September 3, 2007
Originally posted August 20, 2007 -- ESplatter just had the pleasure of speaking with Adam Green, director of the film festival favorite "Hatchet," hitting screens on September 7.
Green started out by making cable TV commercials in Boston. While there, he “borrowed” equipment from his company to make his debut short film, Columbus Day Weekend – a spoof in which Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers fall in love while stalking the same campsite. Bootleg copies of the short served as his calling card to Hollywood and lead to his first feature film, the romantic comedy Coffee & Donuts, which went on to be produced as a pilot for UPN by Tom Shadyac (Bruce Almighty). He is the co-founder, with Will Barratt, of ArieScope Pictures.
Here's a synopsis of "Hatchet."
Green’s Hatchet is a return to the good ol’ days of horror, when scares weren’t computer-generated, when gallons of fake blood were splashed on trees, when men were men (until things got scary, at which point they squealed like little girls), women were scantily clad, and boys were deformed psychopaths with a taste for unique weaponry. It’s Mardi Gras in New Orleans, and Ben (Joel David Moore) has reached booze and boobs overload. Recently dumped and pining after his girlfriend, he enlists his pal Marcus (Deon Richmond) to accompany him on a swamp tour in a boat that travels the spooky murk surrounding the city. Marcus is less than enthused until the crew of the low, low, low (low) budget movie “Bayou Beavers” signs on, including amateur cameraman Shapiro (Joel Murray), pneumatic Misty (Mercedes McNab) and ditzy Jenna (Joleigh Fioreavanti). Joining them on the rickety cruiser are the painfully wholesome couple Mr. and Mrs. Permatteo (Richard Riehle and Patrika Darbo) and the beautiful-but-sullen Marybeth (Tamara Feldman).
Led by the P.T. Barnum of the swamp tour industry, fast-talking but slow-thinking showboater Shawn (Parry Shen) the tourists are decidedly underwhelmed by the fog, low-hanging branches and aggressively quiet sounds that Shawn tries to pass off as frightening. He launches into the story of Victor Crowley – yup, a legend in these parts – who is known to haunt the swamp. The boaters wave off the story as part of Shawn’s continuing nonsense – except for Marybeth, who is notably discomforted.
While jabbering on, Shawn steers the boat into a berm in the middle of the swamp, trapping the tourists in the middle of the water as the craft starts to sink. Their only hope is to scale a fallen tree to the shore – but the alligators in the marsh have a different idea. Marybeth whips out a gun, fires, and scares the critters off, but not before Mr. Permatteo suffers a nasty gash that requires immediate medical care.
On shore, Marybeth takes command, reveals herself to be a local, and explains why she’s armed: the story of Victor Crowley, as it turns out, isn’t a myth. Born severely disfigured, Crowley grew up to the torments of the children in the area. Despite his horrifying condition, his father loved him deeply, caring for him and protecting young Victor from the cruel taunts of his peers. One Halloween, however, the local kids decided to pull a prank on the Crowleys by scaring Victor out of the seclusion of his cabin – a trick that ending in tragedy. Since that day, Victor Crowley was rumored to haunt the swamp, calling out in desperate pain for the aid of his father – and seeking revenge on those who plagued him.
The area of the swamp where the Crowley house stands has been off-limits for years, Marybeth reveals. But several days ago, Marybeth’s father and brother – presuming that they’d hit the mother lode in a restricted area – disappeared in the forbidden zone while hunting for alligators. She suspects they met a bad end, and she wants to investigate the area around Victor Crowley’s house…which is, of course, looming just up the hill from where the swamp boat sank.
The tourists blame Marybeth for telling tales and giving them the heebie-jeebies, writing her off as another deep-fried Southerner gone soft in the head. Ben isn’t so sure that Marybeth is cracked, and figures that there is no way that helping out a pretty gal can end badly. Ben, of course, is wrong… because then Victor Crowley appears and proves – in the grand tradition of Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers and Freddy Krueger – that sometimes it is best to bury the hatchet…in someone.
Hatchet has been rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America for “strong bloody horror violence, sexual content, nudity and language.”
ESplatter: So how does it feel to have the release date right around the corner?
It's exciting and at the same time it's really scary. It's been years and years of working on this. Now I'm so sick of all the traveling and touring. I'm excited to see it come out. We don't have national TV and tons of screens. We're hoping the fans put the money with their mouth is. A lot of other movies like Grind House, you expected people to show up and see it and they didn't and you don't know why.
ESplatter: It's been a weird year for horror. Some great movies without good box office, like "28 Weeks Later.
