When talking about successful modern-day slasher films, it’s impossible not to mention 2006′s Hatchet. Introducing us to the Louisiana legend of Victor Crowley, writer/director Adam Green seamlessly blended grotesque practical effects work, schlocky 80s style slasher camp, and a darkly comedic tone, which is leading many to deem Victor Crowley a horror icon of our time.
Spawning a sequel in 2010′s Hatchet II, Green returned to Honey Island Swamp with bigger kills, bigger laughs, and and a drive to keep his franchise afloat – which he did with this year’s Hatchet III. While Adam decided to pass directorial duties off to camera operator BJ McDonnell this time around, Mr. Green still wrote the script and stayed on as a producer so he could still be heavily involved in production.
I’ve been a fan of the Hatchet franchise ever since watching the first one in my Hofstra dorm, seeing one of the characters break down crying because she felt guilty for lying to everyone, and then hearing her say the line “I didn’t really go to NYU. It was my first choice, but I didn’t get in. So I went to Hofstra.” Of course my roommate and I jumped on Green’s IMDB page immediately to find out he was a Hofstra alumni himself, so Green has been on my interview radar for quite some time now.
Rewind to last week and Adam was kind enough to give us an exclusive Skype interview while promoting his upcoming project Hatchet III, which was an absolute blast to talk about. While we mainly talked about the Hatchet world, and specifically Hatchet III, we were also able to talk about a few of his upcoming projects (Holliston/Killer Pizza/Digging Up The Marrow), along with general horror discussions. Hope you enjoy the interview!
We Got This Covered: So you’ve obviously been a major part of Hatchet and Hatchet II, and I’m curious to know what the emotions were like when everyone reunited for Hatchet III? I know fans can expect to see a few familiar faces on screen, Kane Hodder of course reprised his role as Victor Crowley…
Adam Green: It’s always exciting because this was always supposed to be these three movies. [The franchise] is one big story, and the fact that we’ve gotten to do that is just unbelievable – and that’s all because of the fans. It’s always exciting and slightly emotional, specifically when we wrap, especially with this one because it’s intended to be the end of this story. That doesn’t mean that there might not be more Hatchet movies, but this was the story that I set out to do. It’s exciting and sort of surreal every time we rebuild the Crowley house and Kane’s in the makeup again – it’s just awesome.
We Got This Covered: Talking about Kane in the Victor Crowley costume, what’s he like around set? Does he try to stay covered up so people are surprised? Is Victor Crowley terrorizing the cast and crew in between takes?
Adam Green: In the first movie we always kept him covered and nobody saw him until they were on camera with him, but now everybody knows what Victor Crowley looks like. Also, the stunts in the movies have gotten more and more complicated, with Hatchet II and III especially, so because he’s also the stunt coordinator, we really didn’t have time to be playing games like keeping him hidden and having him jump out and scare people because he just had so much work to do.
After the first one, we really didn’t keep him hidden, but he still stays away from [the cast] so that they don’t get used to it. It’s not like he’s joking around with them in makeup. When he’s in the makeup, he’s pretty much in character unless he has to coordinate a stunt.
We Got This Covered: Can you touch upon the challenges you faced by bringing Danielle Harris in as the lead character Marybeth for Hatchet II, and subsequently Hatchet III? Were you ever worried about continuity?
Adam Green: Originally with Hatchet it was between Danielle and Tamara [Feldman]. The reason why we went with Tamara was because that was the last part we cast, and we already had so many horror icons that it was almost becoming a joke, so we went with the unknown. Then when it wasn’t going to work to bring Tamara back, it was like, “Well, do we just throw out the whole storyline we set out to do? Or do we keep going.” Thankfully we were in the position where we could replace the existing character with the biggest “Scream Queen” of our generation. Normally, if it had been anyone else, I probably would have either just not done the movie or changed the whole direction of it – which would have sucked. Because we were able to “level-up,” I think the fans very quickly got over that and were even more exited that it was Danielle.
