ADAM GREEN INTERVIEW
Interview conducted by Richelle Charkot
Director/writer/actor Adam Green (Hatchet) returns with his fictitious documentary Digging up the Marrow. The film follows William Dekker (Ray Wise), an ex-detective that has found an entrance to an underground inhabited by mutated creatures. Dekker writes to Green, whom is in the midst of filming a monster art documentary, imploring him to investigate "The Marrow".
Richelle Charkot: What struck me the most about Digging up the Marrow is that it feels like a very personal, honest film. As a viewer there's a warm, fun feeling to much of the dialogue and general atmosphere. Tell me about what was most important to you to get across while writing this script and how the idea for Digging up the Marrow came into being.
Adam Green: I get sent really weird stuff from fans sometimes, and one thing I got in 2010 was a letter that said that Victor Crowley from Hatchet was real and that I had messed the whole story up. It had pictures of swamps saying it was where he was really born and this entire story – that's what I love about fans, they're so creative. It was really funny, I wanted to go there and interview him, but ultimately we decided not to just in case I might get Deliverance'd in the swamp or something. Two weeks later I was at a convention and someone came up with a pamphlet that said "Digging up the Marrow" on it, and told me 'thanks for the inspiration,' and that turned out to be Alex Pardee, who I was already a big fan of but I had never seen his face. I read it that night and the storyline was that a man named William Dekker finds the 'Marrow' and it was his journals, and Alex draws all the pictures of the monsters. Alex always has a storyline to his work. So we merged the ideas and said that Dekker sent a letter to me. We were really excited by the idea of making a monster movie and making it as real as possible – especially monsters unlike anything anyone's seen before, looking exactly like Alex's art. The message to the film is just for people to use their imaginations and believe in things like you're a kid again – I'm just a big four-year-old kid, I want monsters to be real so badly. I remember when I saw E.T. as a child and all the other kids my age were terrified, but not me. If there's a monster under my bed he's my friend. If you think about it, Dekker is just an older version of me. He wants to keep going, learn about the creatures – the overall message is tolerance and compassion.
RC: Tell me about your experience working with Ray Wise. What is it about him that makes him perfect for the role of Dekker?
AG: We went back and forth with going with a person that people would recognize, but overall we wanted someone recognizable because we didn't want people to think it was a dupe. If someone didn't know the whole movie was scripted and then monsters showed up after thirty minutes, it'd be jarring, like a hoax. I've seen it happen in other movies at festivals, you can feel it in the audience. We wanted people to know it's a movie even though there's a lot about it that's real. Ray got involved because he happened to call me out of the blue. He was in Chillerama, but not in the segment that I did, and I guess after he saw "Anne Frank" and saw Spiral on cable or something, he sought out my phone number. Ray Wise is on five television series' and in eight movies right now, the man just wants to play good parts, so the fact that he sought me out was so flattering and exciting. It just so happened that I finished the script, so I showed him the pamphlet to look at the art and told him what I wanted to do and how weird it was and by all intents and purposes shouldn't work, but he was so in. He carries the movie. He's a great character actor. He should be the lead in more things, he could carry anything. He could read the phone book and you'd be captivated by it.
RC: Save for Ray Wise, how much are the other people in the film playing characters of themselves? Or is it fairly on par with reality?
AG: It's pretty much on par with reality. Everyone was written to not sound scripted and sound natural, which is the goal of any script; to make the audience forget that it's a screenplay. But even still, I've read reviews where they say that the improv was so good and it's like – wait a minute, no, I did that! But that's what I wanted, for everyone to act like themselves. It's funny though, when I read reviews where they're like, "Green's a total asshole!" but the character version of myself had to be skeptical and sort of make fun of Dekker at the start, it would represent the audience because not everyone would just dive into that scenario.
RC: You have a very identifiable tone to your work, there's a certain playfulness that makes your films very palatable and fun to watch and gives a strong sense of who you are as a storyteller – tell me about your early memories with expressing yourself visually.
AG: I'm going to lose all my horror credibility, but when I was a kid I used to play with stuffed animals. I mean, I totally had my Star Wars toys too, I wasn't a total loser. But there was something about the stuffed animals that made them more like puppets; to perform and do voices and stuff. When I was about sixteen I got my hands on a VHS camera that I was able to borrow and shoot movies with. I made a ten part series called "Stone Cold Crazy", and it was a hand that was chasing people and the people would be scared, but when the hand would get you, the body would disappear and their clothes would just be in a pile on the ground. I'd show it to my friends and people would laugh, and you get addicted to that laugh. I like to entertain, I don't like to punish the audience. Some horror fans love that and it's just like… go fucking jerk off to autopsy videos. I mean… I'm not saying there's not room for that stuff, but typically I like to be entertained. I want people to have fun. Hatchet was sort of my arrival and answer to what was happening in horror, because if you remember around then it was the dawn of torture porn. There's a mean spiritedness to that, and I didn't get into the genre for that, it's not fun for me. Think about it, we live in an era where there's a movie where people get their lips sewn to other peoples' assholes. Human Centipede, man, that movie happened! Even though I do like that movie, I can't tell if it's just because I love Tom Sixx so much; he's like our John Waters. But those torture porn movies, they're mean spirited and they've got no style, they just want to push buttons. I've passed on projects that have that tone to them, I remember one, the villain kills a dog within the first ten pages, I said that if I were to do it we'd have to take that out. I don't like animal violence unless necessary to the plot, there's ten thousand other ways to establish that the character is a villain without killing a dog. That's why I usually write what I direct.
RC: What would you do if you discovered the Marrow?
AG: I would probably do what I do in the movie to be honest. People keep asking me that if the creatures get to the point where they know where I sleep, would I stop, and no, I don't think I would be able to. In my mind they just don't understand me yet and that I'm their friend. I would want to know about them and let them know me. It's like my dog, she grew up with cats and she thinks she's a cat, so when she's actually around cats and they start hissing at her she's like, "it's me!" I would probably do that with monsters. Same thing with aliens – forget the military, you need me to come in there and be like, "Guys, it's cool!" If we do sequels to Digging up the Marrow, I'm really excited to expand on the huge universe and get into the things that we purposely left unexplained in this first film. It's hard to say now because this one does stand alone, but I'd be really excited to go further into this idea.
HorrorTalk would like to thank Adam Green for taking the time to sit down with us!
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