Quantcast Adam Green interview - Writer/Director HATCHET, SPIRAL, FROZEN

Adam Green!!!

"NOT A SEQUEL, NOT A REMAKE, NOT BASED ON A JAPANESE ONE. OLD SCHOOL AMERICAN HORROR." That's the tag line on the poster for writer/director Adam Green's genre debut 'HATCHET', which stars fan favorite actor Kane Hodder as the vicious killer Victor Crowley. After reading Adam Barnick's First Look review here on Icons and catching a clip from 'HATCHET' at a recent Fangoria convention, we knew we had to bring you guys an exclusive interview with the guy behind what's soon to be an instant cult classic "slasher" flick! Read on! - by Robg., Adam Barnick, Mike C. 7/06

What are your earliest recollections of the horror genre? The first films that scared you?

The first horror movie I ever remember watching was FRIDAY THE 13th PART 2. My parents were gone for the night and I had an older brother who was very cool about showing me that stuff. For the most part I was bored… but then Jason came through the window at the end and I was scared to death by what he looked like.

All of us were scared by that moment!

And if you look at Victor Crowley (in HATCHET) it’s so derivative of that moment. The make-up was designed to be more of a cross between John Merrick (The Elephant Man) and Rocky Dennison (Mask)…but the “feel” of Crowley is from what I felt when I saw that scene happen as a child.

My next memorable experience with horror was THE THING. When the monster was killing all of the dogs and they had to shoot them to put them out of their misery - I started crying and my parents said “That’s it! No more horror movies! You’re not watching them anymore!” I’m a big pussy when it comes to animals getting hurt. Gut a man right in front of me and I’ll cheer…but kick a cat and I’ll tear your head off. Funny, but it still devastates me to this day when you hear the dogs howling and getting shot in THE THING. It kills me!

When did you first initially get involved in filmmaking?

Let’s see… I borrowed my uncle’s video camera back in 8th or 9th grade, and I used to make these little horror movies called STONE COLD CRAZY. I don’t know why I called it that. (laughs) I think I just really liked the Metallica cover of the Queen song a lot.

I would have started even earlier, but my family didn’t have a video camera or any means to get that kind of stuff. It was me and one of my friends, and the whole thing was just us holding our hand in front of the lens and chasing each other around so that it’d be like we were running away from this killer hand. We’d show it to our friends at parties and they just thought it was so funny. So, we made probably 10 of them. They were only 5 minutes each. And… they’re horrible! But those were the first movies I ever tried to make. Then in high school, there was a communications class that you couldn’t get into until you were a senior, but when I was a freshman, I told the teacher that I was going to get in as a junior and TEACH it as a senior. He laughed at me and said I wouldn’t. But I was tenacious and I kept bothering him everyday – “I need to get in as a junior!” And sure enough, I did.

The first project they give you (which is the same in every intro class, I think) was to learn how to edit by making a music video. Everybody does little songs like “I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends” and they shoot their friends dancing and cut it together. But I did… fucking “Master Of Puppets” (laughs) and it’s got a guy buying drugs, doing them and overdosing, and having a bad trip, and maggots are on his arm and he pulls off his skin – it was this 9 minute opus, and everyone in the class just thought “What the hell was that?!” And from what I hear they still show it to this day after the kids exhibit their videos. “Those were nice. But you have to see what this kid did in 92”!

That’s awesome. 92? That was pre-“black” album Metallica, huh?

I think that was just as the “black” album was getting huge. A lot of people like to say they’ve given up on them since then, but I still like everything they do. I can’t give up on Metallica!

Didn’t you mention in your panel initially starting out with make-up FX?

I had a job directing bad cable commercials when I got out of college. You must’ve seen them out by you. You know, the commercials with the store front & the cheesy graphics and the guy in front of his store shouting “we’ve been in business for X amount of years!” while his wife and 3 fat kids wave? Well, I started stealing their equipment at night, and the first short film I ever made was called ‘Columbus Day Weekend’. It had Jason and Michael Myers stalking the same camp grounds by mistake and then falling in love with each other. It was my first time trying to do effects. We put a chainsaw into someone’s balls and we did the whole belt sander thing from HATCHET.

It was very crudely done, but that’s how I learned how to shoot FX. But I’m still really not that good with actually building effects. I couldn’t build that stuff on my own no matter how much you paid me. For HATCHET, it was all done by professional artists. I just told them what I was looking for and what the shot was, and then Beuchler and his team built them. My first real feature film stuff was writing my own comedies, shooting them, and acting in them actually.

What was it that made you want to follow-up your first film – a comedy, with a straight up horror film?