The challenges were that normally in a movie like this, when you’re the main actress or any of the characters, you get to start at one point and usually be normal, and then work your way up to the screaming and crying. With Hatchet II though, Danielle had to start at absolute insanity in the water – he’s got her, she’s screaming, everybody is dead, her family is dead – so for her, I know it was really hard because she didn’t get that momentum to build up. She had to be crying and screaming through the whole movie. Then with the third film, her character takes a little bit of a turn because she’s much more stoic, and she’s got a little bit more of that biting wit that she exhibited in the first film. The second one was really, really, hard for her though.Next
We Got This Covered: Now I’ve already heard you claim in some interviews that you were still heavily involved in Hatchet III and that letting BJ McDonnell direct this time wasn’t that much of a big deal, but c’mon, you weren’t even the slightest bit jealous not being in the director’s chair?
Adam Green: Nope, not at all. That was part of the reason for promoting from within and picking somebody who was not an established director so I could keep that control. [BJ McDonnell] has been part of the whole [franchise], so it wasn’t like somebody new was coming in saying “This is what I’m going to do.” It really wasn’t hard, it was actually very seamless. The crew already knew him, the cast knew him, and it really just worked well. Also, there was no ego there, so the process was really collaborative and easy creatively to make things go. We had the same DP, same makeup effects, so it really just felt think things just kept going. Luckily I didn’t have to do what they did with 80s slashers where they would tell previous directors “Go with God, see ya!”
Everyone who understands filmmaking knows that it’s the script that dictates everything, that’s where exactly what’s going to happen is decided, who’s going to say what, how it’s going to play out, so the fact that I still wrote Hatchet III was kind of like I was the ultimate puppet master of the whole thing. Add the fact that I had final cut, and there really wasn’t a problem with any of that. We were very much in tune together, so there was no arguing or seeing things different ways. It really worked out well.
We Got This Covered: Did you enjoy shooting mostly in the swamps this time around and doing less on the sound stages? I heard the weather and bugs were pretty bad…
Adam Green: No, no, that sucked, [Laughs] but it’s worth it for those few really wide shots. We were in the swamps for Hatchet and Hatchet II, but only for a few days, whereas with this one we were in the swamps for about 15 days. A good portion of the movie was actually shot here, in my office [motions to the room behind him]. The setting in the ambulance boat, Abbott’s house, and even a lot of the swamp stuff, specifically one of the cameos that we won’t mention now, was all shot in my office. It wasn’t all in the swamp, but those shoots were really tough. We had people going to the emergency room nightly – it was really, really hard.
I just watched all three movies back to back at a marathon in Boston, and Hatchet III definitely has the biggest scope. We wanted this to feel like the biggest movie out of all of them, and I think shooting in the swamp helped with that a lot. Whether it’s Hatchet, Hatchet II, and whether it was shot on a sound stage or in a parking lot, like Hatchet was just shot in regular woods, I think the production team has done such a good job of making it all seamless. Hatchet II, as we did fifteen days on a sound stage, every tree and plant were all real – it’s all brought in, just there’s a roof above our heads so we can shoot the appropriate amount of hours.
Other than that though, people were getting sick from the moss, the mushrooms – [the swamp] was a toxic, disgusting place. It’s not like shooting on a sound stage where you’ve got fake trees and a fake backdrop.
We Got This Covered: Now in Hatchet III you cast Derek Mears to play one of the SWAT officers. Everyone knows Kane Hodder has played Jason a few times, and everyone also knows Derek has stepped in to play the iconic slasher as well. Was there a little bit of fanboy fantasy brewing in you, knowing you’d have two Jasons fighting, that helped you cast Derek?
Adam Green: Actually, Derek was supposed to be in Hatchet II, but because of his schedule for Predators, he couldn’t do it. I like having horror icons be in these movies and have a chance to be comedic, and Derek is a very, very funny guy who I worked with on Holliston as well. He’s just a good actor. Of course there’s also the added bonus of having Kane kill another Jason, because that’s the only icon Victor Crowley really hadn’t killed yet, so that was really fun. I know fans are really excited to see those two go head to head, which is funny because who do you think is going to win? Like all of a sudden Derek Mears is going to take out Victor Crowley and go “Alright, that’s it!” and the credits role? [Laughs] That’s not going to happen.
