Hatchet franchise director Adam Green and star Kane Hodder sat down with Dread Central recently to discuss the challenges of keeping Victor Crowley (review) a secret; constantly upping the creative, outrageous kills in the films; and how this installment in the series is a divorce film for Green.
Will Victor Crowley make it out of the Honey Island Swamp in this film or the next? What makes this film different from the previous Hatchet films? Do alligators eat Skittles, and do some people still live in pre-Civil War times? Read on and find out in this candid interview with Green and Hodder!
Izzy Lee: How relieved were you to let the secret that you filmed a fourth Hatchet film out? I imagine keeping the secret was stressful.
Adam Green: It was incredibly nerve-wracking. Not only do you have 100 people on your crew you’ve gotta trust, but there’s SAG and the unions — all the people you have to tell the real name of the film. You never know. At a payroll company, an assistant tweeted that they confirmed that there was another Hatchet movie being made because they worked there. We had to work hard to shut it down really fast. From the moment I said what we were really going to show, I was waiting for somebody to spoil it.
Kane Hodder: To echo what he’s saying, to the actors in the movie, there’s more of a reason to keep it a secret. It’s cooler for us when it comes out. For the crew to also do that, I was amazed that nobody appeared to blab. It was 11 months from the time we finished shooting to the time he announced it at that screening where we broke the news. 11 months of doing conventions and appearances and people asking me if there was going to be another Hatchet movie. I’d say, “I hope so!” Meanwhile I just killed a bunch of motherfuckers on film.
IL: Victor Crowley is often mentioned is the same breath as figures like Jason and Freddy. How do you feel about that?
AG: It’s still hard to believe that, and as a fan of those icons, I take offense when somebody says that. But at this point with the comics and Halloween masks, it feels a little safer to accept that Victor Crowley is in a new set of icons, but still not on par with Michael Myers, Freddy, Leatherface, or Jason. At the same time, there’s not many new characters like that I can think of. There’s Jigsaw, but he’s not an unstoppable killer or slasher. I wanted Leslie Vernon to become one, and I still hope that will happen someday, but yeah, it’s surreal. There’s a whole crop of kids who grew up on these movies; whereas, I grew up on Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th. How do you [Kane] feel about that?
KH: Basically the same. It somehow doesn’t quite feel the same as those characters, but I’m not sure why. It just happens to be later in the timeframe than those guys.
AG: Those were studio releases, too. This was a cult movie that the fans turned into what it is, which makes it more special in a way. It’d be nice to have a studio budget and marketing, though!
KH: If you could consider more of a newer version of Freddy and Jason, that’s definitely Victor. The fans feel that, but those of us that participated in the films feel a little differently. I love the character. What I don’t talk about too much is that when we did the first movie, no one knew there’d be another one. You hope of course, and he had confidence in not giving up the whole story yet. How often does someone not tell the whole story in the first movie and share it gradually? Most people throw everything into the first movie; then there’s a sequel.
IL: The first three movies take place over one weekend; it made it amazing for the fans that the second movie picked up when the first one ended, and that there’s more story. People were like, “Why the fuck is Tony Todd in the first movie; he’s barely in it!” Well, you’ll find out when we do subsequent movies. Adam had the confidence to hold back so he could tell more story, and now a lot of people are saying that this new film is their favorite.
AG: The tradition continues with this one, too. There’s a hidden scene in the credits. The only difference is that the world has changed. The only difference is that now everything is streaming and torrenting; we might not get to make another film. So far, we’re on track to be a big success. We were number three on Amazon not long ago, ahead of Jigsaw, Get Out, and Happy Death Day. The only thing ahead of us was It in 4K and 2K in the first two spots, so really, we were number two. Those movies were all studio movies with huge marketing.
One thing that helps, I think, is that I always wait a few years between movies, so I’m really excited to do it, and the same people come back every time. That’s made a big difference.
IL: Are there any plans to take Victor Crowley’s character out of the swamp?
AG: Yes. I can’t say much, but what’s been really fun with touring is that fans always come up and have their own theories. A lot of people pick up that in which way I bring Crowley back to life — the rules keep changing. In this one, we’re still in the swamp, but things take place mostly in an airplane. I don’t want to keep making the same movie. And now… I can’t spoil it, this sucks! I think people will enjoy where it goes.
IL: Tell us about constantly upping the ante in terms of the outrageousness of the kills. Is that difficult or really fun?
AG: It’s always fun; I can come up with ways to kill people until I die, I think. I get such a kick out of doing it. It’s almost now become a way of messing with each other. I know how I want to shot it, but that we won’t have enough money. It’s fun to watch the makeup people freak out, because it’s always the same: it’s “We quit.” Then “Can there be some CG?” No. Then it’s “We quit” again and a lot of crying, then “Holy shit, look what we did!” And they always deliver, but I don’t know how they do it, and I’m always amazed. It’s so important to keep the effects practical, because that’s what people love about it. We only use CG when we need to fix something, like a boom or wire in the shot. Although in the third film, there might be two shots where there’s a little CG blood, somehow, I don’t know.
