A Conversation With Adam Green
Adam Green has been making great horror movies, and great horror-comedy television, for 12 years now. He burst onto the genre scene in a big way in 2006 with Hatchet, his ode to the stalk-and-slash, unstoppable killer genre that he grew up watching.
But now, with his first feature release in three years, Green has returned to the Louisiana bayou where it all started. For many directors, going back to the beginning might seem a form of defeat, an unspoken concession that they’re out of original ideas. But not Green. If anything, the murky swamp waters have revitalized him in a way that few fans might have expected.
Green not only filmed Victor Crowley in secret, but he made the decision to take the film, once completed, on the road, traveling across the U.S. to stop in big cities and small towns to screen the movie for fans, which generated incredible buzz and early, very-positive, word-of-mouth.
BVB: Blood Violence and Babes had the opportunity to speak to Green by phone recently about his iconic franchise, and the inspiration for his deformed and tortured lead character.
BVB: I still consider the original Hatchet to be one of the, probably the best, most brutal slasher films that’s ever been made outside of the genre’s heyday in the 1980s. It was just so cool how you mixed the subversive humor with the unbelievably gory kills, and it worked really well. And then with the two sequels that followed, I enjoyed them, but I felt like that thrill from the original was somewhat diminished. But now, having had a chance to watch Victor Crowley, I’m just blown away. I mean Victor Crowley is a wonderful return to what made the introduction of that character so special to begin with.
Adam Green: Thank you. Yeah, the first three movies, they’re one movie. You have a first act, a second act and the literally explosive third act. And, so, with this one, it was like even though it’s a sequel, I got to go back to the beginning again, in a way. I also think, not only story-wise with this, but the whole reason I came back to it and made another one, because I really never intended this, it was always just supposed to be that one movie in three parts, I just had something to say again, which I didn’t even realize all that I had to say until other people started reading it, and telling me what I had to say (laughing). Some of it is incredibly obvious. It’s very obvious that this is my divorce movie, and I wasn’t thinking like that when I wrote it, but when you watch it, it’s like, ‘Oh shit, yeah, clearly.’ So, I just think this is the culmination of the last 10 years. It’s the culmination of all the bad stuff I went through, it’s the culmination of Holliston, of Frozen, of Digging Up the Marrow. It’s just all in this, and I think that’s probably the reason why it’s being so well-received. Usually, when you get to the fourth part of something, it’s usually just kind of terrible.
BVB: When I went into it, I was hesitant, I’ll be honest with you, because, like I said, I loved the original film, and I really did like the two follow-ups that continued that same progression of the story through the next two acts. But, it was funny, I didn’t realize how much I had missed Victor Crowley until I got to see him in action again. And I think that’s a testament to you, and the creation of this character – and I want to ask you about the original inspiration for Crowley going all the way back to the first Hatchet, but obviously he reminds me of the types of backwoods madmen that I grew up on watching in movies like The Burning and Madman. That kind of character was a staple of the ‘80s horror output, but you’ve been able to make him seem fresh and new, which is wonderful.
Adam Green: Well, I came up with Victor Crowley when I was eight, at summer camp, and it was really kind of a necessity because it was the only summer I ever went to camp, and the counselors had said stay away from this one cabin, or else Hatchet-Face will get you. It was just the cabin they partied in, now I know that, but that’s all they had. They didn’t have a story. There was nothing to it. And I wanted to know everything, because I was so into this kind of stuff. So, I was like, ‘Well, why is he called Hatchet-Face?’ and ‘What is he going to do?’ They were just sort of put off by me, but then that night, the other kids in the cabin were like, ‘Do you think Hatchet-Face is going to get us?’ And so, I made up the story, right there on the spot, and it’s the exact same story that’s in the films today. And for 20 years, I guess 22 years, I just sort of sat on it. I used to tell my teachers, and my friends, ‘Someday I’m going to go to Hollywood and I’m going to make the Victor Crowley movie.’ And John Buechler (special effects) told me on the first one, ‘You need to come up with a better story, where you came up with it and where the name comes from, even if you say, Oh, he’s the creepy guy who used to skin cats in the neighborhood, or something like that. You’ve got to have something better.’ But, it literally was just an instantaneous name. It sounded cool. And that was it. It was that simple. But, I think that’s the key to any good villain, the mythology has to be a very standard and simple campfire story that anybody can retell in a matter of minutes, at least for the basics of it, and then he’s got to be sympathetic in one way, or another. If he’s just a rotten, evil person, there’s not enough to it.