I just always knew I was going to make HATCHET since I was 8 years old. I knew it was going to be this story. My first film (COFFEE & DONUTS) was made to be a calling card to show that I can write and I can direct- but I just needed SOME sort of budget. I made C&D for 400 dollars and it went so far.

Disney/Touchstone ended up buying the rights and then Tom Shadyak’s company, (LIAR LIAR, ACE VENTURA, BRUCE ALMIGHTY) produced a TV pilot script that I wrote. Unfortunately, the network that bought it was UPN and in the end, it wasn’t “urban” enough for them and it never got shot. I don’t know who didn’t see that coming. (sarcastically) I didn’t. But in the end, that helped me “arrive” in Hollywood. I had gotten an agent, and I was getting paid because of C&D. Then I wrote HATCHET and the first responses I got were “This is never going to get made.” And I’d ask “Why?” They’d say: “Well, it’s “slasher” stuff and people don’t do this anymore. And it’s really funny, but then the violence is way too intense. No one’s going to get it.”

How long ago was it that you first wrote the script, just so our readers get an idea of when people were telling you this?

I wrote the script in 2003 while I was waiting to get UPN’s decision back on C&D. I think the big hit back then was ‘Cabin Fever’? So the trend was leaning towards ‘no more slasher in the woods’ type stuff. My reps basically told me that HATCHET wasn’t going to happen. Then I went and got Kane (Hodder) attached and the producers and I made a mock trailer that you can see on our official website. We made that trailer for literally $4 dollars. That’s what we used to get the horror community talking about the film and then it was a little easier to get the money to make it. So, I went to my industry connections and I said “I got the money to make this now.”
And they said: “Well, your schedule is insane. You’re never going to be able to do this in the time you have.” But I did, and then they told me it’d never get into a film festival because it’s a “slasher” movie. And then it got into Tribeca and was hailed as one of the top 5 hits of the whole festival. NOW we have offers on it and all these great things are happening. It’s a funny story, because sometimes it just takes someone to say “No” for you to say “oh really?” and get it done.

Do you feel that you kind of proved everyone wrong by over coming each obstacle that people told you “you couldn’t” along the way?

It’s not about proving anyone wrong or anything like that. It was always more about proving to myself that I could do what I said I would do. I mean, I am one of the 1% who actually finished what I started. I got HATCHET made. And it’s a real movie- not a video that I shot for 25K and want to call a real movie. With DTV nowadays- there’s 50 new horror titles a month being shat out. This is way above par with those. I definitely think if anything, I’m just an example of how you don’t really need connections if you have the ambition and are willing to work hard. So many people throw their arms up and make excuses for why some people succeeded and they can’t. While they wasted their time being bitter- I went and fought my own way in. I don’t care whether you end up loving HATCHET or not- if there’s one thing you can take from what I’ve done…it’s that YOU can do this, too. No one can stop you if you’re willing to bleed a little along the way. Kids write to me all the time telling me they’re inspired by my story. And if that’s all the recognition I ever get- then I’ve made some serious ground as far as I’m concerned. I’m happy. But at the same time, I still have a lot to prove before I can say I’ve truly “made it”.
HATCHET seems to be doing really well, but I still have to wait to see what really happens with it. There’s still a lot of people that can screw it up! I’m a big pessimist when it comes to dealing with “suits”. You have to be careful. There are literally distributors that might have other projects like this in development that they’ve already spent a lot of money on, who might try to buy this just to shelve it so it doesn’t compete with their own thing.
The business side of all of this is strictly about money, not about making a good horror movie, so whatever happens with this is going to be based on what makes the most financial sense for them, and not necessarily what’s best for the movie. I have nothing to do with what happens from here on in, so that’s very scary! I’m just praying for that final stroke of luck so that this film gets the chance it deserves. The decision makers are insanely out of touch with their audiences so you have to always prepare yourself for the worst case scenario.

Well, the first person involved was Kane Hodder, whom genre fans know as Jason. How’d he get involved with HATCHET?

John Buechler actually got involved first. I went to his shop. Sarah Elbert, (one of our producers) produced the FRIDAY THE 13th box set, and when she read the script for HATCHET, she said she could probably get it in front of a few people that have worked on those movies to get an opinion on it. Well, Beuchler read it and agreed to meet me. I just thought he would tell me what he thought I should do, but instead he said “I want to do this.” So, I thought “Wow.” I’m walking around his shop and I’m looking at Michael Myers, and Freddy and Jason, thinking this is crazy! He helped me do the trailer – he did the young Victor Crowley make-up on my girlfriend, Rileah. (Who wound up playing young Victor Crowley in the actual movie, FYI.) So, he said to me “I can get this to Kane Hodder if you’re interested.”
Absolutely! So, they gave Kane the script, he really liked the character and thought it was cool. It’s very different from Jason in the fact that it’s not just breathing heavy and stalking people. It’s very frantic, and crazy with a lot of screaming and emotion. Another thing that attracted Kane is that he got to play Crowley’s father, who has a very emotional scene where he kills Victor Crowley by accident and cries on camera.

