I recently had the chance to interview Adam Green (Hatchet franchise and Frozen) for his recent film Chillerama. You can check out my review HERE and read the interview below:
Can you give me a little insight into what went into coming up with the concept for CHILLERAMA?
The concept really came about way back when Adam Rinkin and Tim Sullivan were working on DETROIT ROCK CITY some 12 or 13 years ago. They were talking about doing some sort of anthology that it was kind of like the live action version of “Famous Monsters”. But then everyone got busy with other stuff until about 2 or 3 years ago. They approached me and Joe Wince with the idea. Working in this genre, there’s someone every 5 minutes contacting you saying they want to make an anthology, but what was really interesting about this one is that each segment was going to be in a different time period. And that noir, you don’t really see often, if at all, in this genre. When they started saying what they’re vision for it they started saying all these titles and they said “The Diary of Anne Frankenstein” which that phrase is a joke that has been around since the 1950s. I’d heard it before but nobody has ever tried to make a movie out of it. They were like “Oh, you should do that one because you’re Jewish.” My response was like, “Well, F*ck you Rifkin, you do that one.” “no, you’ll be able to get away with it.” But as soon as I came up with the idea of doing a black and white German movie, and casting Joel David Moore as Hitler and not teaching him any German, I felt like I could get away with such an offensive title because it’s really just 20 minutes of making fun of Hitler. The whole tone of it is in the vein of a Mel Brooks thing - there’s no Holocaust jokes.
I love that this film made people think a little. I also thought the use black and white was unique. How did you come up with the idea to do it in black and white? Did doing it in black and white present a challenge for you?
It’s very different! The whole concept was that we’d have a 30s, 40s, 50s, etc movie so I knew it was going to be in black and white from the get go. Shooting in B/W wasn’t really hard, it’s just that certain things are done different. If you look at the behind-the-scenes and see what Machugina actually looked like, you’ll see he’s actually green and blue. When you turn it in black and white you see the different shades. All the blood was actually chocolate syrup, which was actually really enjoyable for everyone on the set. Normally it’s sticky, gross syrup but who doesn’t want to get sprayed down with chocolate? Also, it wasn’t a gorey piece since it was supposed to feel like it was made back then. So everything was sort of staged and shot like a play. It was hard to not go in all the time for close ups, but they didn’t really do that back then. We did go in for a few close ups since we wanted to make it enjoyable for a modern audience - if the whole thing had been in wide shot I don’t know if a modern audience would have been able to stick with it. Add in the fact that it’s subtitled as if it were really a foreign film and I was shocked because I thought there would have been more people who didn’t like it simply because they had to read! Which is sad to say, but it is associated with the genre’s fanbase - it’ll frustrate them. So far there’s only been one review, which was hilarious, where the guy’s complaint was that he had to read the movie and stop the movie 3 times to catch up. It was a hilarious commentary on the fans, basically saying “how dare you make me think!” And you know, with HATCHET, they were mad that I made them laugh: “I f*cking hate laughing!”
This took my back to the movie BAD TASTE by Peter Jackson - I loved it! HATCHET made me think of it because it was over the top and awesome.
That’s what makes it fun and entertaining! If you sit a character down and tie them up and drive a screwdriver through their foot - it’s very realistic and uncomfortable, but that’s not why I got in to this business. I got in to this stuff for the entertainment. It’s funny that the HATCHET films got yanked from theaters and in this fight with the MPAA because it’s this innocent, silly movie. But that’s the one they single out and ban it from theaters - just shows how out of touch they are. We live in an age where are so many movies that are like torture porn, so mean spirited with women getting raped and then a swamp monster is where they draw the line? But there’s a lot of filmmakers my age - it’s always very cyclical where people sort of emulate what came before them and what they grew up on, and I do hope that we’re in for another period of entertaining horror. It doesn’t have to be funny, it just doesn’t have to be so meanspirited.
