Adam Green has become on of the biggest names in Hollywood in what seems like overnight. He directed “Hatchet” starring Kane Hodder as the instant horror icon, Victory Crowley. The film has become such a cult classic already that Adam make “Hatchet II”, which will be in theaters on October 1st unrated and uncut, courtesy of AMC Theaters. Adam not only cares about his job, he takes pride in it. This show in the fact that “Hatchet II” is actually better than its predecessor, which is rare for a slasher flick. Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Adam about his road to stardom and his work on his “Hatchet” films.
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Mike Gencarelli: When you originally made the first “Hatchet”, did you think it was going to be as successful as it has been?
Adam Green: Absolutely not! It was the type of thing that we got a bunch of friends together who liked this type of stuff. It was a very selfish movie because we made the type of movie we wanted to see. The reaction in the industry to the script was interesting. My agency at the time was sure if it was funny or scary. They didn’t really understand the tone of it. I told them it is both, it is just a fun movie. They said nobody is doing this type of movie any more and that it went out of style in 1989. They sent it around and one of the first major studios to respond said “We really enjoyed this. The writing is brilliant. However this movie is not going to get made because it is not a remake, not a sequel and not based Japanese film.” I used the rejection letter as part of the poster in the festival tour. For a lot of fans that is what drew them in. Once the movie actually came out though, Anchor Bay took that off the poster and really pushed it as really serious scary movie. I wasn’t happy about that. We premiered at Tribeca and all of the sudden our slasher movie was getting good reviews. Audiences were standing up and cheering. We were winning awards. It was crazy. It was a dream come true.
MG: With the sequel “Hatchet II”, you were able to get an unrated and uncut theatrical release, that must feel good to get that great accomplishment?
AG: It does and it doesn’t. With “Hatchet” when they gave it an NC-17, we were absolutely shocked. We keep re-cutting and re-cutting and they kept giving us an NC-17 for violence. I eventually went to trial against the MPAA because I didn’t feel we were being treated fairly. During my trial, I sited a lot of other movies that were out at the time. My biggest one was “The Hills Have Eyes” remake, which I really liked. But I was saying to them though, here is a movie that has a scene where a women is raped in front of a baby, they sucked on the mom’s tit till she lactates only to shoot her in the head, bite the head off of parakeet then drink its blood and follow-up by running off into the night with a stolen baby they are going to eat while daddy is outside crucified and on fire….and that is ok? But a swamp monster with gas-powered self sander killing a bunch of comedians like Monty Python is too much? I asked them where are there standards? The fact is we were an independent movie. We weren’t paying their salaries. That is their jobs to keep the studios films in the spotlight and bury films like ours. They will deny it but it is true. There is a great film by Kirby Dick called “This Film Is Not Yet Rated”. If you see the movie, those are the exact people I had to deal with. When we submitted “Hatchet II”, they gave us an NC-17 again for violence. I cut two whole minutes out of the movie just of gore and told them I wasn’t going to fight with them again. They still gave us an NC-17. So then Dark Sky Films, who was distributing, brought the movie to AMC because they knew the head of AMC was a “Hatchet” fan and is in the Hatchet Army. They showed him the movie and he loved it. They asked him how would you feel if none of the kills were in the movie. He said “You can’t do that”. It was really them who made the decision to release to the movie unrated. It hasn’t happened with a horror movie is over 25 years. It is very exciting. But I am officially like a marked man by the ratings board. I didn’t want any of that, I was just standing up for myself. It would really mean a lot if the fans actually show up and support this movie. What the industry looks at is those per screen averages. If we make enough noise and enough people see this, it is going to start blowing the winds of change at the ratings board. This is a very pivotal movie in the history of cinema. I wish it wasn’t my movie. I wish it was somebody elses because then I would be campaigning like a fucking politician. But I have to watch what I do because I do not want to be conceived as a car salesman, who is just trying to show his product. Hopefully the fans show up. If they like it hopefully they go twice or three times and bring their friends. They need to cast their vote that they agree with what we are doing.
MG: I know the second film is just coming out but do you think we will see Victor Crowley again?