Was it always your plan to have him play the father as well?
When I knew he was interested in doing it, that’s when I got the idea that it’d be cool to show Kane not in make-up. The fans all know what he looks like, but the average person just knows the hockey mask. It’s funny how some people only look at him as a “stunt guy”. All the guys who played Jason were stunt guys, and admittedly, some of them just did stunts, but he (Kane) definitely took the role very seriously, to the point of being psychotic about it. Which I always loved about him. He’s just a dream to work with – he’s so professional. He motivated everyone else!
He’s always on time. He’s always polite and considerate and he has great ideas and great enthusiasm for the work. When he saw the first cut of HATCHET, he called me about an hour later and said “This is the best horror movie I’ve ever been involved with.” And went on the record saying that to TV Guide. What else do we need right now after that? Robert Englund too was such a fan of it, and was so happy with the script. Having Tony Todd show up today at the convention was awesome! I was surprised to see him. That was great.
What was it like for you as a fan to have all these genre people involved in your film? Kane Hodder, Robert Englund, Tony Todd, Joshua Leonard.

It was really surreal! I first met Josh Leonard at Billy Butler’s ‘Madhouse’ premiere because he was in that. I’d really only seen him in ‘Blair Witch’, and when I saw him in ‘Madhouse’, it was weird to see him in a “role”. It was so cool. We talked a little bit afterwards about the things he did to get into character, such as listening to ‘Ministry’. Things that I do! So, we became friendly, and I offered him a part blindly and he said he’d do it. That was it. He was the first one on board after Kane. Robert Englund and Tony Todd took a little finagling to get to, because of their agents. Only because everyone has a script they’re trying to get to those guys.
It was really weird, the first conversation I had with Robert Englund. I couldn’t really even talk because he was being so complimentary of the script and how big he thinks this is going to be. And I’m thinking “Who am I?” On set, standing between the two of them – Kane’s in full make-up and Robert’s to the other side of me, and I’m standing in between these two guys as they’re discussing the make-up job and how big the movie’s going to be, and I’m looking at people thinking “This is so fucked up?!” Which is where the acting comes in. You have to act like you’re not impressed. You have to be able to step in when you want something to be the way you want it. It’s really hard to step up and say it to them as a fan who grew up watching their work. You have to put on the acting hat and act like you’re this important director and they’re going to listen to you. (laughs) And they do! Most actors don’t mind working with an unproven director if that director knows what he wants. Because when you have someone who’s a push over and doesn’t really have a plan, then it gets frustrating and it all starts falling apart.

How much direction do you have to give Kane? Did he bring a lot to the role personally or did you have a clear vision of Victor Crowley?

I always knew exactly who Victor Crowley was. It’s funny with Kane, because you just give him a couple of instructions and he would just go with it. The first time we did the make-up appliance in the shop and we saw what he was going to look like, my first reaction was that he seemed a little too Jason-like. He came over and grabbed me by the throat. I told him “Victor doesn’t do that”. Victor runs frantically and twitches because he’s just as scared. I think he had a bit of resistance to the twitching thing at first, because it feels weird to be running and limping like that. Victor is not methodical, he doesn’t move normally. He’s all over the place. Then, the screaming and the yelling and all the other stuff he does. Kane needed nothing for that. I’d just say “Scare ‘em!” Everyone would start crying and running away freaked out. He’s such a pro. I hope there are sequels because we have so much more to do with this character. The key that I’ve always found to successful “slasher” movies is you don’t answer everything in the first one. You purposely leave some questions so afterwards people can debate it, which is already happening with HATCHET.

People are asking me “Well, is he a ghost?” or “Did he just never die?” or “Is he a zombie?” And I know all the answers to all that! But the whole idea is to slowly keep revealing that stuff. What I’m happy about is I already have it mapped out for 3 or 4 of these. It’s not like “Oh, the film made money, let’s figure out how to bring him back.” Which is what they did with a lot of other movies back in the 80’s. If it lives and dies with this one, then I’m totally fine with that, but if we get to do the sequel and learn why he’s deformed, or why he might be a ghost? What’d Tony Todd have to do with it? What’d Robert Englund’s character have to do with it? It’s all tied in.

So, you built this whole mythology around ‘HATCHET’, the same way that a lot of the 80’s franchises did?

