I haven’t seen Adam Green’s Hatchet, but after spending some time on the phone with the guy I can’t wait for it. The film is having its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival this week; don’t be surprised if the next time you hear about this movie it’s when the big bucks distribution deal is announced.
Green’s Hatchet is a self-described return to old fashioned American horror, and it stars some of the giants of the field: Kane Hodder, Tony Todd, Robert Englund. And of course, Mercedes McNab, who I interviewed HERE. It’s also got plenty of laughs – in a lot of way this film sounds to me like a cousin to Behind the Mask, already a contender for my top ten list of 2006.
I talked to Green just after he finished screening the answer print of the film. It was his last chance to check the colors and quality of his film before sending it off to Tribeca. I could tell the guy was a little nervous, but most of all I could tell Green’s the kind of horror fan I wouldn’t mind knocking back some beers with while arguing over the best kills in the Friday the 13th series (for the record it’s when Jason slides down the machete in Part IV).
The premiere has sold out, but other screenings have seats available:
Sat 4/29, 11:59pm
AMC Loews Village VII 3
Sun 4/30, 4:00pm
AMC Loews Village VII 1
Thu 5/04, 10:30pm
AMC Loews 34th Street 9
Sat 5/06, 11:45pm
AMC Loews Lincoln Sq 6
Head over to www.tribecafilmfestival.org for info on how to get tickets.
Q: The cut you’re premiering at Tribeca is your final cut?
Green: Yes. It will be my final cut. Everybody seems to assume that the MPAA is going to have a very big problem with this, but I have faith – because I’ve never dealt with them before – that they’re going to be really cool, nice people and let me have my little horror film.
Q: I’m sure that if we put that in print and they read it they’ll be swayed.
Green: Exactly. I hear they’re very reasonable people and they’re big fans of old time slasher films.
Q: Obviously you’re a big fan of old time slasher films. You were once in a band called Haddonfield – that gives you a lot of cred.
Green: That’s so funny. Yeah, Haddonfield was a metal band I used to front back in Salem Massachusetts. I’ve been in bands all my life and Haddonfield was the last one; it kind of sounded like old Van Halen, and it was a great time. We used to have the Michael Myers head on a stake behind the drumset. I don’t know why we called it Haddonfield – it just sounded like a cool name for a band. Now I hear there’s a German band called Haddonfield and they’re stealing my thunder. Good for them.
Q: What is it that you like best about slasher films?
Green: What I like best about slasher films is what I think most people like, which is the villain. The mythology behind how the villain became who they are, the fact that the villain is usually death itself and there’s no way to escape it is what’s so fun. When you have people like Michael Myers and Freddie and Jason it got to the point where the movie was more about seeing what they would do next rather then the other characters in it.
Once Scream came around it was cool because it kind of brought it back, but it kind of made it a WB whodunit type thing, and at the end of each one there was a mystery. It was like Scooby Doo, at the end they would pull off the mask, and I was let down – I wanted to see something horrific beneath that mask. Then they kind of beat that to death and now in the 2000s it’s all remakes and torture films. I’m hoping that people will respond to Hatchet and get what I’m trying to do and we can bring it back around to the way where horror was actually entertaining and fun. There’s a lot comedy in the movie, but there’s no comedy with the horror, if that makes sense. It’s not like Scary Movie where it’s spoofing anything, it’s just really fun likable characters who get put in the most awful situations.
Q: In the last few months I’ve been seeing a resurgence of old fashioned fun horror movies. There’s Behind the Mask, which is another slasher film, Abominable, which is a fun creature feature, and of course Slither. Why do you think that’s coming back?
Green: I think the best way to describe it is that guys like Ryan Schifrin and James Gunn and myself are all basically the same age, and that was the stuff we grew up on. We paid our dues and have gotten to the point where we can direct films know and that’s what we know and that’s what we love. It’s starting to come back around again.
Q: But do you think audiences are ready for it? Slither performed terribly.