You’re writing a screenplay for KILLER PIZZA?
Yes! I’m locked up in a hotel room in Texas right now working on it actually.
I’ve never read the source material, but when I heard the concept it reminded me of THE MONSTER SQUAD.
It’s very much like that. I’ve done quite a few studio writing assignments at this point, but I’ve been really lucky that my independent movies have been so successful that I can kind of operate on my own and have my own company and keep doing what I want to do. But every now and then, there’s a studio assignment out there that is something I would actually want to do and when I got this book on my desk, it was an instant love affair. It was exactly the type of stuff I grew up liking. It was about a year ago that I wrote the very first draft of it and only 2 weeks that MGM picked it up to make it, so they’re going to have their notes and changes. It’s a long process, but it’s a very fun one. It’s just so much better to get the chance to do something like this instead of what is normally out there at the studio level which are these heartless, cash-in remakes. You take the job because it’s going to get 1,000 screens and millions in a marketing campaign, but at the end of the day would you even watch this film? I’m not anti-remake, some of my favorite movies are remakes but it’s very disheartening when that’s 90% of what the studios make. The problem isn’t even necessarily the studios, it’s the audience. They’ll go see every remake and they’ll go multiple times and then complain about it online. The good thing is we’re running out of remakes - they’re really scrapping the bottom of the barrel now! So I think a couple more years, they’ll start to make new movies again and it’ll be great.
And you’re at the forefront of that. You’ve done a lot of original films and short films - do prefer feature length projects or a shorter film like in CHILLERAMA?
I actually prefer short films, if I could make a career out it I would! I’ve made something like 50 short films in my career and when I’m making features I still make shorts because it’s the ultimate fun thing. Like the Halloween shorts I do every year, the whole rule is we give ourselves one night and no money and just do whatever we come up with. Sometimes they’re really good, sometimes it’s just ok but a few of them get like 2 million views. Sometimes you hit and it all came from a place of fun. You didn’t cater to anybody or try to hit anything in particular, it all came from a place of fun. I always encourage filmmakers to make short films. There’s this sort of feeling towards them of “what’s the point? I can’t make money of them.” but that’s really not the point. You can show off what you do and what you want to do, so when you do have a project that you’re up for you can show them your shorts to show your voice, your tone, and I loved that. And that’s part of why I loved CHILLERAMA, It was kind of like making a Halloween short with a bit of a budget. It took 4 days to shoot and it was one of the best times I’ve ever had.
It looked like you guys had a lot of fun! How did John David Role when you offered him the role of Hitler?
We’ve worked together so many times now that he sort of said yes before I even told him all the details. He knows it’ll be a good time. With this in particular, at the time he was married to an Israeli Jew and he kept saying, “Man, I wonder what her family is going to think about this one?” But we showed this in Germany, to a bunch of Jewish people, and the fact that the whole thing is making fun of Hitler there’s no way you can’t laugh at it.
I know you’re writing KILLER PIZZA, but is it going to get produced/directed by Columbus? Would you direct that if you had the opportunity to? Is it the kind of movie you would direct?
Absolutely! If I was going to do a studio movie, this is the type of studio movie I would really like to do. It’s been talked about, but at this point nothing’s been officially offered. The way the studio works, we’d only start having that conversation once MGM gives the final go-ahead to make the film after the script and everything’s worked out. For now, I’ve gotten to write a script for Chris Columbus, who is part of the reason I became a writer to begin with because of GOONIES and GREMLINS and to get notes from him and his whole company is so great. So whatever happens with it, it’s been such a huge win. But hopefully it does get made and hopefully I get to direct it.
Any closing remarks about any projects you have going on?
The big one right now is Holliston which is my sitcom that just wrapped. It’ll air on FearNet, a cable network, and it should be everywhere by April. It’s their first original production and it’s my favorite thing I’ve ever done. It took 13 years to get made and that’s the thing I’m most excited about out of everything I have going on.