Adam Green has become a legend in the horror industry over the last seven years. He has been behind some incredible and ground breaking horror films. In 2007, Adam revolutionized the slasher film with HATCHET. In 2010, his survival-horror film FROZEN showed his versatility as a director. His latest project, HOLLISTON premieres on FEARnet on April 3rd. Adam spoke with Fun With Horror about HOLLISTON, making history with HATCHET II, and taking a step away from the director’s chair for HATCHET III.
Fun With Horror: Adam, thank you for agreeing to speak with me. I’m a little bit elated.
Adam Green: (Laughs) “Thanks for being interested in talking about the show.”
FWH: I know you are on a time schedule, so I will get right in to it. Tell us about your upcoming TV show, HOLLISTON.
AG: “The show is a traditional sitcom, so it looks and feels just like FRIENDS, or SEINFELD, or THE BIG BANG THEORY. It’s about two guys that are aspiring horror filmmakers stuck in the small New England town of Holliston, Massachusetts. They’re dealing with the dream of wanting to be filmmakers and the reality of being completely broke and nothing working out. There’s also a bit of a love story through the whole thing, in the fact that the Adam character (this is where it gets so weird, because I am referring to myself in the third person) is still reeling from a breakup with is childhood girlfriend. He’s coming to terms with the fact that they have to just be friends, now. It’s inspired by my real life with the main ensemble cast, myself, Joe Lynch, and Laura Ortiz’, parts were all written based on them and on their lives, in some way. Everybody is playing a version of themselves from many years ago. It’s really interesting when we screen it for people. For the first ten minutes, they don’t know what to think, because all of a sudden Joe and I are in a sitcom. It’s almost like that scene in NATURAL BORN KILLERS where it becomes a sitcom. It’s like ‘What? How did this happen?’ And, then heads start exploding and people get stabbed in the face. Then, people are like ‘Oh, now I get it.’ We’re not making fun of sitcoms. It’s not a spoof of sitcoms. It’s a classic sitcom that feels almost like it is right out of 1989. Because, we’re on a network like FEARnet, we don’t have to fit a certain mold or go as a companion piece to a preexisting show. We got to do, really, whatever we wanted. So, the show is really out there. It’s really twisted at times. There’s heart to it as well, though. People forget that about horror fans, too. They think we are all about blood and guts. I’m pleasantly surprised when we screen the show for the horror crowd. They really appreciate seeing themselves represented. If anybody understands what it’s like to have your heart broken, or be rejected, or be told ‘no’, or have your dreams crushed, it’s the horror crowd. It’s long overdue to have a show that accurately shows what a horror fan is. For once, the horror fan isn’t the creepy weird guy in the background, cutting himself.”
FWH: I am certainly looking forward to it. Everything that I have read about it sounds great. I definitely can’t wait. When will the show premiere?
AG: “It premieres April 3rd. Tuesday, April 3rd, at 10:30 PM, on FEARnet. Then, there will be a new episode, every Tuesday, for the next five weeks. There are only six episodes. We started kind of small, but one of the cool things that we did was make each episode monster sized. Instead of the episodes being 22-25 minutes with commercials, they are like 40 minutes. So, each episode is almost equivalent to two episodes. Six episodes actually feel like twelve.”
FWH: Can you tell us a little about the casting of the show, for example, Dee Snyder, and Oderus from Gwar.
AG: “Outside of the main ensemble, my character has an imaginary alien friend that lives in his closet. Of course, Oderus was the first person that came to mind. I first sat down with Oderus to talk about this, almost three years ago, now. It was probably the quickest ‘yes’ I’ve ever gotten in a meeting. I think it was like, five minutes in to the meeting when he stopped me and said ‘Wait, it’s a sitcom and you want Oderus to live in your closet? Yeah I’m in’ Dave, who plays Oderus, has been performing as Oderus for 27 years. I wrote it for Oderus’ sensibilities. He just had a blast with it.Dee was really the only long shot. He’s a very close friend of mine. The character’s name is Lance Rockett. He’s our boss at the cable station that we work at. He’s stuck in the ‘80s. He’s the lead singer for a Van Halen tribute band called Diver Down. He’s still holding on to the dream of being a famous rock star, even though he is 54 and in a cover band. Lance still comes to work dressed in leather pants, with make up and big hair. I actually know a couple of guys like that, living in LA. Especially, when I first moved here and I worked at The Rainbow. There are some guys that have not accepted that 1989 is over. It’s a really funny character. His sexual orientation is ambiguous. The verdict is still out. Nobody can tell if he is gay or straight. Going through my Motley Cru and Poison records, it’s crazy to think that women found that look attractive, at one point. Guys tried to be as androgynous and feminine as possible and they were able to pull huge amounts of ass. It’s hilarious to me. One of the past times Joe and I have, in the workplace, is trying to figure it out. He will kind of overcompensate and be a little too macho at times. But, then he will follow up by telling me how nice my jeans fit.Dee is a very, very busy guy. At the time, he was just coming off of doing ROCK OF AGES, on Broadway and he was about to start CELEBRITY APPRENTICE. He has so much stuff going on, so I didn’t know if he was going to be able to work on our schedule.
