HATCHET needs no explanation for most genre fans - as itís practically been the most giddily anticipated horror movie to come out all year (sorry HALLOWEEN). Director Adam Greenís flick proudly displays the tagline ďOld School American HorrorĒ on its poster, and it is indeed exactly that. Simply put, you guys are going to love this flick, and as we count down to its release Iíve got three interviews to whet your appetite.
Here we have Joel David Moore, who plays the "hero" Ben. Although Joel has never been particularly known for flexing his heroic muscles (you may recognize him from flicks like DODGEBALL and ART SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL) - HATCHET and the James Cameron-directed AVATAR will most likely put an end to all that.
Is it strange doing this much press for a movie that you shot two years ago?
JOEL: No, cuz thatís how this business works, unless itís a big budget film and theyíve bought their date already, things take a while to turn around. On an independent film you have to go through the process of, first, making the film; second, delivering the film - it takes another six-to-eight months to get everything edited and colored, all the post-production things you have to do; and then you take it out and try to sell it. That could take months and months, if not years, depending on what the film it.
HATCHET was at last yearís Tribeca, right?
JOEL: Yeah, and it actually won the audience award there - it did really well - and itís done a slew of other big festivals around the world since then and Adam is over at FrightFest in London, and it just killed there. And it apparently won at some festival in Paris. Thatís why this is on the map, because Adamís smart. He did it right from the beginning, he knew exactly what he wanted to do, and how he wanted to make it.
Did you anticipate this was going to be such a big deal, or did you think it was going to go straight to DVD or cable?
JOEL: Well, you never know with an independent movie. The thing that I like to see is that a director is working harder than I am, and Adam was definitely doing that. My name and my acting is essentially in the filmmakerís hands, and you want to know that itís in good hands. From the very beginning I felt pretty secure it was going to do well. And this is a different world now, a movie going straight to DVD is not a big deal, huge movies go straight to DVD, so the fact that we got a theatrical release is a huge bonus and it really says something about the film and the quality of it and the buzz that surrounds it.
Itís been two years in the making. Whatís your anticipation level now that itís finally being released to the public?
JOEL: You know, I think people will really like it. I think thereís a lot of comedy-horror films out now that are farces of horror films, or parodies of horror films - and HATCHET isnít that. HATCHET is actually paying respect to the genre- the slasher genre. Slasher films are different than hoor films, and horror films are different than thrillers. And HATCHET does a really good job of filling a specific part of the horror genre... Adam talks about the torture-porn movies that are just disturbing movies that ironically get rated R, which HATCHET didnít at first.
HATCHET is definitely worlds apart from that, because while it is bloody, itís over-the-top - and while not tongue in cheek, itís fun. Those other movies set out to horrify you to no end...
JOEL: Yeah, you look away, you get sick, nobodyís cheering at deaths in those movies, and those movies have their part in movie-making, and thatís fine. What horror fans really like about the idea of HATCHET is that itís a straight-up slasher film. And itís a comedy, and it keeps those two things separate - itís not making fun of the genre, itís actually complementing the genre.
Were you a fan of the slasher movies growing up?
JOEL: I was! I grew up in a conservative house, so I wasnít able to watch all of them, but Iíd sneak over to a friendís house and watch them, and that makes the movie better because you feel like youíre guilty when youíre watching these people die and boobies flyiní. Youíre eleven years old and youíre at your buddyís house - itís double the pleasure. Some of my favorite movies of all time are horror movies, like THE EXORCIST, and actually 28 DAYS LATER is one of my favorite movies.
What was it like working with Kane Hodder, and were you familiar with his resume?
JOEL: I had to be reminded at the time about what he had done, but once I knew, I knew, you know? It was all coming together at the same time: Kane was attached to the film, and that helped me in making the decision to be a part of it - and they had already talked to Robert Englund and Tony Todd - so I knew that things were going to draw people to this movie, and I liked that there was a structure being developed around the movie.
Did shooting take place primarily in New Orleans?
JOEL: It was split, we shot in New Orleans, and we shot in Los Angeles - we dressed some woods in L.A. to look like the swamps of New Orleans. We were one of the last films that were shot before Katrina. There was something special about that. Personally it was good for me, because I had never been to New Orleans, and I got a chance to see Mardi Gras. So I appreciate the value of the people who live there, and what they miss now...
How long was the actual production, all told?
JOEL: A month and a half I think, maybe six or seven weeks. Traditionally on an independent film, your days are really long, you usually work about 12 hours. Because HATCHETís all at night, we were only shooting 8 or 9 hours, and thatís something that brought us all together as well, it created the team effort, because we all knew we had limited time at night to get everything done.
Youíre in AVATAR, right? Can you tell me anything about it?
JOEL: Yeah, weíve been shooting about six months here, and we shoot all the way until the middle of Ď08, that will have been about a year of shooting, and itís just great, itís going to change movie-making. Itís such a beautiful concept, and James Cameron is- itís amazing working with one of the biggest directors of all time. He still holds the trophy on box office, and itís pretty cool knowing weíre going into a film thatís going to have a lot of buzz and a lot of expectations, and I believe we meet them all with this movie... Itís sci-fi but itís a different kind of sci-fi. When I read the script for the first time, they locked me in a room and had me sign my life away... Itís really on a different level of filmmaking - not only in the technology that theyíre using - the 3-D, the motion-capture and everything that theyíre doing to support the beautiful story - but itís very politically relevant, and the love story is captivating, because itís about two different types of creatures coming together trying to learn each other, and coming under the gun of a military force thatís coming down upon them. Itís really special, itís going to change the way people are viewing movies and the way people can be entertained.
A very special thanks to Joel David Moore for taking the time to chat with me. (Hopefully itís not the last time!)