Adam Green traces his passion for horror films to his childhood when his older brother, Eric, introduced him to "Friday the 13th."

Adam Green traces his passion for horror films to his childhood when his older brother, Eric, introduced him to "Friday the 13th."


"That's how I caught the bug," says the Holliston, Mass., native.


That bug has since hatched into creature-feature proportions with evidence to be provided Sept. 7 with the nationwide release of "Hatchet," a horror film Green wrote and directed.


A tribute to classic slasher films of the 1970s and '80s, such as "Friday the 13th," "Hatchet" follows the murderous exploits of Victor Crowley as he terrorizes a group of tourists stranded in the Louisiana bayou. Bucking the trend of current horror films, "Hatchet" ratchets up the gore, ramps up the gallows humor and mixes in nudity for good measure. No PG-13 hijinks here. No computer-generated imagery, either.


"There are no cutaways when Victor tears a woman's face into two pieces," says Green. "It's the old-school method of performing a magic show for the audience - how did they do that? It's all done with trick photography and prosthetics. Artists did everything by hand. It's not that computer-generated, silly, cartoonish-looking stuff they're doing now. It's a throwback to why horror was good in the first place."


It's no coincidence the special makeup effects for "Hatchet" are supplied by John Carl Buechler, whose credits include "Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood" and "A Nightmare on Elm Street 4 - The Dream Master."


The genesis for Victor comes from Green's summer camp days when counselors warned the campers to behave or "Hatchetface" would come and terrorize them. When the counselors were short on specifics as to how Hatchetface would torment them, Green filled in the details and told his campmates the story. He got into trouble for scaring the children, his parents were called and he was almost sent home.


A career in horror was in the making.


Green's first short film, "Columbus Day Weekend," even had a horror element as it portrays Michael Myers, the psychotic killer in the "Halloween" horror films, and Jason, the psychotic killer in the "Friday the 13th" series, falling in love while stalking the same campsite. Bootleg copies of the spoof served as Green's calling card to Hollywood and led to his first feature film, "Coffee & Donuts," a romantic comedy based on the director's morning radio program he hosted with friend Steve DeWitt while at Holliston High School.


The movie was produced as a pilot for UPN by Tom Shadyac, the director of "Bruce Almighty." However, when UPN was replaced last year by the CW Television Network, all its television projects in development fell by the wayside, according to Green. That included "Coffee & Donuts."


Cue the hard times. Five years' worth.


"Every struggling, awful thing that could happen in Hollywood happened to me," says the 32-year-old Green. "Things never came to fruition that I was promised.


"I was doing everything from assistant jobs to extra work. I was a DJ at a nightclub. The good thing about that job was (it had) a restaurant. I could walk through the kitchen at the end of the night and take the leftover food off of people's plates and eat it.


"I kept thinking I was living the Hollywood dream because 'Coffee & Donuts' took off, but nothing happened with it."


During those five years, Green wrote "Hatchet."


"Originally, my agent didn't even want to try to sell it because the climate for horror right now is, unless it's remake, a sequel or a torture film, Hollywood won't make them.


"So I found the money independently and put it together. Even then, everyone kept saying, 'It's never going to happen.' 'You don't have enough money.' 'You're never going to finish this.' But we did.


"Then when we were done, they still didn't want to represent the film."


Fortunately, the film that was getting turned-up noses from Hollywood was getting standing ovations from audiences. "Hatchet" was even chosen to screen at the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival in New York.


"Nobody thought we would ever get into a festival like that, being a slasher film," says Green. "But it became one of the biggest hits of the festival. We sold out five nights, audiences loved it, critics loved it, but the offers we were getting from distributors were still so offensive. They were just straight-to-video offers. It was garbage."


So Green took action. He rented a 400-seat theater in Hollywood, putting the $4,000 charge on his credit card. He then put a message on the film's Web site announcing a free screening.


"We also invited the distributors," relates Green. "I said, 'You have to see this with an audience to understand that it's a theatrical film. It's an event."'


The screening attracted 735 people. The theater was filled a half-hour before the film was set to start.


"Then all the studio people show up because they come late to these things because they're too cool, and they couldn't get in," says Green. "There was all this, 'Do you know who I am?' at the front door. It didn't help. We had to add a second show later and the studio execs had to stand on the street with 300 screaming kids and wait to get in and see the movie. That was the night they started to make theatrical offers on it."


"Hatchet" will now be shown in 20 markets with a wider release possible depending on its success. The distributor is Anchor Bay Entertainment.


Green credits "E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial" for getting him interested in film in general. "When I was 8 years old, I saw it for the first time," he says. "I had seen a bunch of movies, but that was the first one where I actually recognized what storytelling was.


"Even at that age, I was starting to figure out, 'OK, E.T. isn't really real. That's a rubber dummy, but why do I feel so much for him? Why am I crying right now because he's going home.' That was the first movie I actually sat through the ending credits for. That was the first movie I was ever able to convince my parents to bring me to the theater twice to see.


"That has always been the most special film for me. I still have a poster of it over my desk in my office. I've seen it like 12 times in the theater. Every time they reissue it, I go."