Yea, and that’s what made the character scary is where they came from. Why are they like that? That’s what I loved about the old “slasher” movies is that there was a reason these people were killing people. Not just that they’re crazy.

You explained in your panel how the story for HATCHET and Victor Crowley stems back to childhood. Can you tell the Icons audience the origins for your film again?

Sure. I was 8 years old and my parents sent me to summer camp. And the councilors on the first day said not to go near this certain cabin or else “Hatchetface” would come get us. So, I asked “Well, who is he?” and they’d just say “He’s Hatchetface!” Well, why’s he called “Hatchetface? What’s he going to do to us?!” “He’s going to get you!” And I thought it was so stupid! (laughs) So, that night, all the kids were like “do you think Hatchetface will really come and get us?” So, I started making up this story, and I told all the kids “There was this kid, and his name was Victor Crowley. He was deformed and his dad kept him hidden away.

And his house caught fire, and his dad chopped down the door to save him and he was pressed up against the other side and he got hit in the face. Now, if you listen, you can hear him screaming for his father in the middle of the night!” All the kids started crying and freaking out and the councilors threatened to send me home. (laughs) Ever since then, I knew I would make that a movie one day. It’s funny, because it goes even further. My friend Ben was getting married to another friend of mine from high school named Mary Beth, and Ben’s bachelor party was in New Orleans and it was Final Four weekend.

I’m not really into basketball or drinking that much, so I had nothing to do in New Orleans, because that’s pretty much all there is to do. I wanted to go on the haunted swamp tours, but the guy there said “Well, we don’t do them anymore because of what happened.” This is all stuff that’s in the movie. I asked, “What happened?” And it was some lame story about insurance. And I thought, Man! I wanted to hear something horrible!

So, instead, I went to see this jazz band play, and the drummer had been in a fire and had no hands. He had his drum sticks taped onto his hands with electrical tape and the guy was wailing on the drums. He was missing an eye too and was just all messed up. I’m watching this guy play and I’m thinking about the haunted swamp tour, and New Orleans and I’m thinking about my friend Ben marrying Mary Beth and that’s kind of how HATCHET all came together. Because the lead guy is Ben, and then there’s Mary Beth. Victor Crowley and the whole thing came together at once.

HATCHET embraces a lot of the things we’re loved from earlier genre films. It seems intended to be a theatrical experience. Was that always how you intended it to play out & how difficult is it to explain to investors that this will work theatrically?

The big thing that people responded to is that you can take all of the gore out of it, and it’s still a fun movie. And that’s been a big compliment from the people that have seen it. They usually say that I almost forgot for the first 45 minutes that it was a horror movie. It opens with a big horrific death, but then it’s funny, good characters and you almost forget it’s a horror movie until Victor comes running out of the house (which is the clip we screened at the Fango panel) and you think “Oh shit! That’s right, people are going to get killed!” That was the idea - to make it a ride. Even with the music we keep going up and down. The music cue on the bus driving through New Orleans - give me “ Splash Mountain”, I want Americana-cheesy Disney type music. And the investors would ask “Shouldn’t it be Marilyn Manson like you opened the movie with?” No! Do ‘ Jurassic Park’ and make it a big ride! I’m glad you recognized that because I had to fight really hard for it. Even with the comedy! A lot of people say horror and comedy don’t mix. And they’re right. It doesn’t mix…

It doesn’t mix when it sucks! The humor came out of those characters. It’s 45 minutes of getting to love these characters because they’re fleshed out and hilarious, and then it all goes to hell. Is that the reason you decided to make that group so energetic & animated & fun? Because we usually don’t remember the characters - say in the Friday The 13th’s. (Even though I love all those films.)

That’s one of the things we kept saying. There’s been 25 Friday the 13th/ Nightmare’s/ Halloween’s put together, but you can’t name one character besides the villain. You don’t remember who anyone was. That was the goal with this. To make my ultimate “slasher” movie. I’d never go on record to say “this is the ultimate slasher movie” but for me, that’s what this was.

Do you have a stand-up comedy background? Is that where a lot of your humor comes from?

