s in the best hands.
BJ McDonnell – If it was somebody that doesn’t even care about it and they just said, “Hey, you want to direct HATCHET 3? Oh we got this guy!” You know, to do a movie like this, you have to have your heart and soul into it like we both do. As the director of the first and second one, obviously he’s got more into it. But, you know, when I look at it, we came up with a lot of the shots together. Myself, Adam and Will would be like, “How do we do this?” “Oh, okay, well what about this?” You know, we would do that. The whole time, it’s always been a collaboration. Even into the script of this one, we sat down and came up with where it’s going to go, what he wanted out of it and what I wanted out of it, what we can do together. The kills and the things like that, we just all worked together on it. It’s a great thing. And it’s more of a friend basis where you can actually shoot the shit if you want and be like, “Dude, that’s totally lame. Your idea sucks.” You know, and no one gets offended by it. You know what I mean?
Adam Green – We just want to make a good movie.
Adam Green – That’s how I’ve always done things. Fourteen years now, it’s been a lot of the same people. Sometimes there might be a new person but that’s because the other person was unavailable or whatever but we have such a great pool of people to choose from. We also met a lot of new people on this one, because we shot it out of town.
BJ McDonnell – Really good people.
Adam Green – Really good people! Our physical effects guy that does all the explosions and fire works David Nash is amazing. Our production designer on this one, Jay Hinkle, who worked on DOG DAY AFTERNOON?
BJ McDonnell – He worked on CHINATOWN.
Adam Green – CHINATOWN! I mean, the guy literally came out of retirement to do this because he loved the idea of seeing a crew person getting their shot at the director’s chair. That normally doesn’t happen. People think there’s a ladder you climb. I was bursting at the seams. We met up at Cape Cod and I already knew that we already discussed that he (BJ) should be the guy but he didn’t know that yet and I just casually bring it up while we’re playing mini golf and eating ice cream.
BJ McDonnell – It was like the most un-metal event ever.
And just to be clear, this was the first time you’ve directed a feature film?
BJ McDonnell – I did short films and things like that in film school but actually directing a feature, this was the first time. But I’ve been on a lot of features as a camera operator, many movies. But having the story in hand and having a responsibility like this? Yeah. Yes, this was the first one.
Adam Green – But you never would have known it. He was amazing.
Zach Galligan is new to the HATCHET world. What is his involvement in this installment?
Adam Green – He’s one of the main characters. Zach plays the sheriff in the small parish of Jefferson Parish and ends up sort of getting thrust into this whole situation that everyone else thought was an urban legend and has to deal with it. One of the things about the characters in this, you know, in the first one it was a bunch of comedians with purposefully fitting stereotypes we were making fun of. In the second one, it was a lot of purposefully flawed people. But this time, there’s a lot of very good people that get put through a really horrible situation and that was one of the reasons why we went with Zach. Just look at his face. He’s such a kind and real person…
BJ McDonnell – Unlike Kane over there…
Adam Green – …who gets thrown into a horrible situation…
BJ McDonnell – ….I mean look at his face!
Adam Green – He’s such a pro on everything from studio movies to small stuff. Also, he’s an acting teacher. He was the only variable for us, because every other actor in here, the parts were written for them and we already knew them. We didn’t really know Zach and he could have shown up and been this diva and be like, “I was in fucking GREMLINS!” But he was such a leader in spirit and, well, just in everything. Plus, the fact that he would let me relentlessly ask him GREMLINS questions and never get sick of it! Every time BJ yelled cut, I’d slip in there and be like, “Okay, so the scene in GREMLINS 2…” He would just politely answer my question. I mean, right now I could totally ask him a GREMLINS question and he would totally answer.
(At this point, Adam leans over and shouts to the next table over where Zach Galligan and Kane Hodder are in the middle of an interview with another outlet.)
Adam Green- Hey Zach! Do you have a Mogwai at home?
(Without missing a beat, Zach answered and then immediately continued with his interview.)
Zach Galligan – Nope.
Adam Green – See!? He’s the best guy ever!
BJ McDonnell – Especially shooting in a real swamp like we did and not knowing Zach, you know, we’re about to throw someone on the ground and in the mud and have them go through all this physical activity…and if you don’t know someone and you don’t know if they’re going to be able to pull that off or do that or not, you know? So, luckily for us we got someone that was all gung ho and just wanted to kick ass.
Adam Green – Just one complainer and the whole thing unravels.
With all that went down with HATCHET 2, what’s the game plan with this installment? Is there a theatrical release planned?
Adam Green – There is. I don’t know, it’s still too soon. We still have another week of shooting at the end of the month. I think….I THINK….this is all speculation right now, but I imagine what Dark Sky is probably going to do is do very select advanced screenings of the film so we don’t have to deal with the MPAA. There’s no winning there. And do something in like New York and Chicago or L.A. or whatever and have the cast there, blow it out, do a big thing. Then, I’d really like to get it to things like VOD, DVD and Blu Ray as quickly as possible because that’s where everybody can get it. When you do these limited releases, you then have to wait like thirty or ninety days and the fans are just like, “Come on! I’m reading about this and I’m not going to drive six states over!” Although, some do, just to see it in the theater. After what happened last time, which was just a travesty…one of the biggest crimes in cinema ever….and the fact that so many people in Hollywood – studio execs, directors, you know, called me personally saying, “I can’t believe we’re watching this happen right now.” But there’s nothing you can do about it and for me as the little fish in the small pond, continually trying to swim back and be like, “They’re assassinating my movie! They’re pulling it from theaters!” I just couldn’t win. And we had like CNN and all these people calling saying it was ridiculous and censorship and tried to get me to speak out. But I had a team of lawyers and managers telling me to not speak out or say another word. You can’t win. It happened. That’s it. At the time, people were like, “You know what? It’ll probably make the movie more popular because now you got this stigma attached to it.” But it’s not a movie that needed it. It’s not this disturbing horrific movie. I’m scared of that. Now people are going to go into it like, “Oh man, I’m going to see dogs get raped!” It’s just a fun movie. I still can’t look at it like it was a good thing. It’s the worst thing that I’ve gone through.
