Versatile should be Adam Green’s middle name. He’s done comedy, thriller, horror. Just about everything he’s touched has turned to gold. I originally wrote this piece as a reflection of his career- but it turned into something more. It turned into a look at a man who has overcome a great many obstacles, yet manages to remain one of the most respectful, generous figures in the industry. And now, just days after his film Hatchet II got the axe after a short, unrated stint in theaters, I’m here, along with Adam, wife Rileah Vanderbilt, and actor Kane Hodder, to introduce you to the man behind the belt sander.
ADAM GREEN V. THE WORLD
FEAR FILES WITH ANDREA ALBIN
Fear File #1- DIRECTOR ADAM GREEN
The Man- Adam_Fn_Green
The first impression you get from director Adam Green isn’t at all what you would expect. He’s always smiling and loves to shake things up with a joke. He adores his wife, spends a great deal of time giving back to his fans, and does it with an unmatched charisma that even the most seasoned filmmakers can’t touch. He’s also, undoubtedly, one of the nicest guys I’ve had the pleasure of reminiscing with.
Yeah, he’s THAT cool.
Don’t worry- the belt sander thing is just a gimmick. He’s more likely to kill you with kindness. “As much as everyone might think he’s a big badass, he’s not,” boasts Adam’s super-cool wife, actress Rileah Vanderbilt. “He’s a huge softy.”
That’s why it didn’t surprise me that Adam’s first love was ET. “I was uncontrollably crying at the end of the movie. I was taken by the fact that I knew it was only a movie, that I knew it wasn’t real. I knew ET was rubber, but yet something about it just captured my heart like nothing else has since.” And thus, his obsession began. “I became more than just a fan. I was always trying to figure out how they did it.”
ET, the cute beer-drinking alien, wasn’t alone. Adam places The Goonies and Back to the Future alongside Spielberg’s masterpiece at the top of his list. But his biggest guilty pleasure was, and still is, the realm of horror. “The Halloweens, Friday the 13ths, Nightmare on Elm Streets- I watched just about anything I could get my hands on. And when you’re young, they’re not that easy to come by.” Adam recalled sneaking into movie theaters and watching gore-fests when his parents weren’t home. “Horror was like a magic show. I knew the actors weren’t really getting killed, that Michael Meyers wasn’t a real person. But I loved dissecting how they did the effects and camera angles and just the artistry behind it. It’s so captivating.”
Halloween tops the list. “I’ve always been a huge fan of everything John Carpenter did. When I was growing up if his name was on it, you just knew it was great. [Halloween] is perfectly made- it’s smart, it’s stylized. It’s not blood, guts and gore- it was actually scary. No slasher movie is ever going to touch that.”
He knew what he wanted to do. Hollywood had captured his heart. “It was this or nothing.”
COFFEE AND DONUTS (2000), Adam’s indie-flick about two friends and a radio show, was just the start. The now 35-year old director went on to do other projects and immortalize his position as a horror legend with the in-your-face slasher HATCHET (2006).
The Legend of Victor Crowley
“It’s just a campfire tale.”
He wasn’t kidding either. Adam came up with the entire story during sleep away camp as a child. “The counselors were setting up ground rules. They pointed to this one cabin and said `don’t go in there, or hatchet-face will get you.’ All the other kids were in awe. I was like sweet, who is hatchet-face?” When the camp counselors couldn’t give Adam the answers he was hoping for, he made up his own story. “That night when we were all going to sleep, the other kids in my cabin were talking about it. I just launched into this whole story about a disfigured boy and people made fun of him. I just kind of came up with the whole thing right there.”
Personally, I would be intrigued. But his fellow campers didn’t feel the same way. “All the kids started crying. They got upset and told on me. [The counselors] called my parents and even talked about sending me home from camp. I just thought it was funny because they tried to scare us- I just did it better.”
And that he did. Hatchet takes us on a journey into the New Orleans swamp where the legend of Victory Crowley lives. A group of tourists take a tour that leads them to a bloody romp where they discover that the legend of this monster is not only true, but fatal. One by one, the tourists are picked off in some of the most gruesome displays of violence in horror cinema- yet, Adam still manages to add humor to an otherwise horrifying situation. “By making the characters funny, you’re not necessarily going to be heartbroken when they die, but you’ll relate to them more.”
Back on October 1st, with Hatchet 2 making its short lived appearance in theaters, I had the chance to sit down with actor Kane Hodder at the Pleasure Island AMC in Orlando. I was a little concerned about meeting Jason Voorhees/Victor Crowley at a Disney theme park, but the `kill’ tattoo on his lower lip spoke volumes. I obviously came out of there alive, and he agreed with me that creativity is what makes movies, like Hatchet, appealing. “Gore, yes, but more so the creativity of it. Anyone can do gore, but the creativity is what makes the scene.” He then boasted- “Adam comes up with such great kills. I hardly ever have to add to them.”
And Adam sure is creative. People being ripped apart limb from limb. A gas powered belt sander (which really works and took three days to build, mind you) being used on a girl’s face, and of course the infamous head rip. “When you see [Victor] come out of the house, you’re excited to see what happens next,” said Rileah who, alongside Kane and Adam, cited the scene as one of her favorites. “But how he kills her is insane. It’s like being on a rollercoaster- rolling up to the top and then dropping.”
The whole movie was like being in a theme park- from the comedy, to the over the top kills. Though the MPAA tried to “rip the heart out of it” as Kane put it so eloquently, it turned out to be a decent horror flick- one that placed Adam into the elite Splat Pack group of the early 2000′s.
His need for blood ran its course, and Adam eventually took on the project SPIRAL (2007), quickly followed by the thriller FROZEN (2010).