A lot of people have this misconception that Dee Snyder is like that character. People think that he really does dress like that or act like that. When, in real life, he’s one of the most normal and grounded people you will ever meet. He doesn’t drink, he doesn’t do drugs. He never did. He’s a wonderful family man. He married his first girlfriend. He’s a really extraordinary guy. So, for him to play this part, especially given that it’s a cast of people who are playing themselves, and he is the only one that’s playing a character, it’s a bold move. But, he really owned it and he went for it. He’s probably one of the funniest things about the show. Each episode, you’re just dying to see what he’s going to be wearing next and what’s going to come out of his mouth. He was able to draw from real life experience. He knows a lot of Lance Rocketts, and he’s met a lot of Lance Rocketts. He had a field day, just making fun of that stigma.”
FWH: Given that the show is on FEARnet, have you had any issues with censorship, or do you have total freedom to do whatever you want?
AG: “We have free reign to do what we want, but within reason. It’s still a TV show. With cable you can get away with a lot more. But, we didn’t have any problems with that, because it’s a comedy. The violence that is portrayed on the show is very funny and cartoonish. We didn’t hear anything back in terms of having to censor anything. I wrote it knowing that it was for TV. So, in terms of language and situations, I wrote for that audience and for that medium. We didn’t really have any problems, at all. If you look at some of the stuff they are getting away with on cable, AMERICAN HORROR STORY, especially, there is some dark, twisted, and disturbing stuff on that TV. Since this is a sitcom, it actually feels like a live action cartoon, in a lot of ways.”
FWH: Moving forward, do you have a date for when HATCHET III will start filming?
AG: Yes. We started pre production yesterday. The make up effects have all been started. We are supposed to start rolling camera by then end of April to early May. We are still narrowing down the exact dates of getting everyone’s schedule together. We have started pre production and we will be starting filming in the spring. I don’t know if it will be out before the end of the year. I know Dark Sky would like to try to have it out by Halloween or Christmas. We’ll see. The great thing about Dark Sky is that they don’t believe in rushing for the sake of rushing. If we can hit that date, that would be great, but at the same time, we want to make sure that we do it right. There was a five-year period between HATCHET and HATCHET II. I shot HATCHET in 2005. I made HATCHET II in 2010, because I needed to go do other stuff. I wasn’t ready to do it. The fact that everybody was willing to wait was really great. A lot of times when a movie becomes successful, it becomes like a conveyer belt. They are like ‘Fuckin’ get the next one out, next year. Do whatever it takes to keep the momentum going.’ I feel like HATCHET II was better because we waited so long to do it. Everybody was really excited to actually come back and do it. The fact that I am not directing HATCHET III makes it a lot easier to move faster. I’m getting to do all of the other things that I want to do and I get to do HATCHET III at the same time. I’m not directly responsible, though, in a lot of ways, I still am. Especially, because I am the one who chose the director, so it’s my ass on the line. I’m still involved with every step. It’s been inspiring to get to see somebody in the place I was in seven years ago – when I made the first HATCHET. B.J. McDonnell – the director – has shot hundreds of movies. He shot HATCHET and HATCHET II and SPIRAL. He’s done Rob Zombie movies. He just did a Tom Cruise movie, before this. But, he’s always wanted to direct. He just hasn’t been given the opportunity. When I told him that he was my first choice to be my replacement, he was so excited that he was, like crying. What’s great about B.J. is that these are the kind of movies that he wants to make. There are people that do horror movies to try to springboard in to something else, but this is what he wants to do. He loves this stuff. He’s so excited to have this opportunity and to be making that movie. The whole crew is excited. It’s all the same people coming back again. Everybody is really feeding off of that excitement. I think B.J. taking over is great. You don’t want it to become stagnant or stale. You want each film to be special. So, it’s really exciting for me to watch him work and to help and guide him. He’s got it, though. He leans on me for some things. I think a lot of it is just that he doesn’t want to let me down. I have all of the confidence in the world in him.