But I think what’s made him last, especially in the second movie, where you got to really hear the story about where he came from, you can’t help but pity him. I was just saying to Kane (Hodder) yesterday when we were doing press, is it weird to him that the audience always cheers every time he kills somebody, but then they cheer the loudest when Victor Crowley gets it in the end, how does that make you feel? And he’s like, well, I think they cheer loudest when I go because they know, no matter what, I’m going to come back, and it’s like, see you later for now. But not with the third one, that was it. And he’s like, ‘Yeah, but nobody was clapping in the third one.’ And he was right, a lot of people were really sad. I mean, that’s the only moment where he speaks on camera, and when he’s looking at the urn and says, ‘Daddy,’ and he realizes he’s dead and his father is gone, which is incredibly sad. But that whole thing was building up, that’s just parallel to Mary Beth, they’re both paying for the sins of their fathers. And that’s their connection. And, as you hopefully saw, if you watched through the end credits, there’s that little surprise at the end for where it’s going, and hearing the audiences in theaters just erupt when that moment happens was a really, really great feeling.
BVB: Yeah, that was awesome, because I do, I watch through the credits now. It’s something I think Marvel has now conditioned all of us that you never know when someone might take a page from their playbook and plop something in unexpectedly. And so I was, I was watching the credits and all of a sudden it kicks over to the news coverage, and it was just magnificent. And then to have Danielle come back in was just fantastic. It was brilliant. Have you already sketched out the next chapter? Is that something that fans can actually start looking forward to?
Adam Green: Well, I mean, what I can say is that with the original, I had all three movies basically outlined when I made the first one. Kane knew a lot about what was to come. Tony Todd knew everything about the second one before he signed on for the first one. We even made sure we showed some of the weapons that he was going to use in later films in the shed in the first one. I just think that one of the mistakes – maybe not mistakes – but one of the weaknesses of the ‘80s slashers, which I will defend until my dying day, I don’t care how bad of a film one of them might be, I loved them, but they were born out of commerce, and necessity. One of them would do really well, and then it was, ‘Well, let’s make another one.’ And it was always different voices and different crews and different people that were doing them. And I think what’s made this special is that it’s always been the same people behind the scenes, at least in the key positions.
With this one, I, of course, had a plan for what’s to come, and as people will hopefully get to find out, that’s why I brought him back the way I did because he knows his father is gone now. He’s always keep crying out for him, that’s the only word he really knows, but in subsequent ones, now I can get him out of the swamp because he’s going to go looking for somebody else this time, which was the point of that final scene because she knows he’s coming for her. So, now I can really elevate things and just really go nuts, but I just did not want to keep making the same movie over and over again.
So, just like the first three, these next three will play out like one film, again, but the problem is that the industry has changed. Once the first one took off, which was a gamble the way I ended it, I had to know that might be it when I went with that ending where it cuts black, which I was fine with if that was it, but I really wanted to get a chance to tell the whole story. Now, though, with streaming and piracy and all that stuff, there is absolutely no guarantee there’s going to be more unless this is supported by the fans. If people are like, ‘I’m gonna wait for Netflix,’ or ‘I’m gonna see it this way or that way,’ there’s not going to be anymore. So, it’s scary. I think, given that this is already a hit and it hasn’t even come out yet, between the tour and – I mean, we were number three on Amazon two weeks ago. Number one was It on Blu-Ray, and number two was It on 4K, and then it was this, so we were really number two, as far as I’m concerned. And we were above Happy Death Day and Jigsaw and Get Out, I mean, movies that were big, big theatrical releases with millions of dollars put behind them in marketing, and then there’s this scrappy little cult movie that has no marketing behind it whatsoever. It was just me, literally driving from city to city and showing it. It’s pretty remarkable.
So, I think it looks like there will be more, but you never know. The other thing too that I think has helped the series is that I always take a few years off in between, and I go do other stuff, so every time we make one we’re really excited to do it, and we’ve gone and had more experience under our belts and so we can always bring something new to it. But I don’t want to get into a situation where it’s like, it’s Halloween, so that means there’s a new Hatchet movie. You can burn out really fast.