Indie horror hero Adam Green discusses his latest film Victor Crowley, heartbreak and healing through horror, censorship, Women in Horror, and much more.
Adam Green again pulled the wool over everyone’s eyes with the release of Victor Crowley, the fourth installment in his beloved Hatchet franchise. As with the film, Digging Up The Marrow, Green decided to keep everything about Victor Crowley hush until its surprise premiere on August 22, 2017 in Hollywood.
A few days after pulling off one of the biggest surprises in Horror History, Adam received a standing ovation at Frightfest UK in London for the movie. It was only the second time in Frightfest UK’s 18 year run that a film earned a standing ovation.
Needless to say, it delighted fans and continued to do so during its “Dismember America” theatrical roadshow in the month of October, where Green visited several cities to screen Victor Crowley and engage in Q & As with audience members.
I fucking love horror, and I’m a very big Adam Green fan. So when the opportunity presented itself to have a chat over the phone with one of the most successful creators currently working in the genre, I squeed like a little schoolgirl.
VICTOR CROWLEY was the most fun I had at the movies in a long time — giving me plenty of laughs, while incorporating the loss of many limbs — with a fantastic and eclectic cast who play their parts brilliantly. To say I was excited to discuss this film with Adam is a serious understatement.
(Just a heads up, there ARE some spoilers for the film in my talk with Green.)
INTERVIEW WITH ADAM GREEN, WRITER / DIRECTOR OF “VICTOR CROWLEY” AND CREATOR OF THE “HATCHET” SERIES
Danni Darko: Hello, Adam! Let me start by saying I’m super excited that Victor Crowley is finally coming out on the 6th. You pulled off one of the biggest surprises in horror movie history with the film’s premiere. Why did you want to keep it a secret and surprise fans?
Adam Green: Really, there was a lot of reasons this time. We had experimented with this with Digging Up The Marrow where, when we announced it. we kind of lied to everyone and said it was an ‘art documentary’ just so nobody would be interested — and it worked famously. So, for anybody that wants to keep people away from what they’re doing, just use the words ‘art’ or ‘documentary’ and nobody will care. And really, because there was no way to explain that movie without seeing it — because if you explained what it was, people would come to these negative conclusions — it just worked better for the movie to just show it.
Then with this one, a little bit of it was I just feel that everything gets spoiled now, because it’s like something is over a year. First there’s the announcement that you’re going to make it, and then there’s the casting news, and then you start production…and then there’s set visits, and clips and a teaser trailer…then the trailer and the poster. By the time the thing comes out, you’re over it already.
So I just think it’s more exciting for the fans when it’s just all of sudden here’s a movie that you had no idea was coming, and it also allows us to just worry about the movie and not have any type of outside interference or expectations being built. I just think it was something really fun to do. Especially because, if you had asked me just three years ago if there would ever be more Hatchet movies, I would have definitely said no. I was so done with it after the third one. It was just supposed to be that trilogy. But, life changes.
DD: Well, I’m super happy that your mind was changed because I was on the ‘Dismember America’ tour and was blown away. Then I got to screen it again last night, and I’m reminded how much I absolutely love this movie!
AG: Oh great!
DD: Yeah, it seemed like it got edited a little bit. You kind of spoke about that too, on the tour. And I’m bummed out because that scene in the bookstore is hilarious.
AG: Oh, wait, so the version they sent you was edited?
DD: Yeah, it didn’t have the boobs and the penis. I don’t think there was any gore taken out though…it just seemed like the bookstore part was the one that was edited.
AG: Yeah, (sigh) I know.
DD: To echo what you said on the tour, I don’t understand the edits because I really loved that scene, and I don’t get that they can show some beheadings…but they get freaked out by some boobs and a penis.
AG: Well, yeah, it was the penis. It’s a commentary on the gratuitous female nudity of this sub-genre. And this was long before this recent movement in Hollywood where women are finally speaking up.
You know, I wrote this well over two years ago, two and a half years ago at this point. And it was just like, these movies celebrate all the tropes that we’re used to. But even I am just over it. Like why is it always just the women? So that’s what that joke was. And throughout the tour there were so many women that thanked me for doing that.
AG: They were like, “It’s about time.” That scene (that was edited) was something, if it was up to me, that would be in it. And it is in all physical versions of the movie, but not the streaming version, which sucks! I’m just now finding out that’s the version they’re sending out for people to review. It’s a bummer because, I mean, you saw on the tour…that’s probably the best joke of the movie.
DD: And it was very well received, too.
AG: It sucks. And unfortunately, until the day comes that I can finance my own films, I have to deal with this kind of shit.
DD: Well, the movie, I don’t think, suffers at all because of it. I had an amazing time re-watching it again last night.
AG: That’s good.
DD: On the tour, also, you kind of mentioned that when (Joe) Lynch first read Victor Crowley, that he pointed out some interesting stuff — the severed ring finger, the discord between the characters of Andrew and Sabrina. Was writing Victor Crowley a cathartic experience for you, in some ways, do you think?