And here I go ending our interview on a depressing note.
BJ McDonnell – Way to go, dude!
Adam Green – BUT we learned from it and Dark Sky had my back through the whole thing. It would have been so easy for them to go, “Well now look what happened! We just lost our shirt with this movie getting pulled!” And they didn’t. Then of course, on DVD the movie exploded. You couldn’t find it in stores within like two hours of it coming out. So this one is just going to be a little more strategic but we do want to try and get it to the fans as fast as possible. Ultimately, that’s up to Dark Sky and not me.
At this point, I was guided through a fun little game of musical chairs and ended up sitting at Kane Hodder and Zach Galligan’s table. After briefly joking with Kane regarding the punch he does not seem to remember dishing out to my face a few years back (it was kind of a soft punch, mind you), we got down to business.
Zach, what was your experience going into the third installment of the HATCHET series? Were you excited? Nervous? Nervecited?
Zach Galligan – Well I’m always nervous before I start something. Once I start something and get the ball rolling, the nerves go away. But as an actor, I’m always doubting myself. I always watch my stuff and think I’m shit. I really do. I’m not one of these….I know some people who are like, “Let’s watch my stuff!” But I’m like, really? I’ve never been that way. I’ve always hated the sound of my voice. I don’t like the way I look on camera. You know what I mean? I’m just not comfortable watching myself. So I generally, actually don’t watch the stuff I do.
Zach Galligan – The screening, I’ll watch it once.
Zach Galligan – Yeah, I had to go to the premiere at The Mann’s Chinese Theater and I was up for that because it’s The Mann’s Chinese Theater! The place is legendary and I’m a New Yorker, so….the cement thing, I knew about it with the foot prints outside and all. Not that I got to do that but the legend of that theater. So I went in and, you know, in New York we don’t have theaters that seat like 1200 people. Like a huge number of people and that was pretty thrilling because the audience response to the first GREMLINS was just off the charts! It was amazing. People were applauding, screaming and laughing. There were moments where you could hear a pin drop. It was really incredibly memorable. So that was cool but I probably hated about 80% of myself in that movie. Well maybe not hated but definitely didn’t like it. I mean, I don’t know. I didn’t particularly like my character in GREMLINS. I was kind of like, “Ah dude grow a pair!” He was like, the sweet boy. And I’m not really that. I was more like the prep school kid, you know, in the jacket and tie that like…that had to be…I was that LORD OF THE FLIES kid because everybody was so…I was like Ralph in LORD OF THE FLIES.
You’re being too hard on yourself. May I have the conch?
Zach Galligan – Exactly.
Adam was saying that with HATCHET 3, everything is bigger. The action, the story, the effects. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Kane Hodder – Yeah. We had a lot of big time people involved with it and we’re very fortunate with that. It’ll definitely be a bigger movie with more violence and we shot it on location finally which gives a great air of authenticity to it.
But even if the movie’s bigger, it’s still 100% practical effects? No CG?
Kane Hodder – CG? I don’t believe so, no. Everything we did, as far as action is concerned, is all practical.
And that’s one of the main things that sets this movie series apart from most of the new horror fair of recent years. Speaking of recent horror, I hear that Derek Mears has a role in the film…
Kane Hodder – Yes, there’s a scene between Derek and myself the fans will really enjoy. Fans are always like, “Oh no, they hate each other because they both played the same character.” That’s completely false. We get along great. We do a lot of conventions together. He’s a great guy and I was happy he was in the movie. The fan’s are really going to enjoy when we get together in the movie.
Since both of you have a background in stunt work, what was the experience like working with him on fight choreography?
Kane Hodder – When it’s an actor who is so physically capable like he is, it makes it that much more enjoyable. I don’t have to worry about being too rough. You know, he can be as physical as he wants with me. I think fans are going to be shocked.
Okay, I know there’s not too much more that can be said about the film. That being said, can you tell me something more about the film?
Kane Hodder – Well as far as my character, there are a lot of things that are explained.
More-so than in part 2?
Kane Hodder – Yeah, I think so. Well, in addition to. There are loose ends that get tied up, I guess. This makes it interesting.
Zach Galligan – I think I can tell you something about the movie that doesn’t give anything away, yet at the same time is a very accurate representation of it that will get the fans excited. And that is that, well first of all shooting it on location down in Louisiana down in the actual bayou…I think that adds to the scope and the bigness feel of the movie in a very significant way.
All of Part 2 was shot on a sound stage, correct?
Zach Galligan – Yeah and I think when you see Part 3, you’ll see the kind of wider…the scope, I think is the best word. But also, in terms of the tone and the pacing, the way I would compare it is…you know how you saw ALIEN and it was one type of movie and then you saw ALIENS and it was a very different type of movie? I think the first two HATCHET films are like ALIEN and I think HATCHET 3 is like ALIENS.
That’s a pretty bold statement, Sir!
Zach Galligan – I haven’t seen any of the footage cut together. I’ve seen a lot of the playbacks when we were out in the swamp and stuff like that. I’ve obviously read the script and participated in a nice chunk of it. Actually, probably about 70 to 95 pages of it. So, I’ve seen enough to know that I think that the pace and the genre of this movie is going to morph somewhat from the first two. That should pique your interest.