Ahead of Horror Channel’s UK TV premiere of Adam Green’s VICTOR CROWLEY, the great director shares his personal tragedies, George Romero’s inspirational words, the importance of genre comedy and hints that the Bayou Butcher may rise again…
Adam, you’re back on the UK’s Horror Channel with your latest ‘Hatchet’ instalment VICTOR CROWLEY. Excited?
I’m always thrilled to hear that another one of my films will be playing on the UK’s Horror Channel! It’s crazy to think that the US hasn’t had a horror specific television channel in 6 years now, only horror themed subscription platforms like SHUDDER. Then again- look at the real life horror we’re dealing with here as far as our current President goes. Clearly our country has made far worse decisions than doing away with our horror television network.
You’ve called VICTOR CROWLEY your most personal movie ever. Why?
I truly intended to be finished with HATCHET after the original trilogy. When HATCHET 3 was released in 2013 I had absolutely no desire to ever step foot back in Victor Crowley’s swamp ever again. However, life had other plans for me and in 2014 I underwent a series of personal tragedies that changed everything. Within a span of just thirteen days I endured a heart shattering divorce, the tragic death of Dave Brockie, one of my best friends and co-stars on my TV series HOLLISTON and the dissolving of HOLLISTON’s home network FEARnet, in a corporate merger which left my show trapped in television purgatory for six years. I’ll spare you the details of the dark year or so that followed but my health deteriorated down into a truly frightening state.
Then in October of 2015 George Romero asked if I would host his panel at a horror convention in my hometown of Boston, Masachusetts. There was no way I was going to say “no” to George. At the end of the panel he pointed out to me just how many in the crowd were wearing HATCHET or HOLLISTON or “Adam Green” T-shirts and then he turned me away from the crowd and gave me a short but extremely blunt pep talk about what my work means to “these kids” and that I have to get back on my feet and back to doing what I do best. The long story short is that George snapped me out of it and made me see the light, in particularly what HATCHET had come to mean to the genre.
However, if I was going to bring back Victor Crowley I only wanted to do it if it could be a surprise for the fans, we set out to make the film in secret. I still can’t believe we pulled it off! The end result was a much more personal and honest film than I ever would have had the courage to make otherwise. I worked out a lot of the pain I was going through during that dark point in my life. Several critics have called VICTOR CROWLEY “the best HATCHET film yet” but I am still far too close to the process of making the movie to be able to rank it against the other three films with any kind of clarity.
VC is more comical than ever, do ‘Hatchet’ fans expect that fun side of the franchise to be upped every single time?
HATCHET’s sense of humor is precisely what sets it apart from other slashers of its kind. The series may proudly wear all of the expected slasher movie tropes on its sleeves but it is the comedic tone of the films that make them a more entertaining experience overall than the slashers that came before it. Rarely were the 80’s slashers intentionally funny and as Kane Hodder always points out, with the sequels in the big franchises the audience merely tolerated the time they had to spend with the characters while they waited to see them die. If you look at the first three films as one long movie the humor actually gets toned down slightly with each entry as the story works its way to its action packed final act. So with VICTOR CROWLEY I got to hit the re-set button and really amp up the comical side of things once again.
This time around the film’s theme also holds a mirror up to an audience that has become shamefully numb to murder and obsessed with the next great true crime docu-series. Think about it, just twenty years ago major network sit-coms like FRIENDS and SEINFELD were “must see TV” not only in the US but around the world. Now it’s real life tragedies like MAKING A MURDERER, DON’T F*CK WITH CATS, and TIGER KING that have become our passionate water cooler conversations at the office and a major force in modern day pop culture. The sheer fact that more people are talking about Joe Exotic’s mullet than the mistreatment of the actual tigers in TIGER KING sickens me. I mean, our President’s own dim-witted son was asked what he thought of the Netflix phenomenon and his take away from the series was that he “didn’t realize a tiger was so affordable!” The characters in VICTOR CROWLEY are all looking to cash in on a massacre that left at least forty innocent people dead and they have absolutely no regard for the human lives lost. Sadly, that’s exactly what would happen if the events of HATCHET were real.
Many have called the film your ‘Scream 3’, do you agree with that assessment?
Any time someone mentions one of my films in the same breath as a Wes Craven film my heart grows another size bigger. I would agree with that assessment in that overall the HATCHET series is more akin to Craven’s SCREAM series than the 80’s slashers it is often compared to. When the first HATCHET came out nothing made me happier than hearing seasoned horror fans draw comparisons to AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON and FRIGHT NIGHT – the two films that influenced HATCHET the most. John Landis and Tom Holland had both taken tired sub-genres that had grown out of fashion and updated them by infusing comedy into their characters’ dialogue. With HATCHET I tried to take the same approach with the slasher sub-genre that they had taken with the werewolf and vampire sub-genres so it’s always a huge compliment to hear that others recognize it.