AG: Yeah, it definitely was. And I didn’t even realize it until people started reading it and commenting how they were looking deeper into it. I think, with anything, you always put yourself into it. And that was one of the reasons I wanted to make this one. I felt that I had something to say with Hatchet again.
The first three movies are really one movie. They start and stop right where the other one left off. So after the first one, it was really a second act, and then a literally explosive finale. And then that was supposed to be it. But like I said, life happened. And you go through stuff…then you find yourself with a different point of view and something to say.
Typically, with a slasher movie, you’re not really looking too deep into it. But it has been interesting that that’s one of the things people want to discuss after they see it, which is great. But at the time, I was completely unaware that I was working through divorce and all that stuff.
But, it’s definitely my divorce movie, for better or for worse haha. All the characters are either in relationships that are coming apart or relationships that are trying to start and being stopped. One of the moments that became really difficult for me to watch once I realized that was what was happening, is the moment where…
DD: Oh, Tiffany Shepis’ character, right? That is a rough scene man.
AG: I wanted to do something different with this one, which is why most of it takes place around the crashed airplane. You know, we’ve seen the swamp three times now. We’ve seen inside Victor Crowley’s house, and we’ve blown it up. We’ve seen inside the shed. And I just don’t want to keep making the same movie.
One thing the other three movies never had, which was a decision, was suspense, or dread. They were just fun and very gory, but there was really nothing scary. Maybe like a jump scare here or there…but, like, my dog could do them. For this film, I felt like adding claustrophobia — and putting them in a situation that was sort of un-winnable, because whatever the chose to do was the wrong thing to do. If they get off the plane, they’re going to die. If they stay on the plane, they’re going to drown a pregnant woman.
But once I really accepted that his was my divorce movie, I realized the reason why I drowned Casey was because, like in real life, all I’ve ever wanted is kids. From like, the day I was born, that’s all I’ve ever wanted. Now I’m like looking at my friends that I grew up with, who are the people I socialize with and hang out with the most, and some of their kids are getting their learner’s permit and starting to drive.
I made such a mistake in who I married that I feel like I missed the boat, and I think that’s why I drowned Casey. All of the characters are based on myself in some way, and once I kind of came to terms with what the movie was, and the next screening when that happened, it really really hurt. But I do love that no one expects to feel anything in a movie like this, and at every screening on the tour you could hear a pin drop when that happened…which was wonderful to see.
DD: I’m a huge fan of yours, especially the Hatchet franchise. This one was especially great because of the banter between some of the characters…I cared for them. I care for Andrew more than I ever had previously in the franchise. I had a really good time with this movie. But, yeah, you seriously feel for the characters. And I resonate a lot with what is going on in the movie, which I really wasn’t expecting. Damn, Adam, I even cried a little bit. But I also definitely cheered too. I love your writing style — your mix of humor and horror is just unparalleled, in my mind.
AG: I think it’s important to entertain people, and sometimes that can be forgotten in this genre. It’s not hard to do gore, or jump scares, or violence. And it’s like, if that’s all your movie has, then no one is really going to want to re-watch it. But that is why with the original, I tried to make the characters somewhat fun. Because the thing with the 80s slashers, when you look at those, no one really cared about anybody. Sometimes you were outright bored just waiting for the next time Michael Myers or Freddy or Jason was on screen.
So I tried to make entertaining experiences possible, I think. Hopefully every filmmaker just keeps growing and adding on to what they’re doing. But I think having had the chance to do two seasons of ‘Holliston’ and then go back to just doing straight comedy again, like when I first started — and then having the experience of making movies like ‘Frozen’ and ‘Marrow’ and ‘Spiral’ — I think it all kind of led to this. So this is kind of a good cross section of lot of the different things that I do.
DD: Oh, it most certainly is in my opinion. But talking about gratuitous gore though, I thought Felissa Rose’s kill scene was amazing, and when I first saw the scene…
AG: That was the other one! They almost cut that out.
DD: No! Oh god, no no no. Because when I first saw the scene at Son of Monsterpalooza in September, when you guys had your panel, my jaw dropped. And then seeing it in its full glory on the big screen during the tour, it was spectacular. Is it easy by now to approach (Robert) Pendergraft (Special Makeup Effects Artist) with over the top sequences…and was this particular scene difficult at all to create?
AG: You know, they all are always difficult. And it’s always the same thing each time where I come up with something I just want to see and I think is really fun. I give it to Pendergraft, and usually he quits. Then he comes back around and says, “Can we use any CG?” And I say, “No CG, it’s all got to be practical.” And then he quits again. But somehow he always does it.
Some of them, I still don’t understand how he did it. Like the chainsaw kill in part two…. we had wires running through the top of the stage because the guys had to be swung (flown?), and the chainsaw weighs 125 pounds. Kane couldn’t even lift it up, so that was on wires…
DD: Holy shit!