FWH: It may be early to say, but do you think you will go for an unrated theatrical release, again?
AG: “Well, after what happened last time, I really don’t see Dark Sky trying to do what they did last time, in going for an unrated theatrical release, in mainstream theatres. It was such a ballsy move on their part. I’m so grateful that they did that. At the end of the day, it’s such a huge accomplishment that it even happened. The fact that the movie got that far was amazing. The MPAA is so hard to figure out. They will let some things go and then all of a sudden they will pick a movie or a franchise that they are so hard on. Unfortunately, HATCHET has been their target since the first film. They were being so ridiculous with the demands of what they were going to make us cut. Then, Dark Sky worked out a deal with a major theatre chain, where they agreed to take the movie unrated. That hadn’t happened in over 25 years. It was really exciting. Then, 48 hours later, the movie was suddenly gone and nobody knew why and nobody would step forward and admit who actually pulled it or what happened. We made history twice in one weekend, with getting the movie in and with being the first movie ever to be pulled in its opening weekend. The theatre chain said that it wasn’t making enough money, which is complete bullshit. The movie was doing fine. There was no way to even tell how much it was making, because they started pulling it off screens right away. So, how do you figure out a per-screen average or a theatre count when some of them only showed the movie once, or didn’t even show it at all? That same weekend there was a genre movie that came out that actually had a marketing budget. It only made like $300 per screen. When they were asked about that, they were like ‘Yeah, that’s different.’ It was a pretty big scandal, the way that it all went down. I got a lot of support from the industry. All of these directors that I didn’t even personally know, at that point in my life, called me to say what bullshit it was. Then when I would ask them to say something, they would be like ‘Hey, I’ve got a movie coming out. I’m not going to say anything.’ What I would like to see them do is a targeted limited release. That’s what I had originally wanted the last time around. Unless you have about $20 million dollars to spend on commercials and advertising to put a movie in theatres, the right way, nobody really knows it’s there. Horror fans like remakes. They say it’s not true, but it is true. Time and time again, they have proven that. If it’s original, they will wait for Netflix or illegally download it. I would like to see them do midnight screenings in a couple of cities and show the movie without having to censor it. And, then get it out on DVD and VOD as soon as possible. That will ultimately be Dark Sky’s call. Until we have actually made the movie, I don’t think there will really be an answer on that.”
FWH: Which up and coming horror directors are you looking forward to seeing more from?
AG: Well, the main one for me is Paul Solet, who did GRACE. I believed in him enough, off of his short film, to make his first movie for him. I’m dying to see what he is going to do next. He’s been doing a lot of studio writing. I do a lot of that stuff, too. A lot of times, you just end up spinning you wheels, because some of those projects take so long to get going. I’m really excited to see him direct, again. Another one that I’m excited about is Marcus Dunstan, who is really known for being a writer. He did FEAST and a lot of the SAW movies. He directed a movie called THE COLLECTOR. I thought it was excellent. He is just finishing THE COLLECTION, now. So, I am really excited to see what happens there. Another one is Gregg Bishop, who did a movie called DANCE OF THE DEAD. That’s a movie that, unfortunately, a lot of people haven’t seen. It was like John Hughes doing a zombie movie. They made it for nothing, and it was so fun. I’m looking forward to seeing what he does next, as well.
FWH: That came out through Ghost House Underground, no?
FWH: Great movie.
FWH: So, who are your biggest inspirations as a director?
AG: “Steven Spielberg is my Lord and Savior. He is a great artist and a great human being. I almost feel weak, even giving that answer. Who’s not going to say that? He’s really the main reason that I discovered movies in the first place, from this side of watching movies, I should say. When I was eight years old and I saw E.T. for the first time and E.T. holds his finger up to Elliot and says “I’ll be right here” and the music swells, and everybody in the theatre is crying, I just remember going home and my whole life had changed. Not just because I loved the movie, but because I couldn’t figure out why I was uncontrollably crying when I knew it wasn’t real, I knew E.T. was fake. I knew he was a rubber puppet. Yet, I couldn’t stop crying for days. I was like ‘I have to know how they did this.’ As a writer, Chris Columbus was the first person who made me recognize what screen writing was. When I was a kid, and I saw THE GOONIES, I was like ‘Holy shit, these kids are actually talking like I talk.’ Normally that doesn’t happen in movies. That’s what made me start paying attention to dialogue and screenwriting. Now that I am working with him on KILLER PIZZA, it’s just surreal. It’s just so awesome. I’ve never been more nervous than when I turned in the first draft. I kept thinking ‘What is Chris going to think? What is Chris going to say?’ Thankfully, he read it instantly. He called the next day to say how much he liked it. I was shaking. I had to sit down, as soon as I was off the call. I had to call my mom, right away. I was like ‘Chris Columbus just read my script.’ And, she was like ‘The guy who discovered America?’ And I was like ‘No, the guy who did fuckin’ HOME ALONE and shit.’ On the horror side, John Landis is my biggest inspiration. He makes really entertaining movies. AMERICAN WEREWOLF was my biggest inspiration behind HATCHET. A lot of the really serious horror fans will get that. There are four shots in HATCHET that were lifted from AMERICAN WEREWOLF. But, a lot of people instantly go to FRIDAY THE 13TH, because it’s a slasher movie and Kane Hodder is in it. But, they are nothing alike. Sure, it’s a slasher movie and it’s got that formula that every slasher movie has. That was the point. But, it was really the sense of humor and the comedy that made HATCHET an enjoyable, fun movie, to me. AMERICAN WEREWOLF was definitely my biggest inspiration behind that.