If you can make people laugh, they’ll stick with you. A lot of times with horror movies, people will go to see them, but they have this defense mechanism where they don’t want to be scared. So, the whole time they’re watching it, their arms are crossed and they’ll say “He’s behind him. Oh, knew it. Called it. Called it.” They’re only doing that to justify that they’re not scared to everybody else. But if you can actually make people laugh with the characters, you’re already hooked. If it’s genuine humor…it’s really hard not to get vested in the characters. That was really where I came from with that. My first movie was a romantic comedy, and then I did some stand-up for awhile. I actually started doing stand-up comedy because I was scared of it. It’s the one thing that scared me beside sharks. It was a dare. Can I get up there for 10 minutes with just a microphone? I used to front a band, and people would ask “How do you get up in front of an audience with a band?”
It’s pretty easy because you can’t even hear me sing half the time with the whole band playing. But when you do stand-up…and it’s just you standing there with a microphone… you’re pretty much telling the audience “I think I’m funny. Here I go…”. I did stand-up for a good year and a half, but now I haven’t had time to do it and I miss it. One of the guys who was part of my stand-up troupe was Andy Samberg who’s now on SNL. All of the guys in our show are starting to blow up now- so it’s wonderful to see. We did it at the Rainbow Bar & Grill on Sunset. Once a month, we’d all get together and go. And it was vicious! Some night’s we’d steal each other’s jokes right before the other guy went on just to leave them on the spot. I did it to Andy once, and then he came out with no material and had to work the crowd for 10 minutes. And he kicked everybody’s ass regardless! (laughs) You could tell even then that he was just brilliant.

Once you got the film going, did you still have to keep convincing the producers about your vision or were they supportive?

They were supportive for the most part. They believed in me, that I really cared about the horror genre and didn’t just want to make a horror movie for the sake of it. But at the same time, they questioned certain things along the line. “Can we have this many jokes? Is this too funny right now? Are people going to be able to swing back and forth from laughing and being scared?” “The gore?” They tried to fight that a bit. “Is it too much?”
In HATCHET, each death starts to top the next one. I mean, by the time we kill Marcus, Ok, he gets his ribs crushed. In some movies that would’ve been enough, but no – then he gets his arms ripped off. And then he gets swung against a mausoleum and his head explodes. It keeps going! And people think “OK, stop killing him already!” The belt sander one was… (laughs) Well, let’s not talk about it.

You spent a long time with casting. How’d you approach working with all these different actors with all these different styles?

Instead of rehearsing on set, my rehearsing is usually just a meeting. You just talk to them about it and get their input beforehand, so that you can adjust the script accordingly and then only have to worry about blocking and rehearsing stunts on set. I ask what they have in mind, and then I tell them what I’m looking for. But to sit and to block it out and make them memorize it and say it over and over again… that just ruins it. You only really get about 3 good takes with actors. Especially with a joke. After they’ve said it enough, it’s not funny to them anymore and they start to think it’s stupid.

To contradict myself though, Tamara Feldman who played Mary Beth had to do a lot of crying and getting emotional. I learned early on that the key to her was to wear her out. So, there are some times, and she’ll be pissed when she reads this, we weren’t even rolling on the first few takes, because I knew I had to get her completely sobbing - a mess, to the point she couldn’t even stand up anymore. And that scene at the end in the boat, I made her do it 15 times and she couldn’t even breathe by the end of it. To this day she’s still my favorite actress who I’ve ever worked with on any set ever. She’s so committed and just so f’n GOOD at what she does. She really let me inside of her head and she was so willing to “play” and put herself out there. She never acted too cool for anything or got sick of the games I wanted to play ‘make-believe’ with.
For instance, when she had to discover the bodies of her family in Crowley’s shed. She never worked with the actors who played her father and brother. So right before she saw the carnage, I showed her candid pictures of them and told her stories about the time they went fishing together or the time they spent Christmas at her Aunt’s, etc. Some of the people thought what I was doing was sick, but she was willing to really go for it and make believe. After making her discover them and cry 7 times, she actually hit me. But 2 minutes later she was hugging me. THAT’s the caliber of actor I strive to work with. If anyone ever has the chance to cast Tamara Feldman and they wind up going with someone else…they’ve made a terrible mistake.
How’d you tap into each of the actors’ fears?

Each one of them reacts differently to fear. Deon Richmond (who plays Marcus) would laugh whenever he’d get scared. And the way to stop that from happening was that the first time I said “cut”, Kane just kept chasing him for about 5 minutes. Then he put him in a headlock, threw him down and said “Is it funny now?” And he’d say …”No!” (laughs) We played pranks to get them scared.
There’s a scene where Victor Crowley throws his hatchet at Joel David Moore and right before we were going to do it, we pretended that the stunt hatchet broke, and Kane starts yelling “I’ll just throw the real one at his face. It’s fine.” Mind you, he’s got one eye covered in make-up. “I can do it.” This was all planned, but I went up to Kane and said “I can’t let you do this.” And the medic comes over, and the first AD and we’re all arguing with Kane, and Joel’s off in the corner thinking “What the hell is going on?” Finally, Kane yells at me “Don’t tell me how to do my fucking job! I’m a stunt coordinator! Let me fucking do it!”
So, I say “Fine! Pictures up!” and Joel’s like “Wait a minute!” Kane throws it at Joel, and we had a close-up on Joel’s face. He was so terrified because it hit him in the leg – but it was a rubber hatchet! He was so scared that he believed he actually got hurt and he was limping away for a second before he realized it was a joke. That’s the type of stuff that we did for everyone. And also, NEVER letting them see Victor Crowley until the moment they saw him on camera. It really helped. Because you can get numb to it after a while, especially when you’re up close and you realize its latex and rubber. Also, some of them didn’t know when they were really going to die, because we convinced them that I changed the script. And the schedule was all mixed up. So, there’d be nights where we’d be shooting a dialogue scene and I’d yell “Last looks on make-up effects.” And everyone would think “Wait a minute.” Is HE here? And then you’d start to hear someone screaming in the woods. And the cast would all think “Is HE here?” The whole time, they’re acting on edge because they weren’t sure if Kane was going to show up, meanwhile Kane was at an event in New Jersey. (laughs) They were so scared just because they didn’t know where he was.