AG: And it’s something that goes by in a matter of seconds, and it takes months to build that and to get it right to make it work. But it’s so worth it. Because yeah, you could do things a little bit easier if you did things digitally, but it never looks or feels the same when you do it like that. It works when you’re going to fix something or enhance something. But if you’re going to straight up only use it, it’s like you’re watching a cartoon, and I think that — especially seasoned fans — can see right through that.
AG: So Felissa’s death was definitely a challenging one, but really just the one shot of the cell phone coming out of her mouth…because they had to do a life cast of her and build something that could stretch, but still hold its shape when the arm pushed through. I think it’s up for just over a second, but that’s what really sells the gag. The rest of the time you’re basically looking at her legs or the ground. And the sound effects obviously helped, but I’m so happy that got to stay in the movie. Because at a certain point, that was another thing they were having a problem with. And then it won like four awards in Toronto, and they kind of couldn’t take it out at that point.
And the thing is too, I understand where they’re coming from because it’s not like arbitrary decisions. Right now, it’s a very weird time in Hollywood, where everybody is just dying to be offended by everything, and they just look for any reason to complain. And hopefully this phase ends pretty soon. I am so happy that I’m not doing stand-up anymore. What do you do? That’s what stand-up is. It’s saying the things that nobody would normally say. And you know, it’s a joke, but you can’t even joke anymore. Everyone is so uptight. And as much as they’re claiming, “Oh, we’re stepping forward. This is a monumental time,” we’re really taking a step back. This is not the right way to be doing it.
DD: I agree with you.
A: So understandably, they were like, “Alright, you’re going to shove a woman’s arm up through her body. Nobody is going to be offended by this.” And then it just takes one, and the rest of the social justice warriors — who don’t even know what they’re talking about and never saw whatever it is — they jump on board, and they’re outraged.
How you can take anything in any Hatchet movie seriously is beyond me. But you know, they’re just trying to be careful. So I get it. But I’m so happy that it’s still in the movie. It’s the closest we’ve come to topping Mrs. Permatteo’s face getting ripped in half in the original.
DD: Oh yeah! Like one of the best kill scenes ever! Seriously. The whole Hatchet franchise has some really, really epic ones. But I’m glad that you touched upon what we were just talking about…like how touchy everyone is kind of right now. But February is Women in Horror Month, as I’m sure you already know. And throughout the Hatchet franchise (and in Frozen too), you incorporate some really strong female characters. Is this important to you to include in your films?
AG: Thank you! It’s incredibly important for me, and it’s one of the things I always loved about the horror genre. It always comes down to a woman, and I’ve always loved that and really love celebrating that.
I also love a good character arch. Not everybody can be Ripley…not everyone can start out a total badass and be really tough. I loved seeing somebody kind of rise to the occasion, because it’s just a more interesting story to follow. But especially for someone who watches Holliston, Corri and Laura are the highlight of that show. It’s not Joe and I. It’s them. And they’re the most fun to write for.
By like the second episode to air, Laura was really the star of that show, so it’s just great that people can recognize that. Because one of the things that really, really offended me was, it happened almost nightly on the tour, where somebody — whether it was in the Q & A or afterwards — would say, ‘That was really smart thinking having such a diverse cast.” And I’m like, “Dude, you do understand that Parry Shen has been in this since the get-go, and Laura is like my sister and my best friend. She’s been in this since the second one, and I work with her all the time. All of these people are my friends that I wrote parts for.
Until we get to the point where you have a diverse cast because that is the cast and not just because you’re trying to check off boxes, you don’t really have change. Forcing people where you have to have one black guy in, and you gotta have one Asian…it’s like, dude, come one. It all comes down to the writing. You just need to write good roles for everybody.
DD: So, out of all the characters that you’ve ever written, who is your favorite?
AG: Definitely Laura on Holliston, for sure. And then in this movie, again, Rose is probably my favorite character. But Dave Sheridan’s Dillon is a close second.
DD: Oh, he’s so funny!
AG: He’s just the typical hero in everything he does, in that he’s trying to help other people. But then he’s not your typical hero, in that he’s so dumb. But he is all heart and no brain. In any other movie, I think that character would be played very straight, and it would be played by some like some kind of Chad Michael Murray looking dude. But the fact that, even when everyone else is being so mean to him, he still is putting them first — right up until the end, which I don’t think he even realized what he was doing.
Something that no one will see is he ad-libbed a line on one of the takes where he said, “Take care of my identical twin brother” and then went running at Kane. And afterwards everyone is laughing and he’s like, “I know how this series works. You say you have a brother, and you get to come back.” We already did that dude…sorry, you’re dead!
DD: Right on. Adam, I can’t thank you enough for all of your time.
AG: Thank you so much. And thank you for taking the time to come and see it…and thanking you for writing about it.
DD: Well, your fans love you Adam. We adore you. And we love the fact that you don’t use CGI, and it’s old school, and you really appreciate your fan base. And I’m sure that I speak for a lot of people that we hope 2018 treats you amazing, treats Holliston amazing, and that you have continued luck on the Movie Crypt with you and Joe.
AG: Thank you. Thank you so much.