We did have fun with that though. In Hatchet II we had the throwdown between Trent, R.A. Mihailoff’s character [R.A. has played Leatherface], and Victor Crowley. That fight was so epic and so big, but you don’t want to repeat yourself and do the same thing again.Previous Next
We Got This Covered: So I have to ask, what has your favorite kill been in the Hatchet series? It can include Hatchet III was well…
Adam Green: That’s hard. Mrs. Permatteo in the first one will always be that signature ”holy shit” kill, but the kills in Hatchet II are so fucking good. They were so hard to do, and were so much more complicated than the ones in Hatchet III. Like the two guys on the chainsaw? There were wires everywhere, and it took two different people to hold up the chainsaw because it weighs about 125 pounds. Then you’ve got the two actors on wires, timing all that, cutting the bodies in half – I mean there were six different people just controlling the body halves to split. How that was built with the piping, tubing, and blood sprays was insane, but it became really awesome because we pulled it off.
Tony Todd’s kill in the second film was one of those things where without using CG, we were really struggling. Like, how do you imply that some dude just got ripped out of his skin? Of course we were able to figure it out though. It’s just showing things for a certain amount of time and making his face cave in. If you’ve ever seen the behind the scenes on Hatchet II, we show the whole thing, and you can see how fake and stupid it looks. You only see two seconds of it though, mixed with the sound, and it totally looks perfect. That was really awesome and something I’d never seen before.
Of course the curb stomp with R.A. [Mihailoff] was really fun, and the infamous sex scene was really, really fun as well. I think Hatchet II has the best kills out of the three, because each one is this huge event, where the movie comes to a stop and you see this big spectacle of a kill. Hatchet III has some great, great kills in it as well, but it’s coming more fast and furious because there’s so many more people. We didn’t want to just repeat the same movie again, so we upped the stakes by having a formidable foe. We had guys with assault rifles, machine guns, and even a rocket launcher – we really amped the size and fun up. We wanted to give Victor a challenge this time.
We Got This Covered: Alright Adam, I have to ask – have we really seen the last of Victor Crowley?
Adam Green: I have no idea, really. Phone calls have already come in about a fourth one, because worldwide everybody wants this thing to continue. I’m not opposed, but I don’t know what that story is right now – which is normal. With every other slasher franchise, they didn’t know what the other one was going to be. These three movies were very methodically planned out, and I’m just happy I got to do this story. I don’t think there will be more with these characters necessarily, but as far as Victor Crowley goes, of course there can be another Crowley movie. As long as we keep the integrity, it’s what the fans want, and the movies don’t start to suck. I’ve been very happy that the quality has continually gone up between movies, and I’d like to see that continue if there’s another one.
I will probably be a lot less involved from here on out because I feel like I’ve done my part. Hatchet III was really hard because as much as I wasn’t sitting in the director’s seat, I was responsible for everything. To be doing that, writing Killer Pizza, and writing Season 2 of Holliston all at the same time nearly killed me. If there is a fourth I’ll probably just creatively consult a little bit, and that would be it. You really never know.
The best part of all of it has been Dark Sky though, because thankfully these movies have such a fanbase worldwide that they’re willing to make movies for the Hatchet fans. They never said “Well how do we bring in a new audience” or “Hey, gore isn’t everybody’s thing” or “Do we really have to balance gore and humor?” They never did that. They said “What’s the movie you want to make and what do the fans want” and that’s the movies they let me make – and that rarely happens. They’ve just been phenomenal.
We Got This Covered: So while reading the production notes after my Hatchet III screening, I noticed the ending was slightly different. I won’t give anything away, but can you just touch upon what caused you to change up how the film ends?
Adam Green: I never let anyone see the actual ending of anything, so for most of the crew the last five pages were omitted. There was a draft that did circulate with an entirely different ending, but only the people on set for the last five pages knew how the movie was going to end. By now some of the actors have seen the film, but most of them won’t be seeing it until the official premiere, so most of the cast still doesn’t know how it’s going to end.
You have to do that now to protect yourself because of the Internet. When Rob Zombie’s first draft of Halloween got leaked and Ain’t It Cool News reviewed it, that was the most appalling, disgusting thing I’ve ever seen. First of all, I don’t care who you are and how smart you think you are, you cannot review a script and think you know how the movie is going to turn out – especially a first draft. It’s going to change so many times. Honestly, it was heartbreaking to watch that happen, but ever since then I’ve been super careful. Every actor’s script is watermarked huge with their name on it so you put the fear of God in them not to share or email it.
