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Victor Crowley is returning. The harbinger of “Old School
American Horror,” as he was touted in 2006, has taken up residence in the
southern swamps yet again, alongside creator Adam Green, and stars Kane Hodder and
Danielle Harris. This go ‘round however, camera operator BJ McDonnell has taken
the directorial reins for what him and Green are calling Crowley’s biggest romp
yet. Fango sat down with the director and writer/producer and discussed expectation vs. reaction, and outlined what fans can expect from the gory, sweaty and apparently action-packed HATCHET III.
FANGORIA: With HATCHET III, Adam is producing and scripting.
So BJ, where does your stamp lie, is it on a purely visual level?
BJ MCDONNELL: Basically, Adam told me about the project and
said he wanted me to do it, which I was totally excited about. We collaborated
together on what he wanted to do with the story and what I wanted to do with
the story, so during the whole script-writing process, we went together and I
brought a little more of my visual style—not that we didn’t do that before,
because I was the camera operator on the other two—but I wanted to take a
little more time with certain things that were different on this one. It’s
visual style, but we also did work together on the script to make it both ours.
ADAM GREEN: Yep. Basically, I told him this is what the
storyline is, these are most of the kills, and then we just discussed and
through conversations would build upon them or change things. It wasn’t like
bringing in some new person from outside. It was very much in sync. Even the
first day on set, in terms of passing the baton, the crew already knows him and
the cast know him. It was very seamless. It couldn’t have worked out better, I think.
FANG: Obviously, you recasted Marybeth for HATCHET II and
brought in Danielle. Now, doing a second sequel with her, do you feel like you’re
achieving where you wanted that character to be as an iconic leading lady/final
GREEN: For sure, with HATCHET II, it was really hard because
normally in a horror movie, when you’re the lead actress, you get at least
30-40 pages of cute, happy stuff, and then shit hits the fan. She is starting
the movie with his arm around her throat, her family’s dead, everybody’s dead.
So, she just had to be in absolute misery through the whole thing. By the time,
this one takes place—which, again it starts the moment the other one ended—she’s
much more shut down and numb. She’s a little bit more of a Ripley in this one,
to some extent. Without spoiling too much about it, she doesn’t want to go back
to the swamp. She’s not like, “let me back at ‘em.” That’s now how this one
goes down. But, it is great now that there’s been two HATCHETs with Danielle so she sort of solidifies herself,
because there were some people who were attached to the other girl. The way I
think with Danielle is, she’s Danielle Harris. When it became evident that we
were going to have to make change, to sort of level up, and get somebody who
the fans know and love, and who’s an icon, that really helped. In this movie,
as much as she’s more shut down emotionally, she gets more to do instead of just
being crying, crying, sad, screaming.
Like, sometimes someone would be like, “Does she have to be
crying through the whole movie?” I’m like, “What would you do?”
MCDONNELL: Yea, your family was just cut up in a shed, and
you just watched everyone you were with die twice.
GREEN: They were like, “I’d just kill myself.” Oh, that’d be
a great movie.
FANG: The best short film! The HATCHET films are peppered
with beloved genre actors. Are there surprises yet, in store?
GREEN: There is cast that hasn’t been announced yet, so that’s
really exciting. How we’ve been able to keep it quiet this long, I’m really
excited about. So, there will be some surprises there for people showing up.
This time around, when you think about it as one big movie, where HATCHET is a
fun first act, HATCHET II is sort of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK in the way that it
was much darker and a little more serious; it was a lot of story, which earned
us the right to do what we did with three, which is the action climax. So, this
time around we didn’t need to explain everything about Victor Crowley. We did
that already. In the first one, we glanced over it. The second one was all
about the Voodoo curse, what Mr. Crowley did, what exactly he is, a repeating
ghost. That’s all out there now, so this time, we were able to just not have to
slow down the movie to stop and do that stuff again. As funny as it sounds, a
lot of people, whether it’s a fan or a critic, they think that their opinion is
the only one, of course. At FrightFest in London, where we premiered HATCHET II—HATCHET
II is my baby, I love that movie—one of the critics was like, “my god, did you
have to explain three fucking times that he’s a repeating ghost and he comes
back; we fucking get it.” And this fan’s waiting and he’s like, “Actually, yea
I wanted to ask you, so he’s a ghost?” And I go [makes “see?” gesture].