How’d you meet with your director of photography Will Barratt? Did you guys go to school together?

He’s actually 10 years older then me, but we were both working at Time Warner making the cable commercials. Will had already been there for a while and I was his intern. The very first day we were working together I asked him (and this is when I had just met him) “You’re not going to do this forever, are you?” And he replied “What do you mean?” And I was all like “Cause we could steal this shit, and make our own stuff!” And two weeks later we’re shooting ‘Columbus Day’ and he’s saying “I can’t believe I’m stealing this equipment.” He’s totally the responsible one. This married guy with responsibilities and I corrupted the shit out of him. (laughs)

We came up with this name, ArieScope – because Columbus Day was supposed to be a total spoof of Friday The 13th, and our opening credits needed to look exactly like Friday The 13th’s with the white letters and stuff. We needed a “production company presents”. We’re both Aries, so we thought of ArieScope. We never really intended to do anything with it, but it gradually became a real company, and we’ve now won two Emmy’s and made 3 feature films. Another just got green-lit. And it’s crazy, because with this company – we just wanted to make friends with the people we work with.

A lot of people have this philosophy in this business “I’m not here to make friends, I’m here to make money and to make a movie”. Well, we are here to make friends. We make that abundantly clear, to the point that a lot of our crew will work for free for us at some points. If we say “there’s no money for this”, sometimes they’ll say “Doesn’t matter, we’re doing it anyway.” They’ll turn down bigger paying gigs to work with us. It’s been so surreal the whole thing. I get to work with my friends everyday. Not a lot of people get to say that.

Was it true that you had written a script for ‘CABIN FEVER 2’?

I did. I wrote that in 2004 for Lions Gate. It’s one of the scripts I’m the most proud of. It’s the whole ‘HALLOWEEN 2’ thing where it starts with the same shot where the first one ended. It’s a lot like ‘HATCHET’ where it’s very funny. My script is basically about a bunch of kids on an outward bound trip & it’s basically ‘The Breakfast Club’ meets ‘Cabin Fever’. All these kids have to do outward bound because if they don’t they’re going to fail high school. So, it’s all the fuck-ups who don’t really know each other who get stuck on this bus, and go to do this trip with the gym teacher. What was interesting is when I got to read the first draft of ‘CABIN FEVER ’ after I wrote mine, there’s a scene where Bert is driving away from the hillbillies and he’s starting to get the infection. And in the original script, he has to swerve because a school bus full of kids is going the other way back into the woods. And I didn’t even know that when I did my draft for ‘CABIN FEVER 2’.

Unfortunately, I got in so much trouble talking about this the last time so I don’t know what I can or can’t say! Lionsgate are really the only people that can answer what’s going on with that. Eli Roth and I both say “We don’t know” because we don’t know. I don’t think that he knew that they asked me to write one, and I also didn’t know at first that he was going to be writing one. There was a point in the making of HATCHET where a journalist came to set and asked me a ton of questions about CF2 and my answers were really taken out of context. What was awesome about Eli was that the second it happened, he e-mailed me right away saying he knows my comments were taken out of context. It’s happened to him before. Where he could have been a total dick to me and come down on me- he literally sent me an email that said “don’t sweat it.” And that was sort of how we first met. You’ll hear people say bad things about other people who are having success in the industry and I think that all comes out of jealousy. Eli’s first thing got a huge theatrical release and was a big success so some people like to try and talk trash. But he’s a cool guy. He really is nice and he has been nothing but awesome to me. If my films could have half the success his films have had I’d be thrilled. And anyone who tries to say differently is lying.

How hard is it to manage your personal life with your work?