It’s also something special with the cast and the crew, they don’t want it getting out. You’ve seen the film now, there’s a bunch of surprises for fans, and nobody betrayed us on the crew. Nobody tweeted about it, nobody told anybody. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not because it’s the next Star Wars movie or something, it’s Hatchet, but you do it for the fans. The surprises are there for them. You want them to enjoy it. Sometimes, you just have to protect them from themselves, because these sites post every spoiler, still, and clip they can, and it ruins the movie. By the times fans see the movie, they’ve already seen so much it’s passe at that point. As you may have noticed, we were really careful about what we’ve show. You only have one shot to see a film for the first time, and we want that first time to matter.Previous Next
We Got This Covered: Moving on to your future projects, the first one I’m really interested to see what you do with is your adaptation of Killer Pizza…
Adam Green: [Laughs] Yeah, me too…
We Got This Covered: So I assume that means you’re still working everything out?
Adam Green: Yeah, I mean the script is done and it’s been done for a while. Originally MGM had optioned the project, I did countless rewrites, and ultimately it came back around to where it was, which is frustrating. The good thing is that it’s a big studio movie, but on one hand the bad thing is that they take forever, and who even knows what’s going to happen. But when you have a powerhouse like 1492, Chris Columbus’ company, once they had enough with MGM’s development, it was totally amicable, but it was like “Let’s call it a day, we’re going to take this back now.” That was awesome, to see somebody stand up for me like that. A lot of people wouldn’t do that. You usually get more of a “Fuck man, this is a big budget movie, we’ve got to get this thing made. It’s a lot of money at stake, if it’s got to be a version we’re not really that happy about, fuck it.” He didn’t do that.
Now the script is back in their hands, and the process will start of thinking up another way to do it. There was a point when we were making Hatchet III that Killer Pizza was set up and ready to go, and that was one of the reasons I didn’t direct this Hatchet - but then it obviously didn’t happen. It’s very common and it’s nothing unusual, I’m just waiting for that phone call again. Every time my phone rings and it’s 1492 I answer “HELLO!” all excited like, but nothing yet. Hopefully soon.
We Got This Covered: I think I know the answer to this already, but what rating are we looking at with Killer Pizza?
Adam Green: Definitely PG-13. It’s in the vein of Ghostbusters and Monster Squad, think a big spectacle summer coming of age movie. I don’t want to say family movie, because it’s dark and scary, but in that Amblin way we used to get in the 80s. Even with a movie like Gremlins, Chris Columbus’ first script of that film was a hard R, it was a violent, sick movie. I love that when Steven Spielberg produced it and made it PG, he still left that stuff in there. The kitchen sequence with the Mom, blender, microwave – that stuff is awesome. You would never see that now.
That’s what we’re going for with Killer Pizza, and that’s what we’re trying to do, so we’ll see. I don’t even know if I’ll be the one who ends up directing it. That’s always been the plan, but I can’t say.
I also have this project called Digging Up The Marrow which I’ve been shooting the last year off and on, which started as a documentary, but then turned into something completely different. We don’t even know where it’s going, we’re just sort of following the movie at this point.
Once I’m done with these last ten days of press and Hatchet III is out, I’m going to take ten days to go heal and recover. Everyone’s asking where I’m going to go on vacation, but I’m just going to my parent’s house so my Mom can make me soup and baby me and heal me because I’m a fucking wreck right now. [Laughs] I’m going to heal, and starting July 1st we’re shooting Digging Up The Marrow every day for the rest of the summer, so expect that to be the next feature of mine that comes out.
*I’d like to thank Adam Green for Skyping in for this interview, and be sure to catch Hatchet III starting June 14th! Oh yeah, also be sure to catch Adam on Season 2 of his FEARnet television series Holliston, which premiered June 4th at 10:00EST.
The show follows Adam and horror pal Joe Lynch playing two down and out aspiring filmmakers struggling with a multitude of life’s problems. This season’s guests include Bill Moseley (Texas Chainsaw), Kane Hodder (Hatchet III), Sid Haig (The Lords of Salem), David Naughton (An American Werewolf in London), Danielle Harris (Halloween IV and V), Bailee Madison (Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark) and James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy), so don’t miss a single week!Previous