MCDONNELL: It’s amazing, even nowadays, people are like, “he’s
got his head blown off, how’s Crowley gonna come back?” It’s explained so many
times in the movies. He’s a repeater.
GREEN: You have to just make a choice, we’re making this
movie the way we’re going to make the movie and you can’t sit here and be like,
“well, how do we please the people that are gonna say that’s taking too long
and or that’s this…”
FANG: Well, you don’t want any filmmaker to do that. You
want a filmmaker to make their movie,
GREEN AND MCDONNELL: Yes.
GREEN: But it is funny how one person can be like, “Oh my
god, we get it, it was explained so many times,” and there’s other people who still
can’t comprehend it.
MCDONNELL: You can still read it on message boards. It
happens still, all the time.
GREEN: I’ve learned to not look at message boards. I don’t
even look at reviews anymore. You’ll learn.
MCDONNELL: I’ve learned fast.
GREEN: The first person that wishes you to get cancer on a
message board, you’ll be over it.
FANG: One of the things greatly sticks out is the flashback
sequence in HATCHET II. It’s the most striking part of the series-
GREEN: That’s my favorite part.
FANG: It gets so dark and it’s legitimately eerie. Is there
anymore of that style in HATCHET III?
MCDONNELL: We didn’t do any flashbacks,
FANG: Not necessarily flashbacks, but that mood?
GREEN: There’s dark stuff-
MCDONNELL: It’s actually very dark. This one is very moody
and very dark. Even the beginning, stuff that me and the editor, Ed Marx have cut
together is pretty intense; right from the get-go. But it still has the same
comedy, and it’s the same style that we’ve done the other HATCHET films with.
We want to make sure we keep that, because that’s what everybody likes, that’s
what we likes.
GREEN: The ending, especially. For me, when I made one, I
already knew what II was, and when I made II, I knew what III would be, but I knew
I wasn’t going to be the one directing it, before I ever shot a frame of
HATCHET II. But this time, I’m not saying it’s the end, you never know-
FANG: But you’re approaching it as the end of, at least,
GREEN: This piece. I approached it like that, and so the
ending was tough for me to write; even on set, watching it. So, the crew and
the cast never got scripts with the ending, so nobody knew until we shot it.
That was when you really saw the crew start paying attention, when they realized,
“oh, they’re shooting the final scene.” Everybody gathered around to see what
was actually happening, and what goes on.
One of my favorite monsters is Frankenstein, because there’s
sympathy for him, and really I tried, especially in that flashback story, to
keep a shred of sympathy for Victor Crowley because this wasn’t his fault. I
feel like we get in that how this thing wraps up. There are so many people that
are like, “I bet I know how it ends,” and nobody’s gotten it right, yet. It’s
fine, no one’s starting a contest of it. Don’t worry about it, just watch it
and see where it goes.
MCDONNELL: It’s funny, they really want to know before they
actually see the movie. Just go see the film.
GREEN: How does he kill people? What are the cameos? And how
does it end?
FANG: We live in a perpetual hype culture. Before HATCHET II
came out, it was “what’s HATCHET III?” It’s endless.
GREEN: We’re already—the question, “So, HATCHET 4?” It’s
like, “Let’s talk about HATCHET III”
FANG: You’ve been to the swamp now for both films. Did you
have any conversation relative to how to shoot it differently, or what can we
find that’s new?
MCDONNELL: My whole thing was, “let’s go to New Orleans and
actually shoot this in the swamp.” Which, I think everybody wants to kill me
for, because it was so damn hard.