Green: It’s unfortunate because Slither was so great. These things always come down to marketing. There are always horrible horror movies – I’m not going to name them – that do outrageously huge numbers at the box office and we all know that it’s not because the movie was so great, it’s because of how much they spent on marketing. With Slither I feel that the people marketing it thought that they would be able to tap the comedy audience and the horror audience by making trailers that were silly. The problem with that is horror fans typically don’t like their stuff silly. They want it to really be a horror film. And comedy fans won’t go see a movie called Slither with slugs in the trailer. I think that kind of misfired on both sides.
A lot of it’s luck too – it opened against Ice Age 2, which obviously is going to do really well. It’s just unfortunate and I hope that James Gunn knows how awesome that movie was and how much the people who saw it liked it. With the studio all that matters is money, but Slither was absolutely fucking great.
Q: In Hatchet you’re working with some horror icons. How did you get these guys involved?
Green: Each one kind of has their own story. John Buechler helped me put this together when I was still trying to raise the financing. He had read the script and he loved the direction I was trying to bring the genre back in. He helped me make this mock trailer, and that was what we used in conjunction with the script to raise funding. After that he was like, ‘You know, I could show this script to Kane Hodder.’ I was like, oh my God, that would be great. He went to the set of Devil’s Rejects and gave him the script and a few days later Kane called and said he would love to meet for dinner.
I was terrified; this was the first time I had actually met him. I had gone to fan conventions and everytime he had just left or something. We sat and had dinner and talked about it and he just said count me in. But even then I don’t know if he actually thought it would happen or not, because we didn’t have the money yet. Then we got the money and things started working.
Tony Todd I got to work with on one of Buechler’s SciFi movies that used to be called Total Rex but I think now is called Tyrannosaurus Rex. I just was stopping by the set to ask John for some advice with the schedule for Hatchet and he put me in the movie. I got to do two scenes and one of which I was a dead security guard by Tony Todd’s feet. We got to talking and I called his manager and just begged for him to let Tony see the script and see what he thinks before saying no. Because we couldn’t afford any of these guys.
Robert Englund is the best story because the agent was pretty resistant up front because he didn’t think we had enough to afford a cameo. These guys know what they’re worth in a horror movie. I went to the first Masters of Horror kick off part and while I was there Robert Englund was there. Everybody’s walking up to him and handing him business cards and telling him about their script – everyone looked like they were annoying the hell out of him. I didn’t say anything to him; I’m just not like that. I don’t typically talk to strangers anyway. He oddly enough came up to me and tapped me on the shoulder because he wanted to know where I got the Marilyn Manson shirt that I was wearing. For people who end up reading this who are Marilyn Manson fans, I was wearing the Suicide King shirt from the Mechanical Animals tour, which they only sold on a few dates. It’s very hard to get. I told him I didn’t know where he could get one, they’re very hard to find, and he just stood there for a second. I don’t know if he expected me to take it off my back and give it to him or what, but I was like, sorry dude, you’re not touching my Manson shirt.
That night I got home and I looked on eBay. I’m a concert shirt connoisseur, I know everything about them. Randomly enough that shirt was there, brand new, size large, closing in 20 minutes for 75 dollars. I said fuck it and bought the shirt. I called his agent the next day, and told him I got him a gift and wanted to send it to him. Sure enough my script went to the top of the pile and he actually read it. Once he read it – we have this on the behind the scenes DVD stuff – he called and it was a thirty minute call where I didn’t get to say one word except for ‘Thank you sir, Mr. Englund.’ He kept on going about how much he loved it and how he hoped this works because the fans need it right now.
They just got the spirit of it. Every director who makes their movie likes this thinks great things about it because it’s their vision and they worked so hard and the fans kind of take that or leave it sometimes – they want to know if it’s good or if it’s not. It’s time to show now if it’s good or if it’s not. Hopefully it lives up to the early reviews and the hype.
Q: CHUD.com on MySpace is friends with Hatchet on MySpace. I wonder how important you think that kind of marketing is.