“Hatchet was the most fun- but Frozen is my favorite film. I think that Frozen is the one where I really showed what I could do.”
And the world took notice. Frozen ripped at the hearts of skiers and snowboarders around the globe, tapping into the realism of rickety resort life and human nature. “These are real people. They make real mistakes. They do what real people panicking would do.”
“The idea came from where I grew up skiing. In the Boston area, there were these smaller mountains like Nashoba Valley and Wachusett, that couldn’t stay open during the week because there weren’t enough people. They were only open on the weekends a good portion of the year.” His imagination ran wild. “Then, one morning, I was watching the news here in LA and the weather was on. [The weather is] always the same but the background images on the report change every day. So one morning it was Big Bear Mountain, 7am, and the chairs were just swinging in the wind. Then I thought back to when I was skiing and it just kind of came to me. It’s every skier’s worst fear.”
With that in mind, Adam tackled the project with an open mind. It was different than the projects he had done before, and that was the beauty of it. “Everyone around you tries to put you in a box. It’s like anything. I love Cocoa Pebbles, but if I ate it every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner, it wouldn’t be as fun anymore.”
The movie chronicles three skiers who get stuck on a chairlift. Truthfully, the first time I heard about the film, I thought it sounded boring. Then there were the trailers that painted it like an action movie, which was quickly followed by the news that people were physically passing out in theaters from the intensity of it. Now that’s the kind of arc I like- and what prompted me, and many others, to see the movie. “The MPAA wasn’t going to give it a PG-13 rating. They said it was too intense and that’s really cool, [we] didn’t need all of those effects and gore to make someone feel that way,” said Rileah.
Growing up in Montana, I’ve been a skier since the age of 4, a snowboarder since 12, and a snow bunny my whole life. It takes a lot to scare me, but this film really made me think- could this happen to me? Rileah went on- “Just being up in that chair and realizing how far down it is to the ground, it’s really terrifying. If you’re a skier or snowboarder, it must enter your head all the time.”
Well, now it does. Thanks, Adam.
“The most magical thing about Frozen is that it really is man v. nature. Everyone thought we were crazy. The sense of accomplishment on that last night, knowing that we beat the mountain, I don’t think anyone could understand how [the crew] felt. There’s no way to describe it.”
The Rise (and fall) of Hatchet 2
Fans of Hatchet rejoiced when Adam said he was going to make a sequel. “Adam knew he would do a second Hatchet, and that’s why a lot of questions were left unanswered,” said Kane.
After Adam’s highly noted battle with the MPAA over the original Hatchet’s rating, there was a moment of victory when AMC Theaters announced they would be taking part two unrated under limited release. “If people support it, it will be monumental,” continued Kane. “If not, the MPAA will say `I told you so.’”
“I have such a hard time with the MPAA being so hard on these movies because you can’t take them that seriously,” noted Adam. “There are horror purists out there who don’t like mixing horror with comedy. I just think that’s ridiculous- who hates laughing?”
Due to the struggles of being an independent film, Hatchet 2 went on to enter theaters without billboards and without television commercials. “I hope it changes the game, but maybe it’s going to take a bigger movie, with a bigger budget and bigger marketing campaign to change things. I don’t know. We won’t know what happens until it opens.”
This past Monday, HATCHET 2 (2010) made waves when it was yanked prematurely from theaters in both Canada and the US. Many sources blamed poor box office returns (the film only made around $60,000 opening weekend), and publicity stunts but it was later discovered that many outlets had dropped the film before the weekend had even begun. Some cited their fear of fines. Hell, on the night I saw Hatchet 2, I felt like I was at the airport. I had my ID checked AT LEAST four times. The airport only does it twice. And the last time I checked, Adam is far from being a terrorist. Just sayin’.
Basically, from my view, it didn’t stand a chance. It’s like people panicked. They were crying in the streets. It was hysteria! OK- so maybe it wasn’t THAT bad, but it does raise the question- why was Hatchet 2 removed from theaters? I guess it’ll just be one of those Hollywood mysteries- and unfortunately, Adam was on the receiving end.
“No one likes censorship,” noted Kane, who then jokingly threw in, “I just don’t like people telling me what I can and cannot do. We just want [Hatchet 2] to succeed for horror’s sake.”
Though few people got to see Victor Crowley throwing around a 7 foot long, 135 pound chainsaw, or the return of the beloved belt sander, I’m sure Hatchet 2 will show up on the radar again as a DVD release sometime in the near future. If you haven’t already seen it, Kane promises that “it’s a fun movie.”
If only others had felt the same way. Whatever happened to the old adage- it’s just a movie.
With the drama of Hatchet 2 behind him, Adam will now be working on writing KILLER PIZZA, a project that he is working on with Chris Columbus and 1492 Productions. He also cites an interest in working on his pending rom-com GOD ONLY KNOWS, and maybe even a war movie. “I just haven’t gotten the bug to do that yet.”
“He has the most amazing ability to make things happen for himself. If he gets an idea in his head and he’s really passionate about that idea, he pushes it,” Rileah said. “He just loves good things. I think that’s the biggest thing about Adam- he just loves things that are good.”
Whether you’re a fan of Adam’s films, someone who simply appreciates cinema, or even someone who criticizes his work, you have to admit that he’s a rare breed in a sea of sharks- even if he does like the occasional taste of blood.
For more of my interviews with ADAM GREEN, RILEAH VANDERBILT and KANE HODDER, check me out on my blog, THE ALBIN WAY!
Also: check out KANE HODDER KILLS!–yup, they’re writing a book about the big guy.