The following is a transcript of a Q&A attended by Adam Green following a riotously successful screening of his film, Hatchet, at Montreal’s Fantasia film festival.
Q: Was the story of Victor Crowley an original, or a composite of different swamp legends?
Adam Green: This is one of the better stories in the making of Hatchet.
When I was eight years old, my parents sent me to this summer camp called Camp Oboda. It sucked balls. They made us do labor the whole time; I was cleaning toilets and stuff. I found out that year that oboda means work in Hebrew. So my Mom sent me to camp fucking work! When I was there the counselor said, “stay away from this particular cabin or Hatchet Face will get you!” My mother had already been showing me Friday the 13th, Halloween, all that shit, so I loved it and was all like “What’s he gonna do?” The counselor was like “He’s gonna get you”, but I was like “Yaaaa, but why’s he called Hatchet Face.” But that’s all they had to their story because that’s where the counsellors did their drugs and had their orgies and molested children. That night in the cabin with the other kids I came up with that exact story (the story of Victor Crowley and Hatchet) on the spot, and all the kids started crying. The next morning the counselor called my parents and they sent me home from camp. I waited 20 years to get to tell this story.
The New Orleans part factored in because I was at my friend Ben’s bachelor party in New Orleans and Ben and his friends wanted to watch a basketball game. I didn’t care much about basketball and so went looking for something else to do. I saw this sign for a haunted swamp tour, and they said they didn’t do them anymore because of what happened. The eight year old in me is all “WHAT happened?” It was because their insurance got to high. So that’s where the story came from.
Q: What’s getting cut?
The two things that I needed to keep was the face getting ripped in half, and the belt sander thing. Those are the two hardest effects to pull off. That face being ripped in half is one take, there’s no CGI in this movie, it’s all done by artists. I basically went after everything else, because you have to make compromises. The girl being pushed down the shovel handle is out, Victor swinging Marcus against the mausoleum and splitting his head open is out. Everything else is just shortened. When Mr. Permatteo gets chopped and quartered, he used to get hit thirteen times, now he gets hit three times. What they basically accomplished is that they made the film scary. As much as it’s jumps and scares, it’s fun. We took the gore to the point of ridiculousness because that’s what makes people laugh and clap and enjoy themselves. Now they made it very serious. If you hit somebody once with a hatchet you can believe that, but not if it’s thirteen fucking times.
Q: Do you have any other stories about the making of Hatchet? (seriously, somebody actually asked this…)
AG: This is the best story in the Adam Green collection!
Around the same time I went to summer camp my grandmother asks me what I want for my birthday, and I said “Battle armour He-Man.” She said, “No, I’m gonna give you a boom-box and a cassette tape because you should start listening to music.” She asked me what band band I wanted, and I looked up at the TV, and there on the TV was the video for “We’re Not Gonna Take It.” She says “No, not them”, and I say “Yes, them.” So she buys me this Twisted Sister tape, and I listened to it until it wouldn’t play anymore, and it finally broke, and I buried it in the backyard.
In fourth grade we had to do a report about the most influential person in our life. Everyone got up and did it about their Mom and their Dad, and I get up there as Dee fucking Snider with the makeup and the bone, and the teacher says “Sit down, you’re trying to be funny”, and I said “Let me finish, this is a guy who married his high school girlfriend, he’s a good father, he doesn’t sing about drugs and drinking and sex, he sings about self empowerment and about how you can do anything you want no matter what anybody says to you, and because of this message, someday, I’m going to go to Hollywood and I’m gonna make movies.” I got my first, and last, A+.
So, college comes around, and Tipper Gore has broken up Twisted Sister because they’re “satanic.” But I hear that Dee Snider’s new band called Widowmaker is playing, for five dollars. So I drive for three hours to this concert, and I hand write this letter to him, thanking him for the positive influence he’s had on my life, and how someday I’m going to make movies. I flop up against the front door five hours before the concert starts, and in the reflection of the glass, I see a mop of blond hair walking behind me. I turn around, and it’s Dee Snider. I’m blurt out “I’ve been waiting my whole life to meet you”, and I’m crying, and I’m twenty-one years old at this point, so he’s kinda freaked out and says “I’ll read your letter”, signs my ticket stub, “I still want to rock”, and leaves. He comes out to play the concert, and it’s like he’s just playing for me, high fives and pointing at me and stuff. He says, “We don’t play Twisted Sister songs anymore, but for you…” and he points to me, and he sings the three songs that I quoted in the letter. At the time I was singing in my band called Haddonfield, and he brings me up on stage, and I sing “I Want To Rock” with him.
