Shock Interview: BJ McDonnell & Adam Green on Hatchet III


Hatchet III arrives in select theaters and on VOD today, possibly bringing an end to Victor Crowley’s reign of terror in the bayou.  

Series stalwart Adam Green returns in a different capacity this time, acting as both the writer and producer while BJ McDonnell cuts his teeth in the director’s chair after having served as a camera operator on the first two Hatchet films as well as titles like Rob Zombie’s Halloween, Battle: Los Angeles, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Jack Reacher.

Hatchet III continues the tale of Crowley (Kane Hodder). As a search and recovery team heads into the haunted swamp to pick up the pieces and carnage left behind from the first two films, Marybeth (Danielle Harris) hunts down the true secret to ending the voodoo curse that has left the ghost of Victor Crowley haunting and terrorizing Honey Island Swamp for decades.

Shock Till You Drop spoke with Green and McDonnell about this bloody romp in the swamp.

Shock Till You Drop: This has been a long journey for you, how does it feel coming to the end of this trilogy?

Adam Green:  It’s really bittersweet.  I got to make the movies I always wanted to make and the quality just kept getting better with each one.  And it’s awesome the way the series has held up the way that it has, but at the same time, I’ll watch the last ten minutes of this film and I get a little choked up.  It’s emotional to see it come to a close.  At this end of this story, at least, for Victor Crowley, I hope this is one where we can now relax and celebrate all we’ve done.

Shock:  What was the one constant that kept the excitement going for you through this series?

Green:  Two things.  The crew.  It’s like a family reunion and everyone is happy to be together.  The other one is the fans.  Everyone will always say that this is series completely built on the fans.  This is not one of those series where there is all of this marketing and commercials, but the fans have been so outspoken that they’ve kept it going.

Shock:  I like the look of Crowley this time around…

Green:  It’s the same exact mold and design, but they used silicone instead of foam latex this time.  We changed the appliance, but not the look and the reason being is that you can convey so much more emotion.  But, it was much heavier and hotter, depending on the Louisiana heat.  We put bug spray all over Kane before we applied the make-up and fake blood which is karo syrup – there were just bugs all over biting the shit out of him.  He once got so many mosquito bites, he had to be taken to the emergency room.  They since once you get over 100, you should start worrying.  Just on his arm, he had 136 bites.  He could breathe well, had to go to the emergency room.  That was a regular thing with people going to the emergency room.

Shock:  If there was a new Crowley story to tell, would you be open to it?

Green:  I’m open to it happening.  I can never say never in terms of my involvement.  With Hatchet 1 and 2, they were five years apart in shooting them, so I was able to go and do Spiral, Grace and Frozen.  I couldn’t keep doing Hatchet movies.  That was the reason of the passing-of-the-torch on this one.  I was so busy.  But I was involved on this one from day one from writing, casting, having final cut.  It worked because we promoted from within.  BJ and I saw eye-to-eye on everything.  He was part of this whole thing and it worked.  If there’s more Hatchet movies, who knows?  There’s more Crowley stories to tell, I just don’t know what they are.  Maybe it’ll be me or someone else who comes up with it, it will be something news which is good, because what we did was always planned from the get-go.

Shock:  Did you have to put together any presentation to convince Adam you were the man for the job?

BJ McDonnell:  The thing is I never really asked for it.  Adam knew I wanted to direct, but I had been a camera operator and shooting movies for so long, it’s hard to make that transition.  Adam knew to go with someone who has been there the whole time.  That was a great stepping stone for me.  I never asked for it in any way, but I was in Cape Cod and I got a call and he was like, you’re the guy.

Shock:  Who did you learn from the most in terms of the directors you’ve worked?

McDonnell:  I actually learned the most from Rob Zombie.  Working with him and watching how he preps things.  Learning a lot working with him has been fantastic.  He opened up more doors on how to shoot a movie and avoiding the traditional route of shooting, it’s all visual.  He’s taught me a lot.  The DP’s I’ve worked with over the years, too, I’ve learned from them.  You prep the best you can.

Shock:  What surprised you being in the director’s seat on this movie?

McDonnell:  Well, I was biting my nails every day hoping we didn’t get destroyed by a thunderstorm because that’s the problem shooting in the south during the summer, we had no room for error on our shooting schedule with short summer nights.  If a rainstorm came in, I would just have to start cutting things out of the script.  What I learned from directing a movie like this, learning when it’s time to put my foot down on people I want to do certain things and learning to trust my instincts.

Shock:  Now, I can talk to a guy like you about technical stuff all day, but let’s talk actors.  Did you feel at ease with this?

McDonnell:  I talk to actors all of the time as a camera operator so I felt very comfortable.  I had to break out of was thinking about shots all of the time.  I’m always thinking about trying to tell a story through camera movements where, at times, I had to remind myself that we had to think about actors and performance.  With Caroline [Williams], we worked on her character a lot and it turned out cool.

Shock:  Orchestrating the kills – which was your favorite to pull off?

McDonnell:  There’s a whole sequence that I wrote, and gave to Adam, this big action middle piece, the kills are crazy in that.  Cody Snider’s death is pretty great because it’s so over the top.  Seeing what Cody does in the movie justifies the way Victor Crowley takes care of him.  It’s probably my favorite one.

Shock:  With a feature under your belt, are you now going out to other gigs?

McDonnell:  I just did a thing for Machinima, can’t say much about that other than it’s something connected to Dead Island.  There are some other projects, more action films than anything, that are in the deal process, but can’t mention much right now.

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