When “Hatchet II” received an NC-17 rating from the Motion Picture Association of America ratings board, Adam Green was offered the option to release his sequel to 2007’s “Hatchet” without a rating exclusively in AMC Theaters.
This would make “Hatchet II,” an independent horror film, the largest release for an unrated film in 25 years.
It was certainly a historic move, but the controversy surrounding the film’s release may have been the reason AMC eventually yanked it from theaters almost as soon as it arrived.
Yet in a phone interview with The Oracle, Green spoke proudly about being a filmmaker who aims to entertain rather than terrify.
“I can appreciate that some people are entertained by movies that are really dark and depraved,” Green said. “That’s not what I do. And that’s why it’s difficult to understand why, out of everybody, I’ve been the most sought after by the ratings board.”
Green has put the entire situation behind him publicly, but he said he still struggles with the lack of originality that has seized the minds and wallets of the people who make the decisions in Hollywood.
“We’ve got this business model in Hollywood where (remakes) are the only movies being made with real budgets by studios, with a lot of marketing,” Green said. “And then the original stuff is condemned to limited releases, and nobody even knows your movie is out.”
Dark Sky Films distributed “Hatchet II,” and heavily emphasized the film being unrated. Green said he appreciated how they marketed the film, especially after his experience with “Frozen,” a movie which he said he believes had much more mainstream appeal than “Hatchet II.”
“Unfortunately it was with a distributor that hadn’t figured out how to do it,” Green said of the ill-fated film. “To me, the secret of doing an independent theatrical release is do one or two screens, let it build word of mouth, and then you slowly build upon that.”
Despite any frustrations towards the Hollywood studio system, critics and fans have acknowledged the hard work Green has put into both “Hatchet II” and “Frozen,” as well as projects like his own short films and the forthcoming horror anthology, “Chillerama.”
“Making critics’ year-end lists is flattering, and I definitely appreciate it. But one of the interesting things I’ve found is ‘Hatchet II’ is the first movie I’ve made where the big four media outlets praised it, and I was almost offended by that,” he said.
Those four major media outlets – the Hollywood Reporter, Variety, the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times – all praised “Hatchet II” for its sly wit and gory fun. Green said he was delighted and confused at the same time.
“With this movie, I was expecting to get crucified. I said ‘These guys are going to tear this thing apart,'” he said. “They didn’t, and they liked it. I will never be able to figure those guys out.”
As for the Blu-ray and DVD release of “Hatchet II,” which is available now courtesy of Dark Sky Films and MPI Media Group, Green promises all the high quality behind-the-scenes looks that fans have come to expect from his films.
“There are two different commentaries, a 35-minute behind the scenes on the making of the movie, and a couple (of) featurettes,” Green said. “And keep in mind, with independent movies there is no budget for that kind of stuff. All of us, everyone on the crew, take turns shooting and making all of it.”
Blu-rays and DVDs have become less profitable due to streaming services like Netflix, On Demand and Amazon, making studios less inclined to focus on special features with releases. Yet Green said he insists on making and funding his own features because they are an asset.
“For me, and other aspiring filmmakers, you live for those special features,” Green said. “If it’s a movie you like, you want to hear about it. You want to meet these people.”
While it’s apparent Green has an appreciation for his actors, it’s the crew behind the camera whose stories can now be told through the features.
“The cast already did their job; they’re in it, you saw them,” Green said. “The DVD special features that just show the cast congratulating each other, you’re just like, ‘Come on, where are the people who made the movie?'”
Other than the previously mentioned horror anthology “Chillerama” – which Green is making alongside “2001 Maniacs” director Tim Sullivan; Joe Lynch, who recently wrapped “Knights of Badassdom;” and Adam Rifkin of “Detroit Rock City” fame – he’s also writing “Killer Pizza,” an adaptation of a young adult novel by Greg Taylor. The film is being produced by Green’s childhood idol Chris Columbus.
Columbus started his career writing screenplays for Steven Speilberg-produced films like “The Goonies” and “Gremlins,” and he even developed a successful directing career of his own that includes “Home Alone” and “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.”
Once Green turned in his first draft of the script to Columbus’ 1492 Pictures, he said he anxiously waited to hear feedback.
“The next day my phone keeps ringing and saying ‘unknown.’ And I usually don’t answer, but I said, ‘F— it, I’m going to answer this.’ And it was him,” he said. “It was a thirty minute, just glowing phone call about how much he loved it, and how much he enjoyed ‘Frozen.’ And I was just floored. I hung up and had to call my mom right away.”
Green reassures his fans that the successes and shortcomings of a career in Hollywood do not always change a person for the worse, and offered a summation of just what keeps him going.
“No matter how much success you have, to me I’m still 8 years old and a kid that wants to do this,” Green said. “So it’s getting to meet people like that, get to know them and have their input. It’s amazing.”