Kane Hodder as Victor Crowley
What did star Kane Hodder add to VC this time that you weren’t expecting?
Kane has always approached each film as if Victor Crowley is actually starting to enjoy killing the more that he does it. So after ten years at peace without ripping a single head from a body, I think that Victor Crowley revelled in the over the top kills more this time than ever before. For Kane personally, he had always thought that HATCHET 3 was the last time he was ever going to play Victor Crowley so when I told him I had written a fourth film that we were going to make in secret and then surprise the fans with on the 10th anniversary of the original film, I swear I saw tears of joy in his eyes. Of course, the tears were actually a mixture of gasoline and dead baby juice as we all know Kane Hodder doesn’t cry…
The inevitable question…can we expect the beast from the bayou to rise again?
Given the success of VICTOR CROWLEY it’s a safe bet that we’ll be seeing the Bayou Butcher paint the screen red again. One of the aspects of the original trilogy that I am most proud of is that the films fit together as one cohesive story, always starting on the very frame that the previous entry ended on. So just like how I had the original trilogy plotted out before we ever shot a frame of the first film, I had several films plotted out before I started shooting VICTOR CROWLEY as well. The biggest reason that the HATCHET series has remained so strong over the years is that the same key people have been involved with the making of each film. That is incredibly rare in this genre. We also don’t rush out sequels like they are being mass produced on a conveyor belt and my crew and I only come back to the series when we are all truly ready to do so. The secret to how we’ve been able to fall back in love with Victor Crowley all over again each time is that we’ve always put a few years of working on other projects in between making HATCHET sequels.
You’re a master at injecting the slasher genre with great killer comedy. And of course, humour runs through the veins of all your TV/Radio/Podcast ventures. Has humour always played a vital part of your creative life?
Yes, always. Comedy was where I originally started out and it is a major aspect of my story telling voice. I did stand-up comedy for a few years when I was first coming up, not because I ever had any interest in being a stand-up comic but because I knew that the experience would help me become a stronger comedy writer. While my films like FROZEN and SPIRAL may have had no room for humor in them given the tone of the stories being told, those are rare exceptions for me. Overall my goal is to always entertain my audience, not to punish them with ugly, mean spirited, or depraved stories. We have real life for that.
You’ve written, directed, produced, acted, been a musician, author, marketer…is there an ambition left still lying dormant?
I still believe there’s time for me to become a professional basketball player. All I need is another growth spurt and to develop some athletic ability.
How are you coping with the lockdown?
When the United States started going into lockdown, my first instinct was of course to want to try and help in some way. Unfortunately, I’m just a filmmaker, I’m not smart enough to assist our incredible doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel on the front lines. However, the one thing I could do was entertain and give folk somewhere to “go” every day for a few hours, so I put on “Adam Green’s CORONAPOCALYPSE Live Stream Series” where every single day I hosted live streams of my films, TV shows, and other projects for FREE on my ArieScope Pictures’ YouTube channel. I literally gave away every single thing I’ve made over the course of my twenty-two year career so far.
Starting with the very first stream (a live reading of my novel I SURVIVOR) various cast and crew members from my films started to turn up in the chat thread without me even having asked them to. Not only would they chat with fans and answer their questions during each day’s show but a few of us would even check in with fans throughout the night and at odd hours just to say hello and see how everyone was holding up. It’s very hard to explain to someone who wasn’t there taking part in it but the experience became something truly special that helped a lot of people (myself included) get through that first very difficult month. I didn’t know what to expect but by the end of the month the series had amassed over 50,000 views – and counting.
The whole experience is one that I will never forget as it brought out the “good” in so many people.
I must admit I’ve been slightly lost since the daily streams ended but, thankfully, I’ve been able to distract myself by working on finishing the new upcoming episode of my SCARY SLEEPOVER series, producing the weekly MOVIE CRYPT podcast I do with Joe Lynch, and writing-writing-writing since keeping busy is the only way I can stay sane during this awful time.
Finally, what’s in the pipeline for you? Is ‘Killer Pizza’ still on the menu?
I’d tell you but then I’d have to kill you. I have several exciting things coming and originally expected to be letting the cat out of the bag on at least two of the things I’ve been working on by the start of summer. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has put a stop to everything for now. For the moment my only job is praying for all of us.
VICTOR CROWLEY is broadcast on Friday 15 May @ 21:00