After graduating in 1993 from Holliston High School and in 1997 from Hofstra University, where he received a bachelor's degree in television and film production, Green made commercials for cable television in Boston. He filmed "Columbus Day Weekend" with equipment "borrowed" from the company.


With "Hatchet," Green the creator gets to put in all the grisly elements of yesteryear's slasher films that appealed to him as a viewer.


"The gore in 'Hatchet' kicks the (crap) out of all those (current horror) movies," he says. "We're way more over the top and in your face, but our heart is in the right place and our intentions are good. It's a really good time. You're laughing. You're screaming. You're a little grossed out. Then you're laughing again. That's what horror should be. I'd love to see it go back in that direction again, because there's a whole generation of kids who are missing out right now because all they know is torture."


The director notes that his parents, Richard and Dale Green, both retired teachers now living in Las Vegas, have seen the film. "And they love it," he says. "I wasn't expecting them to like it. It's horrific at times, but it's fun to watch and they keep watching it."


Shooting on the low-budget film began in April 2005 and finished in June. Principal locations were the California desert and New Orleans shortly before Hurricane Katrina hit.


"Hatchet" features Kane Hodder, who played Jason in the "Friday the 13th" films, as Victor, and Joel David Moore ("Dodgeball") as Ben, who talks his friend into going on a swamp tour.


The movie contains several Bay State references. For example, Ben wears a Newbury Comics T-shirt. "Because that's what I was always wearing," says Green. "He's a major reflection of myself. When Newbury Comics heard about that, they were so excited. They're paying to host (a special screening). It's almost like they're paying me back for all the money I spent in their stores."


Another character wears a Holliston Panthers sweatshirt. The film also contains shout-outs to people with whom Green went to school.


The director's next film is "Spiral," a Hitchcockian drama starring Moore and Amber Tamblyn ("Joan of Arcadia"). The movie is due out next year.


"Hatchet" opens Sept. 7 at the AMC Loews Boston Common and the Showcase Cinemas in Revere.


Anecdotes galore in 'Hatchet'


The horror film "Hatchet," written and directed by Holliston native Adam Green, contains more anecdotes than you can swing a bloody chainsaw at.


For example, Green met Robert Englund of Freddy Krueger infamy at a Masters of Horror conference in 2005. At the conference, Englund admired the Marilyn Manson T-shirt Green was wearing. He also wanted one. So Green went home, purchased the shirt online for $78 and sent it to Englund with the script. Englund called several days later to say he was game for a cameo in "Hatchet."


Green also played an extra in "Eden Formula," the TV movie directed by John Carl Buechler and starring Tony Todd. In the film, Green played a dead security guard who spent the entire day's shoot sprawled at Todd's feet. Buechler provides the special makeup effects for "Hatchet" and Todd of "Candyman" infamy has a cameo in the film.


Dee Snider, lead singer of the 1980s band Twisted Sister, walked Green down the red carpet at the premiere of "Hatchet" at the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival. Green, a pal of Snider's, had been sitting in a nearby pizza shop with his girlfriend, Rileah Vanderbilt, too shy to run the paparazzi gauntlet. Snider and Green first hooked up when the writer/director was in grade school. He wrote a fan letter to Snider that blossomed into a lifelong correspondence.


Before becoming a Hollywood-based director, Green was the lead singer of Haddonfield, a metal band based in Salem. Haddonfield happens to be the hometown of "Halloween" killer Mike Myers.


In order to avoid detection from unions, "Hatchet" had its name changed during production. "We retitled the film 'Love Rodeo' because it sounded like a movie nobody would ever want to see," says Green.


The climactic fight between Victor Crowley and a tourist appears to occur in a cemetery. In reality, four cardboard cutouts of mausoleums provide the backdrop. If you look carefully during the battle, one of the mausoleums teeters noticeably when Victor slams the tourist into it.


Victor's makeup took between 1 1/2 and 3 hours to complete.


Green's aforementioned girlfriend, Rileah Vanderbilt, plays the hideously deformed Victor as a child. In real life, she's a model and makeup artist.


Green was worried that using a belt sander as Victor's weapon of choice pushed the boundaries of reality. After all, where would he plug it in? Green asked the production designers to come up with a gas-powered belt sander. They did - taking three days to create it.


Three attempts were required to set up the scene where Victor's house burns down. The first was deemed too close to an oak tree by the fire marshal; the second time, the house was set up in a parking lot, but was moved when horror director Rob Zombie needed the lot for his movie's base camp; the third time the inferno went off without a hitch.


All the vomit in the swamp monster scenes is real. Kane Hodder, who plays Victor, can reportedly vomit on command, and Joel David Moore, who plays a tourist, was primed with a mixture of orange juice and clam chowder.


Victor's ghoulish drool is a blend of KY Jelly and Mountain Dew.


Crew T-shirts - seen briefly in the voodoo shop scene at the start of the film - have been bootlegged and sold on the Internet since "Hatchet" made the festival rounds. How can you tell if you have an authentic shirt? In the real ones, cemetery is spelled incorrectly as "cemetary," and the skulls have a little hatchet mark on their faces.