AG: I am personally looking to make other films. Pretty much what I did after “Hatchet”, I did “Spiral”, I produced “Grace” and I did “Frozen”. Then I was ready to do “Hatchet II”. They wanted a sequel right away but I needed sometime to spread my wings and do other things. So I wanted to come back to this with the same excitement and passion that I had the first time around. We will see what happens, if “Hatchet 3” ends up taking several years to make, maybe I will come back to helm. If they want to go right away, I will most likely pass the torch and stay as producer and hopefully hand pick who they will choose to carry on the series. I kind of feel like I have done my part with this at this point. Victor Crowley can always come back. One of the cool things about the 80’s slasher franchises is that we saw so many great writers and directors got their first chance by doing some of those sequels. I would love to watch someone elses career get started with a “Hatchet” movie. At the same time I know for a fact that “Hatchet II” is better than the first one and if they make “Hatchet 3”, I would want it to be better than this one. I would love to have a slasher franchise that actually gets better as they go and not just spiral out of control.
MG: Most of the films you directed are from your own script, do you find that easier as a director?
AG: As a director, I get more excited about the things I write because I am writing them for me to direct. I get submitted scripts all the time from my agents with offers to direct them. Even though they are good scripts, I just don’t get that feeling. I already have like ten of my own things that I am working on and that I am much more invested in and excited about. There are other directors out there and all they do is direct and look for that good material. I am not really the guy to be sending stuff too. One of the hardest things of writing and directing, it was also one of the best lessons from “Hatchet II”, was at some point the director has to take over. The writer in me is always so concerned about the script and not cutting anything. I am always making sure the character arcs the way I designed them. At some point you have to trim and edit and it is so hard to do that when you know that it is hurting the writing but in return making the playability of the film better. Joe Lynch is one of my best friends, he is also a director. He saw “Hatchet II” a couple of time and I told him I know there are a couple of moments that I know the film is dragging but if I cut those the characters do not have the same arc. He said “Dude it is “Hatchet II”, no matter what…nobody is going to respect the writing…no matter how good it is”. He told me to go for playability and make the movie move as fast as I can without completely sacrificing it. I cut like four minutes of dialogue and character stuff out and it really helps the movie flow better I feel.
MG: Ok, I need to ask about this crazy fact I read, how did you end up posing as Dr. Zaius on the cover art for Fox’s Planet of the Apes 40th Anniversary box set?
AG: That was one of my highlights of everything that has happened so far. At once point Robert Pendergraft, who did the makeup effects for “Hatchet I & II”, he was working at a shop that was hired to high resolution of the apes for the “Planet of the Apes” Blu-ray release. A lot of the actors are not around anymore, though. Maurice Evans who played Zaius is dead. He told me that from looking at the costume, it looks like the same size as me. He asked me to come in and try it on and he said “if it works, we will put you in the makeup”. They told me I couldn’t tell anybody because they want the fans to think it is Maurice Evans but I will be in his costume. So there I am like two days later, they are pulling out all of the old costumes and prosthetics. It was like a five hour makeup job. You can tell when you look at the eyes, it is me. Somebody finally at Fox admitted it was me and now it is out there. It was such an honor to have worn that man’s costume. I am such a huge “Planet of the Apes” films and I can’t even tell you what that day was like for me.
MG: Tell us about what your next film will be?
AG: Due to the success of “Hatchet”, if I have a movie that could be marketed in that genre, people are always throwing money at you to make it. I hoping that something like that happens with the film I have coming up called, “Killer Pizza”, which is a kids adventure movie. I am working on it with Chris Columbus. Hopefully that will open some more doors for me. In a perfect world, I would do a big movie and then come back and do something like “Hatchet”. Independent movies are our movies. I get to work with the same crew. I get to work with my family. On a studio movie you really do not get that. I am very picky on what I am going to do. As much as I get calls to come in for these big budget remakes and things. I am not going to do one unless it is something I really want to do and believe in it. I am very fortunate that because of “Hatchet”, I do not have to base my decision purely on finances. I do have my own company and I can make my own films. I actually have people that want to finance these now. “Killer Pizza” was definitely the right one at the right time. Just getting the chance to work with 1492 and Chris. I mean Chris Columbus is giving me notes on my script…that is just so amazing.
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