KH: Well, if it got past you, the fans would never guess. I did four Friday the 13th movies, and every script I’d get, I almost always had to add my own flavor to the kills to make them more graphic or interesting. In the first Hatchet movie I couldn’t do that! He is so fucked up, that he comes up with stuff that I’d come up with, and no one is ever that bad — “I don’t have to do shit with this kill, it’s perfectly written!” Before that, that was unheard of for me.
IL: Can Andrew, Parry Shen’s character, be considered Crowley’s “Ahab” of sorts?
AG: Parry Shen is the real final girl of this series. Something that’s bothered me that people had said is that the cast is so progressive and diverse, but it’s been that way since the get-go. Laura Ortiz is my sister and best friend, basically; I put her in everything. She was already introduced, and these people are just my friends. I didn’t go out to force things. Rather than saying “good job,” writers should write diverse casts and create roles that aren’t always white men and women. That’s when true change happens. But I don’t like getting credit for that, because that demeans it.
KH: I agree with that. It doesn’t matter what race someone is — I still want to kill them.
AG: What about the fact that Victor Crowley is half-black? So few people comment on that. Some sites did stories on that. What other black horror icons do we have other than Candyman? I think you’d have to go way back to Blackula and Blackenstein.
KH: That stuff was almost tongue-in-cheek, though. But that’s a good point; I don’t even think about it anymore.
AG: His mother is black. I thought that’d be more of a talking point, but I don’t know if people just didn’t notice.
KH: Which maybe it’s good that people didn’t make a big deal out of it, but it’s still surprising. In the second one, you see that I play Victor’s dad consummating with Victor’s mom, who’s black. That’s how we know he’s half-black.
AG: That was your first love scene.
KH: My first sex scene. But he also had me dance, such as it is. Some comedy, some crying, so many different things I’ve done on film for Adam, I never thought I’d do.
IL: Is that what surprised you the most about making these films, these firsts?
KH: It’s certainly a welcome addition to have someone say, “I also want you to do this. You can do it.”
AG: For me, what’s been surprising is watching the fans carry the films onward and upward. You want to throw in the towel. Anchor Bay put out the first one and it was a theatrical title. Even though we were on 100 screens with the first film, there was no marketing, no one knew it was out, so what’s the point? We thought it was over. But the fans have found it and made it bigger and bigger, which is a huge compliment. Most movies do what they’re going to do in the first week or two, and that’s it. It’s been incredible to watch what’s happened. The fact that so many people say that this film is their favorite one — this is the fourth film, and that’s amazing.
KH: What’s your opinion on why people think that, is it storyline or characters?
AG: Everything is heightened, including the comedy. In the first one, people weren’t expecting it. It caught some people off-guard. Two and three were progressively less fun. This is the one, though, that has some really scary moments of true dread. Maybe because we’ve all grown and I’ve had something to say. This is far and away my divorce movie. I wasn’t aware when I wrote it, but people came up to me like, “Are you fucking kidding me? A couple gets engaged and you cut off the fingers with the rings on it.” I argued, “But that could mean anything!” No, it doesn’t, that’s one thing!
But I always to put my real life in my characters to some degree, even in my band. I love shitting on myself. I know that can be frustrating to some critics, because you beat them to the punch a little bit. There’s nothing bad anyone can say about me that I’m not going to say first.
KH: What I like about this one is the coverage he gives facially. There are lots of good, longer close-ups than I’m used to.
AG: The makeup was on point this time. Your nuances came through; everything you did read.
KH: I try to be objective, but you seem to get more of a view into Victor’s mind. My favorite scene is someone’s on the ground, I’m looking at other people and almost taunting them, Laura in particular. I’ve got a foot over someone’s face, she’s like, “You better not do it,” and sure enough, I do. It makes Victor seem more human, a weird term for him, but he is.
AG: He’s way more angry in this movie. In the other ones, he’s a repeating ghost. He doesn’t understand he’s dead and keeps coming back, and he’s trying to find his father. Now the rules have changed with the way he’s come back and there’s a rage to it that seems way scarier. It makes him seem bigger. We shot it in such a way for that, but when we were shooting it when he’s attacking the plane, I was kind of scared.
KH: I really enjoy Victor in this one. In the first movie, I approached the character in a way that I tried to make him more jittery and scared. He was going to kill people, but he wasn’t used to doing it. By this movie, he’s used to it and it’s not the same. There’s a big difference in the way I approached it.
IL: Is there a big reason that Victor is angrier this time around?
AG: Yeah, now he knows that his father is dead. He didn’t know that before. Plus, he was finally at peace and got brought back, so he’s extra-pissed off. Without spoiling anything for the next one, he’s not going to be stuck in a situation — he’s going to go looking for certain people, which is how I get him out of the swamp. It’s going to turn into more of a ghost story, with this thing staring at you from outside your window at night; that’s terrifying.
