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INT: Joel Moore

09.07.2007

HATCHET needs no explanation for most genre fans - as it’s practically been the most giddily anticipated horror movie to come out all year (sorry HALLOWEEN). Director Adam Green’s flick proudly displays the tagline “Old School American Horror” 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 I’ve 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 that’s how this business works, unless it’s a big budget film and they’ve 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 year’s Tribeca, right?

JOEL: Yeah, and it actually won the audience award there - it did really well - and it’s 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. That’s why this is on the map, because Adam’s 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 filmmaker’s hands, and you want to know that it’s 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.

It’s been two years in the making. What’s your anticipation level now that it’s finally being released to the public?

JOEL: You know, I think people will really like it. I think there’s a lot of comedy-horror films out now that are farces of horror films, or parodies of horror films - and HATCHET isn’t that. HATCHET is actually paying respect to the genre- the slasher genre. Slasher films are different than horror 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 didn’t at first.

HATCHET is definitely worlds apart from that, because while it is bloody, it’s over-the-top - and while not tongue in cheek, it’s fun. Those other movies set out to horrify you to no end...

JOEL: Yeah, you look away, you get sick, nobody’s cheering at deaths in those movies, and those movies have their part in movie-making, and that’s fine. What horror fans really like about the idea of HATCHET is that it’s a straight-up slasher film. And it’s a comedy, and it keeps those two things separate - it’s not making fun of the genre, it’s 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 wasn’t able to watch all of them, but I’d sneak over to a friend’s house and watch them, and that makes the movie better because you feel like you’re guilty when you’re watching these people die and boobies flyin’. You’re eleven years old and you’re at your buddy’s house - it’s 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 HATCHET’s all at night, we were only shooting 8 or 9 hours, and that’s 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.

You’re in AVATAR, right? Can you tell me anything about it?

JOEL: Yeah, we’ve been shooting about six months here, and we shoot all the way until the middle of ‘08, that will have been about a year of shooting, and it’s just great, it’s going to change movie-making. It’s such a beautiful concept, and James Cameron is- it’s amazing working with one of the biggest directors of all time. He still holds the trophy on box office, and it’s pretty cool knowing we’re going into a film that’s going to have a lot of buzz and a lot of expectations, and I believe we meet them all with this movie... It’s sci-fi but it’s 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... It’s really on a different level of filmmaking - not only in the technology that they’re using - the 3-D, the motion-capture and everything that they’re doing to support the beautiful story - but it’s very politically relevant, and the love story is captivating, because it’s about two different types of creatures coming together trying to learn each other, and coming under the gun of a military force that’s coming down upon them. It’s really special, it’s 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 it’s not the last time!)

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