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Doctor Gash’s Tip of the Scalpel – Filmmaker Adam Green

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Horror fans love their icons. We watch our favorite movies repeatedly. We visit horror conventions to get up close and personal with the horror stars. We’ve worshiped the Romeros, Cravens, Hoopers and Carpenters and loved the Englunds, Moseleys, Todds and Hodders.

But in addition to them, we need new blood as well. Say hello to the next great one… Adam Green.

Doctor Gash's Tip of the Scalpel - Filmmaker Adam Green

We need that next wave of horror icons. We love our horror stars, but to have the genre live on and thrive as it has, we need new horror superstars. But that is not an easy torch to take. We’re used to Romero, Craven and Carpenter. We accept them and will go to see any film they put out. When a guy from Holliston, MA came out of the blue and threw his hat into the horror genre, we collectively said, “Who the hell is Adam Green?” Then he dropped Hatchet on us and we learned just who the hell Adam Green was very quickly. And because of his great success and continuously stellar work, we recognize Adam Green with a Doctor Gash Tip of the Scalpel.

Chad: Hey, man. Who’s Victor Crowley?
Layton: Well, he’s nothing. A local bogeyman story about a retarded maniac who haunts Honey Island. People just use it to keep kids away from the swamp.
Chad: You mean like a Jason Voorhees or something?
Layton: Something like that.
Chad: When I was eight, I lived in this town called Glen Echo. Our ghost story is about this man named Leslie Vernon…
Hatchet II

Parker O’Neil: Okay then, Lynch, what *is* the worst way to die?
Joe Lynch: What…
Parker O’Neil: No, no, no, you have an answer for everything. What is you biggest fear?
Joe Lynch: That’s easy. The Sarlacc Pit.
Parker O’Neil: I’m sorry, the what?
Joe Lynch: The Sarlacc Pit. From Return of the Jedi. Uh, hello. Being slowly digested over a 1000 years…worst death ever.
Dan Walker: [in a mocking whiny voice] Dan, why don’t I ever have a girlfriend? Why?
Frozen

Perhaps the most impressive thing about Green is the amazing diversity of his projects. From the pure slasher madness of the Hatchet franchise to psychologically thrilling films like Spiral and Frozen to slapstick comedy in The Diary of Anne Frankenstein segment in Chillerama to a traditional (well, maybe traditional isn’t the right word. Archie Bunker didn’t have Oderus in his closet) sitcom with “Holliston.” Adam Green is not only a great writer and director, but he can deliver so many different styles of horror making his body of work incredibly diverse and impressive.

I first became aware of Adam Green when a friend asked if I had seen the trailer for this upcoming film called Hatchet. As I hadn’t, he quickly called up the trailer online. This is what I saw:

We’re all gonna die indeed.

And in a brilliant stroke, being a horror fan himself, Green understood the genre fans’ affinity to their heroes and went out and got Robert Englund, Kane Hodder, Tony Todd and Joshua Leonard to appear in the film. The rest is history. Hatchet took the horror world by storm, Kane Hodder had yet another iconic character to add to his resume and Adam Green was on the map. Hatchet was everything horror fans had been looking for. It held back nothing. We had been looking for an R-rated hero and Green delivered Victor Crowley to us on a silver platter and he was, and continues to be, awesome.

Doctor Gash's Tip of the Scalpel - Filmmaker Adam Green

Green would follow up Hatchet by co-directing the psychological thriller Spiral with Joel David Moore and producing Grace through his production company, ArieScope Pictures, but it was his next film that really drove the point home for horror fans.

Frozen takes place on a chair lift high above Mount Holliston. Three unsuspecting people find themselves stranded on the lift on a Sunday night when the realization comes to them that the ski resort won’t be open again until Friday…a long time away. Too high to jump, too cold to stay, Frozen amazingly delivers a claustrophobic crush while being staged in the most open landscape possible. It has the same trapped feel as Cujo but it’s filmed on a wide open mountain. Green scored a huge victory in the eyes of horror fans with this film that was so incredibly different from, but just as entertaining as, Hatchet.

Doctor Gash's Tip of the Scalpel - Filmmaker Adam Green

Of course Hatchet II was an absolute necessity and it wasn’t long before Green unleashed Victor Crowley again. This time he brought in the lovely Danielle Harris (as well as a slew of genre favorites as bounty hunters) and took on the MPAA head-to-head. Confronted with a laundry list of cuts he would have to make in order to get an R-rating, Green took Hatchet II to AMC Theaters and struck a deal to have it released in mainstream movie houses with an almost unprecedented ‘UNRATED’ listing. It had been decades since a genre film ran mainstream as an unrated feature, but Green managed to pull it off. However, the film was yanked after the first weekend due to ‘poor sales.’ This seemed strange because another horror film, Chain Letter, opened the same weekend as Hatchet II and did 1/3 of the business but still stayed around for two weeks. This was certainly a case of the MPAA striking back at Green for going around their iron fist. Hatchet II would go on to be a huge success on DVD, which allowed for Hatchet III to be greenlit and headed our way soon. And big respect went out to Green, who refused to let his film be bullied into a watered down version of his vision.

And, of course, we must talk about Green’s newest and longest marinating project, “Holliston.” A new adaptation of Green’s original film, Coffee & Dounts, “Holliston” was picked up by FEARnet as their first piece of original programming. Shot in the classic sitcom style, “Holliston” is a love letter to horror fans. It’s incredibly funny and charming and bloody and disturbing all at once. Green gets to act with his best friend (fellow horror director Joe Lynch) and his boyhood hero (Dee Snider). Does it get any better than that? He’s surrounded by a stellar cast that plays off each other like they’ve been doing this for a lifetime. And, just as he did with Hatchet, Green taps into the horror fans’ love of their genre and brings in an army of horror-related guest stars into “Holliston” like Bill Moseley, Derek Mears, Ray Wise and John Landis. It is perhaps the funniest horror-themed project I’ve ever seen.

