Director Adam Green Takes a ‘Twisted’ Path to Hollywood Horror
If it wasn’t for Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider, horror filmmaker Adam Green (‘Hatchet,’ ‘Hatchet II,’ ‘Frozen‘) might have taken a different career path. “Every time I was in a situation where I was about to give up, Dee and I would randomly run into each other and he would talk me through it,” Green recently told Noisecreep. “The interesting thing is, he was always [also] facing some sort of immense struggle when he and I would coincidentally bump into each other, and talking about it would be helpful to him as well.”
Before Green worked on his first movie, 2000’s ‘Coffee & Donuts,’ he was well on his way to breaking through in the music biz with his Salem, Massachusetts band Haddonfield. Noisecreep talked to Green about his past life as a rock band frontman, the use of metal in horror movies, his unusual relationship with Dee Snider, and how he really feels about Snider’s movie ‘Strangeland.’
Noisecreep Do you think metal has a strong place in horror movies or is it a cliché to resort to a metal song when things get frantic in the story?
Adam Green: It always depends on the situation. I think metal and horror definitely go hand in hand. Even when you go to a horror convention and meet the fans, nine out of 10 times if they’re not wearing some sort of horror shirt they’re wearing a shirt with a metal band on it. For me personally, I don’t use metal in the actual movie because I use scores. I feel like it can take you out of the movie, especially if you recognize the band or the song. Some movies have done it pretty effectively. Wes Craven’s ‘Shocker’ is one of my favorite soundtracks. I don’t know where that movie stands in the critical eye of cinema, but it was a really fun movie because of all the bands that were part of it. Also, there were movies like ‘Trick Or Treat’ that used a lot of metal and actually even had metal stars in it. I think Fastway did most of the music for that one if I’m not mistaken. But for me, I usually restrict metal to the opening credits and the end credits. It’s a good way to kick off a movie with an aggressive, energetic fun concert vibe.
What music did you use for the intros and outros of the ‘Hatchet’ films?
For the first one, we book-ended it with [the] Marilyn Manson [song ‘This is the New S—‘], and with the second one we start with the Ministry song ‘Just One Fix’ and end with the Overkill song ‘Old School.’ Both play lyrically into the movie as well.
When you did ‘Hatchet,’ were you already planning the sequel?
I knew there was going to be a sequel, but I was like, ‘That’s it. I’m done. I’m going to totally stay away from this.’ But it’s a lot like drugs, which is why I used the Ministry song ‘Just One Fix.’ Right before the title comes up, the song stops and you hear a voice say, ‘I could stop if I wanted to,’ and then it kicks into the movie. And at the end we used the Overkill song ‘Old School,’ which is an anthem to people who said that this wouldn’t stay and this wouldn’t work, but we wouldn’t give a fuck.
Did you get to meet Marilyn Manson, Ministry’s Al Jourgensen or Overkill’s Bobby Blitz Ellsworth?
I never actually talked to Al or Bobby. Everything was done through the producers and the label. With the first one, though, I have met Marilyn Manson a couple of times and our lead actress [Tamara Feldman] was very friendly with me at the time. And he was very helpful in making sure that it happened because we were on a very tight budget. And Manson is a very expensive artist to try to get on an independent movie. And he was so cool and helpful and made it happen.
You used to be in a band called Haddonfield, which was named after the home town of ‘Halloween’ villain Michael Myers?
That was my post-college band. I was in it from 1997 to 2000 as the singer and it was interesting because the band was starting to take off in the Boston area. There used to be a club called Bleachers in Salem, and it had a history where once you became the Thursday night band things started to take off. Powerman 5000 had played there and Godsmack were pretty much born there. And we were the next thing after Godsmack. We kind of sounded like old Van Halen. But I was always chasing my film career equally if not more, and when my first movie got picked up and I got an agent and things started to happen, I was faced with the dilemma of which one to pursue. And for me, it’s always better to gamble on myself than have to rely on four other people that might not be as committed all the time as I am. So I had to decide to leave the band. And even though I wrote a lot of the songs I told them they could keep everything, and all they had to do was find a new singer, which is really the easiest thing to find. And ten years later there’s still no singer in Haddonfield, so I think I made the right call.
Did you enjoy being a band frontman?
It’s funny because our guitar player Jon Rabbit was the star. He taught himself to play guitar by watching Guns N’ Roses and Van Halen videos and just watching where Eddie and Slash put their fingers and just mimicking it. So within a few months of learning how to play guitar, he was playing ‘Eruption’ perfectly behind his head. He was really the main talent in the band because he was the one everyone wanted to see. Normally at a show, there’s usually a huge group congregated at the front of the stage wherever the singer is, but at our shows most people were always standing in front of Jon because he was just so good.
Were you big fans of the original ‘Halloween’ by John Carpenter?
Of course. Who isn’t? We thought it was a cool name and it lent itself to some great imagery. Our logo was a pumpkin in a straightjacket and we had the Michael Myers head on a stake at the back of the stage. Especially being in Salem, it was really great around Halloween time because everybody wanted a Halloween band. One of our songs [‘Among the Dogs’] was actually used in my  movie ‘Frozen.’ There’s different music playing on the loudspeaker at the ski mountain in the background. So I used all local Boston bands that we had grown up with and played with to be that background music.
Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider had a cameo in ‘Frozen.’
Yeah, we have a long relationship that continues to this day. Back when I was eight years old I really became infatuated with Twisted Sister and always looked up to Dee Snider and he has been my guardian angel or my Yoda throughout life, and over the past five years he has become one of my best friends. He actually married my wife and I this past June. His son was at the premiere of ‘Hatchet,’ and has since decided to become a filmmaker and was my assistant on ‘Frozen’ and a PA on ‘Hatchet II.’ And he just finished his first short film.
Can you, in good conscience, give us an honest critique of Dee Snider’s critically maligned ‘Strangeland?’
I can be honest. I think the idea of ‘Strangeland’ was amazing and it was the first torture film in a lot of ways because nobody actually gets killed in the movie. The whole Captain Howdy theme and using the Internet to lure people in, for its time, that was a cut above what else was happening. I don’t think the final execution was exactly what he intended, and I know Dee would agree with that. But they’re working on a sequel now, and I think he’s got the right director and he’s gonna have a lot more control over it. The first time he was sort of lucky to be making the movie and a lot of decisions were sort of made for him.
Do you stay on top of today’s metal scene?
There was a time when I spent all my money on different CDs and trying to find different bands and I always wondered why the older generation’s music taste became defined at a certain point and they didn’t really get into the newer stuff. I never understood that. But I realized that in the past decade, the only new band I’ve really gotten into was My Chemical Romance, which I never expected to like. When I first saw what they looked like, I wrote them off as this emo goth band that probably sucked. But when I heard ‘Welcome to the Black Parade’ it really put me over the top because it reminded me so much of Queen. But most of the stuff I’m super-into is stuff I was into over a decade ago like Marilyn Manson, Metallica, and Aerosmith. I’ve seen Manson 27 times. I once followed him all the way up the East Coast. And Metallica, I’ve seen 34 times and any time they’re anywhere within five states, I’m there.