Yeah "28 Weeks" was great. You see all these kids spend upward of 200 dollars for a weekend horror convention pass. If you're willing to spend htat, why aren't you willing to go to a movie? The people who financed "Hatchet" have already made money off of it. They've already sold it. It's already a success and they're ready to go on a sequel. We don't have the kind of stress that "Grind House" had.
We are only going to be opening on less than 100 screens. They are being smart about that. When I first heard that I was devastated. But the reason they are doing that is that if they blew all their money to put it on 2000 screens that would set back Anchor Bay. What they're doing is just putting in the markets that are doing well for markets for R rated horror. The other thing they are doing that's really smart is they are only putting it in the good movie theaters. In the cities it opens in it will feel like any studio movie. I do like their strategy.
… I think just the nature of the way the box office is going, it will make most of its money on DVD. But it would be nice to see it get a good per-screen average and not just have everyone shrug their shoulders.
ESplatter: So a sequel is in the works already?
I wrote this one with sequels in mind. One thing about slasher films that came before, it is they made the original Nightmare on Elm Street and original F13 thinking that was the movie. It's always easy to bring your villain back. With "Hatchet" I purposely left some things unanswered. The movie makes total sense. When we do the sequel it will explain so much more of the mythology of that character. They are ready to go on the sequel. I haven't signed on yet because I want to see how this one is treated first. I do have a lot of options in front of me that would be much bigger than "Hatchet 2." But my heart is in "Hatchet 2."
ESplatter: What about "Hatchet 3"?
"Hatchet 2" is going to be cool. But "Hatchet 3" is going to be 3-D. We're going to cut off a chick's tits and throw them at the audience.
ESplatter: So why do you think so much of the horror that's being produced today is the PG-13 stuff and remakes?
They make them because they make money. If an original R-rated horror movie makes money, they are going to make more of them. The fans have so much control right now.
ESplatter: It seems like the market for movies is so mainstream right now that a film either has to be PG-13 or has to be an old brand – like "Halloween" or "Texas Chainsaw" – to make any money.
The thing I've learned about marketing. You have to really do it like $20 million or not do it. But you see what happens with movie like "Saw" and "Cabain Fever" and you hope that will happen for mine. Anchor Bay believes in this movie but you wish they had Lionsgate bank account. I do have faith though. I have already gone to horror conventions and I've seen the reaction. But I believe they are going to come, and I think we have a chance.
ESplatter: So what do you think of the state of the horror genre these days
I loved "28 Weeks Later." I loved "Grind House." The state of the genre… people like to say horror is a funk. It's not in a funk. It's not going to die. There will always be a need for it. But what I can't stand is Hollywood's take on the genre right now. The only options are really PG-13 which is fine if it's supposed to be a PG-13 film. … I'm really over the torture porn thing. I think "Hostel" was a great movie. I think the "Saw" movies are great movies. But all the knock-offs they are doing where they think they don't need a story and they can just tie someone to a chair -- that just doesn't do it for me.
One of the reasons I got into horror was when I saw films like "Nightmare on Elm Street." I didn't know whether to fear Freddy or cheer for him. Horror has always been about crossing a line. But anyone can shock somebody. Hollywood right now has no idea about characters and stories. Even the commercials for 'Hills Have Eyes 2' were about how audiences were appalled by "Hills Have Eyes". I could sit at home and watch autopsy videos and be disgusted. With "Hatchet" we're trying to be entertaining. The audiences are wild and rowdy and they leave happy. It's not a new thing that no one has ever done before. It's just done with a new sensibility and we got in there with real actors.
ESplatter: The reviews are good.
I try not to look at stuff online. I don't want to know whether it's good or bad. I don't want to believe the hype. There are so many negative people out there. Every movie that comes out is the worst movie ever on IMDB. With "Hatchet" we've lucked out we haven't got a bad review. We got a bad review from the guy from Fangoria who gives every movie a bad review.
ESplatter: What are the other projects you have on your plate?
I finished a film called "Spiral." It's more of a dramatic thriller. It's going to come out first quarter of next year. AB bought that one as well. We premiered it at the Santa Barbara Film Festival this year. This was a much quicker road than "Hatchet." It's not commercial. It's very art house. The thing that attracted me to it is it's three characters. It could almost be a play. Visually I was able to do things I couldn't do with "Hatchet." We shot "Hatchet" in the summer. We only had 6 hours of darkness a day. A lot of stuff was one take. With "Spiral," it's a gorgeous looking film.
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