Adam Green on ‘Hatchet II’ and Going Unrated!

While some of his peers go “quiet” for a while for whatever reason, Adam Green has been working non-stop for the past few years. Hatchet, Spiral, Frozen, and now Hatchet II (not to mention Grace, which he produced) have all been theatrically released in a 3 year period, and he’s already working on another feature or two. So it was much appreciated for him to stop long enough to talk to us at this year’s Comic-Con, where he was promoting both Frozen and Hatchet II, prior to a whirlwind “tour” that took him across the globe and back. Check below for our exclusive interview with Green, which we present with Hatchet II‘s UNRATED theatrical release just a week away!
Bloody Disgusting: So obviously you TRIED to work with the MPAA for Hatchet II… but at what point did you decide it wasn’t worth trying to cut the film down for R anymore?

Adam Green: Honestly, from the get-go… actually, really when I was standing there on trial against the MPAA on Hatchet 1 is really when I made the decision: “It’s not worth it.” And so when I wrote Hatchet II and everyone read it, they said “You know this isn’t going to be R, they’re not going to go for it.” But we’re not talking about a major studio or major release that’s ever going to get 3000 screens and 50 million in marketing, so my idea was to embrace what it is, and don’t change it. And Dark Sky said “Obviously we want a big of a release as possible, but we will get your back on this. Try to get an R rating, but if you don’t like it, then we’ll figure it out.” And we haven’t gotten an R rating yet, they keep giving us an NC-17 for gore – it got to the point where they started saying “It’s not just trim this or cut away from this”, they’re actually saying, for two deaths in particular, “You just can’t do that at all.” So I’m like “Well, what do we do?” And somebody… (laughs) somebody on their end said “What if you don’t show them at all? And then it’s a question for when the DVD comes out, you can see what happens to that character!” So I said “OK this isn’t going to work”. So, Dark Sky had a screening for all the major chains, and one of the biggest chains loved it and Dark Sky told them what they wanted to take out for the R rating, and how would they feel about showing it unrated? And they went for it! So I don’t know what that means; now it comes down to each specific theater, whether or not in their lease agreement they’re allowed to do it. But the fact that the chain is endorsing it… if this works, whether it’s ten theaters or ten thousand theaters, if it works and the fans actually show up this time, this could set a precedent to change it so that the MPAA no longer has that type of control in what we see. If this theater chain does do what they say they’re going to do, then everybody’s going to want to start doing it. I really feel that this is a big triumph for the genre, if even the theater chains are getting sick of it. I want to see the MPAA restructure how they do things in my lifetime, so we’ll see.

[Editor's note - AMC will be opening the film across the country and in Canada in at least 60 locations as of this writing.]

BD: The movie certainly wasn’t rushed, you went off and did Frozen, Grace, Spiral… but I know they were trying to get you to do the sequel right after the first. So I’m curious, did the movie you ended up making differ much from the film you would have made, story-wise, if you had to do it immediately after H1?

AG: Story-wise, it’s the exact same movie, because I already had it planned in my head. We even show the weapons that Victor Crowley uses in Hatchet II in Hatchet 1, that’s how far along we knew what the story was. But if I made it right after, I don’t think I would have come at it with as much enthusiasm and excitement as I have right now. Hatchet 1 was everything to me and I loved it, but by the time it came out I hated it, I was sick of it. I was beaten up by the bad release, I was beaten up by the MPAA, two years of festivals, and I just wasn’t into it. So I passed on it several times when they started talking about it, I said “Look I’m all for it, I’ll produce it, but pass the torch onto someone else.” And they would threaten like “We will pass this to someone else!” and I’m like “Great! That’s what I’m saying!” And then they’d come back “Come on, it’s gotta be you.” And I’m glad everyone waited, and it wasn’t just me, it was Cory and Sarah, they wanted to wait, Will wanted to wait, Jason wanted to wait… so like halfway through shooting Frozen, my crew would be like “When are we going back to the swamp?” And then it clicked, and I started getting the itch again, and my palms would sweat thinking about it, so I started making secret phone calls to all the crew to see if they had the time available, figuring out when we were going to do it. The original plan was to not tell anyone, we’d do it secret, and then we’d release the trailer and everybody would be like `Oh my god, they made the movie?” but with the internet it’s so hard to keep a secret, so it got out. And so now people ask about Hatchet 3 and 4 – it’s not like Dark Sky is going to rush one out, that’s not what they’re about. I know there will be one, maybe I’ll do them, but as of right now I’m not ready to do another one. I got Killer Pizza, I got some other things… in fact, my reps, my agents, my lawyers, all these people we’re like “Don’t do Hatchet II“, and I said “Why?”, and they said “You shouldn’t do your own sequel, it’s a step back, because it’s another slasher, and we’re trying to get you out of that”, and I’m like “I AM that!” So if anyone’s wondering, this wasn’t for the money, it’s because I love it and I wanted to do it. And also I have complete creative control on this one. My name is above the title now, and it’s not a status thing – it’s the fact that nobody said anything! I had no script notes, I had no cast notes, no anything. Everyone was involved with the making of it, but I had final say and so this movie is 100% pure me. Everything else I do is not really like that. Maybe someday it’ll be like that, but not right now, so this was a great opportunity.

BD: So if we hate it it’s completely your fault? You’re on the record, you can’t blame anyone else!

AG: (Laughs) Yes, it’s completely my fault if you hate it. Obviously we had the usual budget restraints and I don’t know what the marketing is, I have nothing to do with that. But the movie itself is exactly how I wanted it to be.

BD: So your fall’s going to be pretty busy, Frozen on DVD, Hatchet II coming out, Killer Pizza – how do you find time to do all of this?

AG: I’ve been a walking zombie for 5 years now. I go from Comic Con to finishing Hatchet II, doing the color and sound and score, and then from there I go to London for Frightfest for the world premiere, then to Germany for the German premiere, then I come back and Hatchet 1 comes out on Blu-Ray, and then Frozen comes out on DVD and Blu-Ray right after that. Then Hatchet II opens, and then I’m writing Killer Pizza during the whole thing, and then this other project that we’re announcing at Frightfest, this anthology thing people have been hearing about [editor's note: that would be Chillerama]. We will also be continuing the tradition with a new Halloween short, with the same principle as always: “One night, no money, just for fun”. That will be on Ariescope.com around Halloween. So yeah, I don’t sleep.

BD: And yet you’re still here at Comic Con the whole time! Has it been worth it? You could be sleeping right now!

AG: Definitely worth it… actually, just yesterday a guy came though my autograph line. He and his three buddies were in Iraq, and every Saturday they’d watch Hatchet because it would make them laugh so much. And… one of them didn’t come home. Three of them made it back, the fourth one didn’t. And now they’re home, and they all live in different parts of the country, but when Hatchet II comes out they’re all going to meet up somewhere to see it together to honor their friend. That’s so much cooler than any award or anything.

Hatchet II opens UNRATED on October 1st at AMC locations. Check the AMC site and/or Hatchet2.com for theatres near you!