GREEN: And it looks like HATCHET II.
MCDONNELL: No, it doesn’t!
GREEN: There’s moments where you can definitely tell it’s
the swamp, but the thing to remember is that even though HATCHET II was on a
soundstage, it was the same tree from the swamp, the same moss, the same
everything, just flown in and put there. It’s the same thing, there’s just a
roof over our heads that the audience can’t see. As soon as we told people it
was a soundstage, they were like, “looks fake!” It’s all real, everything about
is real. There were no fake trees. HATCHET, if you watch closely, when they’re
running you can see the pots that the plants are in, because that was in the
desert. This time, we were in the real swamp, the elements were horrible.
MCDONNELL: The elements were absolutely terrible.
GREEN: But it does look beautiful. There’s moments where it’s
like, “holy shit.”
MCDONNELL: When we were doing part two, I hated the fact
that we couldn’t do big wides. The widest we did was the shot of Kane and Tony
going towards each other, and that wasn’t even that wide.
GREEN: But we were also shooting 1:85. This time, the movie
starts at a certain point, we stretch to 2:40, because the scope of this
one—there’s so much action, and so many more characters.
MCDONNELL: It’ll look bigger. So, we did change the visual
style a bit, and when you do see the swamp, it’s a swamp.
GREEN: It ‘s so beautiful, it looks fake. Every time I look
through the lens, it looks fake.
MCDONNELL: The funniest thing was Will Barratt, our DP, was
like, “BJ, I’d be setting up a shot, and you would come over and just change
it. Right off the bat.” I just wanted to do certain different things, and Will,
I gotta tell you, Will killed it on this one. He brought the thunder.
GREEN: He had the equipment he wanted. HATCHET, the biggest
thing shooting the exteriors is condors, the big, huge lights. They get to set
and then they couldn’t get them up to where the set was, so the whole movie’s
lit with like nine lights, and we just did the best we could.
MCDONNELL: I actually like it though. Now, when I watch it,
GREEN: And then, HATCHET II, budget-wise, we couldn’t get
everything we wanted, but was at least a little bit more contained. With any
movie, when HATCHET came out, people said, “this sucks,” and two years later it’s
like, “it’s a classic.” HATCHET II comes out, “the first one is so much better,”
now they watch it again, it’s, “II is better than I.” This one, it’ll be
curious to see what people say, it’s an action movie and that’s what BJ brought
to it. There’s an action style to it. Stunt work, wire work, people getting
thrown through the air 20 feet. It’s really, really crazy. And that’s where he
just went nuts with what he wanted to do, making it more of an action movie
than the other two.
MCDONNELL: It was just really good to mix the two things
together, and still keep the horror element to it. We just had a lot of fun
with it, we really made it killer.
GREEN: The design of Victor Crowley, too. Even from I to II
to III, it’s the same molds. We never changed the look, we just got better at
how we applied it. So HATCHET, we had to keep him hidden because half of his
face was just a mask. It was a rubber mask that couldn’t movie, and the more
you looked at it, it was horrible. HATCHET II, we were able to do his entire
face so he had expression, and could move and you could see both of his eyes
all the time. Plus, by the time we get to the sequel, that’s the character the
fans are coming to see. So, you want to show him, you don’t want to hide him
all the time. This time, same stuff, but we did all silicone instead of latex,
so it was fifty pounds, which in a 100 degree heat, doing stunts, I don’t know
how he did it without dying. But, it was so seamless in the way it moves, and
so realistic. It’s still the same molds, but we finally perfected, even down to
the hair. Because it’s silicone, we could reuse the same head every night. So,
this time the hair was individually placed, real human hair. He looks exactly
like we always wanted him to.
MCDONNELL: He’s a scary fuckin’ Crowley in this one.
GREEN: We’re releasing this teaser poster here, and I sent
them the picture of him, and the marketing people were like, “Let’s tweak this.”
But I actually think it’s cool, because people still don’t know.
HATCHET III is out in 2013
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