A lot of times, it depends on the project. For both SPIRAL and FROZEN, I really studied a lot of Hitchcock movies in ways that I hadn’t seen them before, as a fan. I was watching how he moved the camera, and why. That was really helpful in making FROZEN and SPIRAL. For HOLLISTON, Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld are without a doubt my biggest inspirations. If I can aspire to do what they did and maybe get a tenth of the way there, I’d be pretty happy.”
FWH: I know for most horror fans, it’s always changing. But, right now, what are your top five favorite horror films?
AG: “Right now? Man that is so hard. It’s an answer I hate giving, because it’s too obvious, but JOHN CARPENTER’S HALLOWEEN. I didn’t get to watch it enough, this past Halloween, because I was shooting HOLLISTON. Normally, I watch it at least five or six times, every October. So, I’ve been on a kick with that, just watching it again. There was a poster of HATCHET in London that said ‘The Holy Grail of Slasher Films.’ I was so offended that they had put that on the poster. I see the film posters when you guys see them. HALLOWEEN is the holy grail of slasher films, and I was like ‘How dare you?’ I got so mad. My wife was like ‘It’s your movie. You should be flattered.’ I was like ‘Fuck that. Fuck this shit.’ HALLOWEEN is perfect in every way and it’s probably one of the only slasher movies that is actually great. I can’t really think of any other slasher movies that are actually scary, especially with movies like FRIDAY THE 13TH andA NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. There’s definitely scary stuff in them. The concept of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET is genius, but they are so fanciful and they have become all about the kills and the gore. There’s hardly any gore in the original HALLOWEEN. If I am sick or depressed, HALLOWEEN is sort of like chicken soup or mashed potatoes to me. I think the reason why I’ve been going to it is because when you finish a movie and you’re coming down from it, it’s really hard to reenter real life, again. Doing this TV show, being the writer, the director, the show runner, the star, the producer, I don’t think I’ve every worked so hard on anything. I think that the abuse I’ve put myself through has taken ten years off my life. But, I’ve never had more fun. Now that we’re looking at the release date, I almost don’t want it to come. I don’t want it to be over. Even though there is a very good possibility that we will be doing a second season, it’s really hard. I think that’s probably why I’ve been turning to HALLOWEEN, a lot. Some people would probably try to put something happy on, but I go to HALLOWEEN. Also, I think it has to do with the TV show being about all these struggles and the worst points of my life in a very candid and honest way. When you write it down on paper and you do the table reads and rehearsals, it’s really funny. When you actually perform it and you have to go to that place and feel that way, again, it sucks. There’s a scene in the pilot of HOLLISTON where I am going to be seeing my ex girlfriend for the first time, in a long time, and I think she has come back to see me. I am then introduced to her boyfriend who is much better looking than me, much taller than me, and more successful than me. He’s a doctor. He’s one of those guys that have everything. It’s a very funny scene and in rehearsals, it was funny. But, every time we would actually roll, I would start crying. If you look closely, you can see tears in my eyes, and they are running down my face. I was wanting to re shoot, but everybody behind the monitor said it was funnier that I was so beaten up over it. Part of me thought ‘Great. Funnier is better.’ But, there’s another part of me that was like ‘Fuck you guys. It’s not funny at all.’ I think all of that is what is leading me back to HALLOWEEN being the go to movie, right now.
FWH: Thanks for talking with us.
AG: Awesome, you’re welcome. Good luck with everything!
You can see more from Adam at: www.ariescope.com