It’s such a struggle but I manage. However, if my girlfriend were here right now, she’d argue that statement. (laughs) It’s really hard because all you do is work, and it consumes you, because it’s your hobby. You don’t have time for other things! Even when you go to a movie, it’s not the same anymore. It’s not like you go to lose yourself in a movie. Your friends don’t understand that you don’t have a lot of time for everything. And when you start having success, they think “Oh, well he just thinks he’s too good for us now.” It’s not it. You just don’t have time. Every fan that writes me a letter, I try to write back to every single one. Sometimes, I can get back to someone within 5 minutes, other times it takes me a month depending where I am. I try to do it! Sometimes in life you’ll hear people say “I don’t care what other people think about me” and I think they’re lying because I totally care what people think about me. I really try very hard to be around for everyone and to stay as accessible as I can. Between the hours you actually work and then trying to keep up with everyone…there’s not much personal time left. But I’m getting better at it. Then of course, the whole “struggle” thing in the years leading up to this part. Just 3 years ago I was working at a club where I had to eat the leftovers that they took off the tables to throw out. I would scrape it off the plate just to have food to eat. I was SO poor. The cable commercial job paid well enough to get by before I moved to LA (6 years ago). And then my feature ‘Coffee And Donuts’ got picked up over here, but when something gets picked up, you don’t get money for it right away. It took 3 years for me to get any money from ‘Coffee And Donuts’. I came out here, thinking “Where do I start?”, and I went to meeting after meeting, and everyone would say “We love you. We love your voice. But we don’t have anything for you. You have to sell something first.” Nothing was happening. This town loves to say ‘no’ and will only say ‘yes’ if they have to because they’re afraid to say ‘no’. You can’t go out because you have no money, and some nights I went to sleep in tears because I was so hungry both literally and emotionally. My parents would try as hard as they could to help me, but they didn’t have a lot of money either. My dad was a gym teacher and my mom was a Hebrew school teacher. It’s really, really, really hard. And it’s even harder cause here in LA…people around you tend to have or come from money. Even some of my friends that were also “struggling”. Their parents paid their rent and bought them cars, etc. But you can’t get bitter or focus on that. You just have to do what you need to do. Everyone’s story is different. This one was mine. And it still is to this day, because I’m always worried that it can go back to that at any moment! I finally bought a new car after 3 years of having some money. I thought, “I’m just going to keep driving the Camry! It’s only 12 years old! I can get another 8 years out of this thing!” (laughs) You’re just too scared to spend any of the money.

Can you talk at all about ‘SPIRAL’, your follow up to ‘HATCHET’?

I didn’t know anything about ‘SPIRAL’ when it came along. And then Joel Moore who was the lead in ‘HATCHET’ called me up and said “I want to send you this script, just read it.” It was something he and his friend Jeremy Boreing had written… It’s so hard to be a writer when you’re last name is Boreing. (huge laughs) I had it tough because I was Adam GREEN, but he’s Jeremy BOREING. You know that execs are coming up with their shitty “no pun intended” jokes before they even open the first page. Anyway, they gave me the script, and I read it and I just couldn’t figure out where it was going, because it’s a drama. But at the same time it’s really fucked up and dark and scary. So, I told them I thought it was great. So, Joel said “Well, I wanted to direct it but I don’t feel comfortable being the lead and directing on this particular project, so… would you want to do it with me?” I was in the middle of coloring ‘HATCHET’, and he suggested “come out to Portland for a month, and be the on set director, and you’re just going to direct the actual production of the movie and then I’ll take over in post.” And my first answer was NO. To co-direct something, you’re just asking for problems. Especially… with Joel, he’s got more ideas then anyone you’ve ever seen. He’s A.D.D. and he doesn’t even remember what he’s saying half the time because his ideas just keep coming so fast.
It wouldn’t be a big deal- except that all of his ideas are actually GOOD. So here you are on set- two creative minds…one of which (me) who is concerned with getting it all done on time and on budget and another (Joel) that could keep firing off new ideas by the second if you’d let him. It was definitely an experience- but we got along famously. In fact, as much as I’d still say “no thanks” to co-directing...I bet that few people have ever gone into something like this and had it work out as well as it did for us. Sure, there’s some shots we may not have agreed on and there’s some stuff left on the cutting room floor that I would have kept in the film if it were only up to me…
but we both have nothing but respect and love for each other and we know that we made a BEAUTIFUL film. He and I will most definitely work on something again in the future. We just work that well together. SPIRAL is not a horror movie. It’s a dramatic thriller. It’s about relationships, art, jazz…it’s nothing like anything I would ever normally do. And that’s exactly why I did it. HATCHET’s going to come out and everyone’s going to say “Ok. He does “slasher” movies” – but then I can follow up immediately with SPIRAL which is a 180 degree turn in every single way.
The horror fans who love HATCHET may not be into something like SPIRAL - and I’m embracing that. All ready I keep getting offered “slasher” movies and oddly enough, lately I even get offers for remakes. And I say “Did you read the poster for HATCHET?!” You’d be surprised how many more remakes people want to make. They’ll remake anything at this point. These days, you pitch the studios an idea and they ask “Well, who was in the original?” Everyone wants remakes these days. And for the record, I’m not anti-remake. I thought ‘TEXAS CHAINSAW ’ was sick. I loved ‘HILLS HAVE EYES ’. But I’m fed up with the fact that it’s 90% of what they’re offering us.