The setup with Hatchet is just don’t go to that swamp, which is difficult to get to in the first place. If you stay away, nothing’s going to happen to you, but now —
KH: And if you do go there, you fucking deserve it!
AG: We took 50 fans on a haunted swamp tour on Halloween this year. There was a screening in New Orleans and we got on the actual Scare Bus like in the movie, and we took the fans to the swamp at night. We’ve been out there at night shooting, but no one else gets to see that. They don’t do nighttime swamp tours for a reason — it’s dangerous. So we’re out there, and it’s dead silent and alligators are coming up to the boats. We’re on the microphones telling stories about the making of the films. A lot of fans want that to become an annual thing, and maybe it will, but probably not Halloween every year though, that’s my Christmas.
KH: We discussed the possibility of maybe catching a glimpse of Victor while we were on the boat. It might have been interesting, but it was logistically too hard to do.
AG: It’s too dangerous — you can’t put an actor out there waiting among gators.
KH: Especially when the bus got lost.
AG: Yeah, the swamp witch came out of the woods. She had all these Trump/Pence flags on her house. She was nice at first, but then she saw our driver, Austin, who didn’t look like her, and then yelled at us to get out.
KH: Wait a minute, I didn’t see all that!
AG: Oh, you were in the back of the bus! Yeah, she saw him and yelled at us to turn around and go!
KH: Oh my God, I never knew that!
AG: It was so embarrassing. Austin was outside behind the bus, and she appeared in the shadows and I wanted to go, “Don’t turn around; she’s right behind you!” We thought she was gonna have a gun. There are still places in this country that didn’t know the Civil War happened.
KH: Here I was going to ask about alligators coming up to you, but that’s far scarier!
AG: That happened on the third film! An alligator kept coming up to the craft service table and eating the Skittles. I still don’t understand it. The alligator wanted to “Taste the Rainbow” I guess!
IL: What would you say to filmmakers struggling to get a project off the ground?
KH: Don’t do it.
AG: It’s a different time than when we started. We had a script, schedule, storyboards, imagery, and a whole proposal package that showed what could happen if the film became a franchise and what the worst-case scenario was, if the movie was absolute dog shit and did nothing. The thing that pushed it over the top was the trailer — the camera moving over the top of the swamp with a little girl talking about Victor Crowley.
We put it online and all the horror sites started carrying it, even though no one knew me from a whole in the wall, or if the movie even existed. But everyone started talking about Victor Crowley. Then of course, you get people on the message boards saying that they already saw it and that it was the worst movie ever! We finished meetings with potential investors by saying, “when you get home tonight, before you read the script, just Google Victor Crowley and Hatchet. I think it made investors feel a little safer knowing it was already a thing.
Even now in New Orleans, there are people saying that this is all based on a true story, and Victor Crowley is real, which I love. It’s hilarious! Nowadays, I don’t think that would ever work, but I should never say never. I don’t think we were the first to get something financed off of a trailer, but I think times have changed and budgets are so small. Everything is such a risk. If you’re a first-time filmmaker and you’re trying to get a million dollars off somebody, how are you going to make it back? Everything is streaming and entertainment has lost its value to its own audience.
I think I’m in a very rare, lucky position where I can tour the film like I’m in a band, going from city to city. I can use social media as advertisement, but what do you do if it’s your first film? And if everyone pirates your film or only streams it, you don’t get to make another one.
If you’re going to do it, find a concept you can make on a low budget and know what tricks you have up your sleeve and what favors you can call upon. Keep the budget as low as you can for the first film, because if it at least makes its budget back, you can get a shot at a second film. If it loses money, that could be it for you.
IL: Is there anything else you’d like to discuss – or would like fans to know?
AG: One of the things I was so impressed with every night of the tour, was that I’d say, “Don’t spoil the movie. If you’re going to review it online, say you love it or hate it, but a good review doesn’t say ‘this happens, then this happens, and then this happens.’ First of all, learn to write if you’re going to review stuff, but make sure you wait through the end credits and try to refrain from posting headlines that spoil surprises.”
I know people are going to want to discuss it, but just don’t ruin it for everyone. The fact that it got this far, I can’t complain though!
KH: I’m not finished with this character in my mind.
AG: Or mine.
Victor Crowley was directed by Adam Green and stars Kane Hodder, Parry Shen, Brian Quinn, Laura Ortiz, and David Sheridan. It is available now on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD.
Ten years ago, forty-nine people were brutally torn to pieces in Louisiana’s Honey Island Swamp. Over the past decade, lone survivor Andrew Yong’s claims that local legend Victor Crowley was responsible for the horrific massacre have been met with great controversy, but when a twist of fate puts him back at the scene of the tragedy, Crowley is mistakenly resurrected and Yong must face the bloodthirsty ghost from his past.
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