Doctor Gash's Tip of the Scalpel - Filmmaker Adam Green

We need to keep the life-blood of horror flowing and Adam Green is a perfect candidate to take the torch from the Cravens, Carpenters and Hoopers of the world. His work is diverse, horrific or hilarious; Green knows how to entertain his audience. And that’s because he knows his audience…because he was his audience. Green is making movies for people just like him and that is why we love him. He understands the genre, he understands the fans of the genre and he brings his best every time. And it’s for this reason that we give a big tip of the Doctor Gash scalpel to the great Adam Green. Market Basket.

Doctor Gash's Tip of the Scalpel - Filmmaker Adam Green

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  • Terminal

    I respect Green, I respect his love for the genre, I just don’t like the Hatchet movies. Even though I respect Hatchet 2 for changing the game, I find the Hatchet movies almost unwatchable.

    Which is a shame, because I thought Spiral was stellar, and Frozen to be absolutely excellent. I love Frozen to death.

    It feels like he’s kind of relegating himself to lower projects to keep with the fandom. He could grow, but I don’t think Hatchet and Holliston are going to help him advance.

    • nazo

      I think that’s one of the dark sides of the internet, and 21st century media in general. Because it’s become so easy for filmmakers to find a niche audience, it becomes possible for a lot of cool projects to be made, but it also creates an echo chamber in which creative growth does not occur because the cycle of criticism, failure, and artistic change doesn’t happen. Instead, you get talented filmmakers making completely self-indulgent movies like The Innkeepers instead of advancing artistically.

      That being said, of Adam Green’s work, I’ve watched Spiral, Frozen, and The Diary of Anne Frankenstein, and all three were very good, so this comment isn’t meant to be a criticism of him personally.

      • Terminal

        I loved the Innkeepers. When Ti West isn’t doing below his level crap like The Roost and Cabin Fever 2, he’s pretty much found his formula of slow boil horror movies. House of the Devil was wonderful, and I thought The Innkeepers had an excellent explosive climax that worked wonderful as a twist ending.

        At least West found his formula. Green has yet to really pinpoint what makes his movies unique. I’ve seen too many slapstick gory slashers for Hatchet to be considered unique or original.

        • nazo

          I really liked House of the Devil as well. The Innkeepers was too slow for me, and the less said about his V/H/S/ short, the better.. I didn’t think The Innkeepers showed any growth from a storytelling/narrative perspective, and it seems West learned that all he needed to make a successful movie was 90 minutes (or 20, as in V/H/S) of inconclusive atmosphere followed by a twist. I think we’ll have to agree to disagree there.

          • AngryChairr

            I don’t see how there was any twist to the ending of The Innkeepers. The movie could be seen as a ghost story told from the perspective of a skeptic, or alternately, the dangers of an overactive imagination. Everything was pretty straight forward. My only real criticism of the ending is that I was miffed West didn’t come down harder on the psychic for inflating the girl’s imagination.

            As for the article posted, I don’t think Adam Green is the next “great” horror director. None of his movies stand out as anything more than just okay, except the Hatchet movies, which are all awful (sorry). The problem horror fans have is that they want so bad for one of their own to be the next John Carpenter, because it will feel like an accomplishment for the entire community. But the directors that usually end up “Masters of Horror” are guys who, while respecting the genre and its form, aren’t enthralled with it like we are. Carpenter, Romero, and Craven all desperately tried to escape the genre because they saw it as a death-knell to be taken seriously as a director. They all eventually came back because it was what they’re good at, but also because they couldn’t get regular work outside the genre. I think you need that outsider perspective to be successful in working with horror.

            Fanboys like Green and Eli Roth and Bousman and whoever are looking at the genre in terms of what horror fans want, not what will be exceptional and different. One of the reasons I like some of Ti West’s work is because he seemed to be intentionally shirking audience expectation in House of the Devil and Innkeepers, but he’s made his fanboy mistakes too with The Roost and Cabin Fever 2. I’m thinking the next person to make a truly exceptional horror film will probably be someone the horror community will hate. Not Michael Bay obviously, but someone who “doesn’t follow the rules” and frustrates fans. Kind of like how Kubrick pissed off Stephen King and a bunch of King fans with his reworking of The Shining, only to end up taking King’s work and making it better.

            Sorry. Long rant, but something that’s been bothering me for a while.

          • nazo

            I think art often only progresses through dissatisfaction with the status quo, which is to say I mostly agree with you. The most recent horror movie I would call “truly exceptional” was Let The Right One In, which was made by an outsider to the genre.

          • Terminal

            The Innkeepers surprise ending was brilliant. It was an indictment on the terrible results intense fandom can wreak on someone with an big imagination. The notion that the ghost in the basement wasn’t actually what she appeared was fantastic.

  • kiddcapone

    I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again quickly, Adam Green disappoints me. He has a chance to do what everyone would love to do yet he’s wasting time on these corny Hatchet movies. It’s nothing more than a fanboy trying to squeeze everything he likes about horror into one movie, regardless if it works or not. On a very basic stripped down level, Hatchet SHOULD be fun, but it’s not. It’s an R rated 80 minute Horror themed Looney Toons episode. Victor Crowley could sneeze off someone’s head and then strap it onto an ACME rocket and blast it into space and it would still work within the films universe. It’s just silliness. The characters are just nameless space fillers waiting to die in some cartoonish manner and Crowley looks like some makeup contestant that would get voted off the show Face Off in round 1.

Scott Hallam

We all go a little mad sometimes...haven't you?