At the end of the concert he says “I’ve been doing this for twenty years, and finally somebody saw through the makeup and bullshit and heard what I was trying to say. Good luck with your movies, thank you for the letter”, and he dedicates the last song to me. I’m thinking, it’s not gonna get any cooler than this.
Shortly after, my Mom calls me up and says you got a letter in the mail, I think you might want me to open it, it’s from Dee Snider. The letter says, (pretending like I don’t have it memorized), “I touched your life, now you touched mine. Thank you for everything you did. Keep making your movies, someday I’m going to see you on the red carpet at a Hollywood premier.” I framed it, I signed it, I put it over my computer, this is going to be my inspiration, I’m not going to take it.
So, I got this job writing shitty cable commercials. The reason why I took the job is because I was really poor. My parents worked five jobs, I had no money, I had no connections. I could steal their equipment and make my own movies at night. I made Columbus Day Weekend, and I got an e-mail from this guy who worked in the mail department of this major talent agency. He writes “I went to high school with you I think, and I just walked by this office, and all the agents were laughing at Michael Myers and Jason hugging and kissing. Do you have a feature?” I write back “What’s a feature?”, and he replies “That, but longer”, and I’m like “How much longer can they be gay for?” So I flew out to LA with all my copies of Columbus Day Weekend and nobody talked to me. I saved up forever to go to LA, and I’m standing outside Tower Records, and I’m thinking “I’m never coming back here, fuck this place!” I look up, and there’s a sign that says “Tonight at 7pm at Tower Records, Dee Snider”.
I cut the line, and the staff tells me “To meet Dee you need to buy the Strangeland DVD.” It’s four years from the time I have enough money to afford a DVD player! I get up in front of him, I hand him the DVD, and I say “My name’s Adam Green”, and he’s says “What are you doing in LA?” and I tell him that I went to the agency, and nobody would talk to me, and he says “Well, you know what you’re gonna do, you’re gonna go home and make a feature.” So, I made a feature film for $400 called Coffee and Donuts. Halfway through making it, I got caught by my boss. He said if I steal the equipment again, he’s going to prosecute. That night, I get some free tickets to see Poison. I’m walking past the backstage area, and all these kids are yelling “Dee!”, and there’s Dee Snider. He pulls me over and says “How’s your movie coming?”, and I tell him, “Not very good, I got caught stealing equipment, I suck.” He says, “Well, you know what you’re gonna do, you’re gonna keep stealing that equipment, you’re gonna tell your boss to go fuck himself, and you’re heading back to LA.”
I finish Coffee and Donuts, it wins best picture in a film festival, Disney buys it to turn it into a sitcom, and I arrive in Hollywood. While I’m waiting to get my notes back on Coffee and Donuts, this is five years later, I can’t sleep, and I write Hatchet in three days. My agent tells me this will never get made. So, we get John Buechler and Kane Hodder together and we make a mock trailer, and two years later we’re there in the swamp filming it.
After the movie was done, my talent agency wouldn’t even send it out anywhere, they said it will never get into a film festival. Two weeks later, the New York Times, the LA Times and Variety, say that the biggest hit of the Tribeca film festival is going to be Hatchet. So, I fly to Tribeca, and I email Dee Snider, telling him “I made a movie, it got into Tribeca, I’m having my first premier, thanks for everything.” Just before the premier, I’m hiding in a pizza place across from the red carpet throwing up, and my cell phone rings, and it’s Dee Snider. He says “Where are you?”, and I tell him “I’m in New York at the Tribeca film festival.” He says “No, WHERE are you? Look outside.” A grey limo pulls up in front of the Hatchet premier, and Dee gets out with his whole family, and walks me down the red carpet of my first premiere.
So that should tell you how much I love this film, and how much went into making it. What you’re seeing isn’t just a horror movie, it’s an eight-year old kid, with no money, and nothing but a Twisted Sister tape making his dreams come true. If I can do it, so can you…
Now if that’s not inspirational, I don’t know what is! Thank you, Dee Snider, for encouraging Green to make such an awesome, kickass homage to the films we all grew up loving.