It’s insulting to the Japanese that we think we can do all of their movies better! I can understand remaking a Japanese movie from 50 years ago. But they make them, and then the American version is out a year later. Has Hollywood lost THAT much faith in today’s generation that they’re literally scared to put out something new? Funny thing is with HATCHET - it’s not even a new concept. It’s a formula that is so old it’s new again. But it’s completely original and that may scare some people up top.

Anything you would consider tackle as a remake, if you had complete control?

Absolutely. I actually took a meeting on one recently. It didn’t work out that I’m going to end up doing it, but why I took it was because they said to just forget the original - because I didn’t like the original – and go back to the short story it was based on, which was only 17 pages long. The writer who wrote that short story, to get to work with him would’ve been great. I don’t know if it worked out with a writer just yet. But I did go in for it and it was a remake, and I wanted to do it because of the people I would’ve gotten to work with. I always said I’d love to remake ‘CLASH OF THE TITANS ’ if you could have a ‘LORD OF THE RINGS ’ budget. Now, they’re doing it. Hopefully, they have the ‘LORD OF THE RINGS ’ budget because if they don’t, they just can’t beat the original with cheesy CGI. Hmm… what would I remake? I’d like to remake ‘WEEKEND AT BERNIES ’. (laughs)

You should write the third one and reintroduce all the characters!

I’ve heard that Terry Kiser (Bernie) wrote a third one! He wrote a third one and can’t get it off the ground just yet! Everyone says “All he had to do was play dead.” I thought he was genius in that movie. Because the trust that you have to have in other actor’s to fall and not flinch to catch yourself. I can talk about ‘WEEKEND AT BERNIES ’ forever. I love that movie. (laughs) It’s so great. He was the psychiatrist in FRIDAY THE 13TH Part 7.

One thing we wanted to talk about, the HATCHET poster. It says right on there “It’s not a remake. It’s not a sequel. It’s not based on a Japanese one.” But you also mentioned previously a distain for movies focusing just on the brutality rather then story…

No, I LOVE ‘SAW’. One of the best movies I’ve seen in years! And there’s a moment in HOSTEL that I still clap to myself when I watch it, which is when Jay Hernandez starts speaking German to the guy, and the guy thinks about it and leaves. And you think it worked. And then he comes back and puts the gag in and you hear the chainsaw! I loved that! But right now, I think that studios think “Oh those torture movies did well? Then hell, let’s just be as depraved as we can be!” And they don’t care who’s in it. And they don’t care about the story. I personally don’t think it takes much talent or effort to torture someone for an hour and a half if that’s ALL you’re going to do. Anybody can think of that stuff. Even the deaths in ‘HATCHET’ as creative as they are, I’m not a genius because I can come up with them. A lot of people can come up with that stuff. I think everybody who’s sitting here right now could probably do the same thing. But to come up with a fun story with good characters and dialogue and to execute a quality movie is very difficult. That’s why, for my money, SAW and HOSTEL worked.
Sure, they were ‘torture’ films…but they were built around great concepts. But some of the other stuff that’s starting to float around out there…the knock offs…just give me a break. No thanks. Give me some of the old days again when horror was still fun. HATCHET has some of the most brutal violence you’ll ever see…but I’m proud to say it stands on more than just that. It’s fucking entertaining. You’ll walk out of it exhausted and smiling. Take the monsters and make-up FX from back in the day and push it way more over the top…mix it together with the dialogue and tone of the 90’s slashers…and then remove the WB kids, lame acting, “who done it”, and spoofy-ness…and you have HATCHET. It’s like a FRIDAY 13th or HALLOWEEN on steroids. I cared with this film. I really, really cared.

HATCHET trailer
Other SPIRAL interviews:
HATCHET interviews:

Thanks to Adam Green for his time!
www.HATCHETMOVIE.com and www.ArieScope.com

All Content Copyright 2006 Icons Of Fright.com.
No articles may be reproduced in any manner without expressed permission of Icons Of Fright.com.
Back to Interview Index