Green: The internet is obviously a huge asset for all the marketing. The Hatchet website alone, when we were in production the web journals we put up were literally getting 10,000 hits per day. It was unreal. You can look and you can see what countries people are logging on from – it’s Yugoslavia and Japan, it’s so exciting to see that everybody’s following along. What’s really helping us is that a lot of horror fans feel personally invested in this film now because they watched us make it. They want it to be good and have their fingers crossed. I can’t describe it, but when the cast and the crew knew that on set it made you try that much harder, because you don’t want to let people down.
MySpace… everybody has a MySpace page now. Personally I think MySpace is the gayest thing of all time. I actually wrote this on my MySpace page, but those VH1 shows, like I Love the 90s, are going to rip MySpace to shreds in a few years because it’s so stupid. Really all it is is a chance for girls to slut it up when it’s not Halloween. It’s so funny, you look at all these pictures and every girl’s half naked. I actually had an argument with my own girlfriend because she’s had a page for a while. Some of my friends were saying to me, ‘Dude, her pictures are a little too much.’ I looked at it and was like, ‘Rileah, it’s called MySpace, not MyUterus.’
But it’s been fun on MySpace because I’ve met a lot of cool people and I find myself sadly enough really getting into it. One of the guys I just became friendly with is Brian from Ghost Hunters. I’m a huge fan of that show and he and I ended up writing through MySpace because his girlfriend is a big fan of Mercedes McNab and they’ve been following the making of Hatchet. He’s actually driving to New York for the premiere now, so that’s pretty cool.
Q: The film is premiering at Tribeca. You don’t usually picture slasher movies making the festival circuit.
Green: It’s seriously amazing to have a slasher film, especially like this. I can’t describe it but it’s not Scream; it’s old school ripping people to shreds on camera. I was shocked when we got in. I didn’t even know that the producers submitted it. The movie’s taken a very long time to finish and part of that was because I left to go direct Spiral, but when I heard we got selected for Tribeca I thought they were kidding. Then all of a sudden look in the New York Times… I already had it set up that I would have a screening in LA in March and every distributor would come. They all know about it, they’ve all been following it. They agreed come to our cast and crew screening and I thought it couldn’t get better than this; they’re going to see it in a really friendly environment and they’re going to love. Then we got into Tribeca and it’s a whole new playing field. Now it’s not about getting a distributor, it’s about how big the distributor’s going to be and how big the movie’s going to go.
It’s also a lot of pressure. I’m not really into the Hollywood scene so much and I’ve never been to a big festival like this. People tell me in the audience it’s a lot of suits and executives who sit there with arms crossed and try not to show any reaction because they’re basically playing poker with the other distributors who are there. I’m just going to start throwing up on myself and crying if there are jokes going by that I know are funny but they’re just not laughing. It’s going to be very nerve wracking to know what’s going on behind the scenes with the sales agents and the lawyers and all that stuff. But I’m trying to just get my mind off that and enjoy the movie. The fact that our first night sold our so fast is amazing, and there’s no way it’s just distributors that did that. It’s going to be the horror fans. I cannot wait to see their reactions and meet everybody.
Tribeca’s been really pushing the film. I didn’t believe it, but the first word I heard when we got in is that the people who run the festival said Hatchet is in their top three, if not their favorite movie in the festival. I said, that’s bullshit, it’s what they say to everybody to get them excited. But everytime you read something in the New York Times about Tribeca, they mention Mission: Impossible: 3, Poseidon, a couple of other movies, and Hatchet. I’m just so floored that they’re that happy to have it in there. It all feels like a dream and any minute I’m going to wake up and everybody will say, ‘What do you mean, Tribeca? The movie turned out like shit!’
Q: You must be getting lots of offers.
Green: The stuff I’m being offered is only horror movies right now. Horror movies are my passion – I have all the action figures and the posters, I’m a fanatic. But at the same time I do want to make other kinds of movies. The next one I’m going to be announcing, hopefully before the end of Tribeca, is a comedy. I can’t say who’s in it yet because the papers aren’t signed, but I think horror fans are going to be floored to see who I’m working with on the next one because it’s so not horror. It’s awesome.