While Chillerama is the amalgamation of four different films from directors Adam Green, Joe Lynch, Adam Rifkin and Tim Sullivan, once you hear the title to Green's contribution, you know that you're in for some really inappropriate B-movie madness!
Playing third in the anthology flick is "The Diary Of Anne Frankenstein", which stars Joel David Moore as a gibbering Hitler, Kristina Klebe as Eva Braun and Kane Hodder as the Frankenstein monster in what is sure to be one of the films comedic highlights. We caught up with Adam just as he was wrapping production on his new show Holliston (premiering here on FEARnet!) to talk about how he got roped into the craziness of the Chillerama circus!
FEARnet: What were the origins for Chillerama from your perspective? From what I understand, the four of you guys were hanging out at the Rainbow when this idea came up?
Adam Green: Yeah, I think it really began on Detroit Rock City when Rifkin and Sullivan had talked about the idea of doing an anthology that was more an homage to drive-in movies and B-movies, but having a story that would connect all of it. Then they got busy with other projects for about a decade. Then one of the nights that we were at the Rainbow, they brought it up. My first reaction was to say no. Because this is one of the most common things that comes up, actually pulling off an anthology. The fact that they already had the titles in mind, most of which changed except for Wadzilla and The Diary Of Anne Frankenstein, but when they said "Green, you need to do Diary of Anne Frankenstein!" I said, "Absolutely not, there's no way I'm touching that title with a 10 foot poll. Everyone's going to get pissed off as soon as they hear it. I can't do that." But then that was the challenge. I thought everyone is going to get pissed off when they hear that title. Damn it, now I have to do this! That was really it. It seemed like it was going to be a pretty quick and easy thing to do, because I love making short films and I'm always doing it anyways, it seemed like it would be really fast putting this thing together. Cut to 2 years later, it's been an exhausting, grueling experience trying to wrangle everybody together to do what we needed to do, but we did it. My segment was the first to shoot and it was the easiest, basically because I was doing a 1930's/1940's style movie. It was all going to be on a stage, and it was going to be very contained. I shot mine in 4 days. One cool thing, I was coming right off of Hatchet 2 which was not a fun experience at all. That was supposed to be the victory lap for Ariescope, the ‘getting the band back together' movie to have fun, but by the time we were done with it, I was so disenchanted from directing in general, that I just really wanted to take a break and go write for a while. So when I started Anne Frankenstein, I was kind of pissed that I even signed up for it, but by the end of those 4 days, I remembered why I loved doing this in the first place and it really rejuvenated me and hit my reset button, especially because I got to make comedy again, which I'd been dying to do.
With the Fright Fest short films and the annual Ariescope Halloween shorts, you're fairly used to doing these. Especially with Will Barratt who shot all the Chillerama segments and Joe (Lynch) whom you've worked with on quite a few shorts now. How different was shooting The Diary Of Anne Frankenstein from those, if at all?
Adam Green: It really wasn't. It was like the shorts but it was a little bigger and there was a little bit of a budget. Because usually the Halloween shorts, the challenge is we don't let ourselves spend any money on those and we only give ourselves one day to shoot whatever we come up with, and that's really been the joy of doing them. But with this, there was obviously a script that was planned out, there was some pre-production, it was like doing a really fun mini feature. It was a blast! I love making short films, but how often do you get to make one with a budget? Because who's going to put up the money for a short film if you won't make your money back? It was part of this bigger thing, which made it really cool. Then there was also the fact that everyone involved advised and helped out on what everyone else was doing, but also encouraged each filmmaker to just go and do their own thing. So I know Tim stopped by my set to visit and he's actually in mine at one point. And Adam & Joe stopped by for a bit, but other than that I was really on my own, which was really fun.
Once you had the title, how quickly did this come together? And did you already have friends and frequent collaborators in mind? I mean, Joel David Moore as Hitler? Kinda genius.
Adam Green: Yeah, it was literally instantaneous. Once we sat down again and I said, "Yeah, OK. I'm in." I had all the ideas right there at the table. I wanted to do it in black and white. I wanted it to be all German, but I was going to cast Joel Moore and not let him learn any German whatsoever. The backstory to Anne Frankenstein is that the guy who made the movie had this really great actor to play Hitler, but that guy bailed at the last second, so they grabbed the gaffer and said "you do it!" But he's like, "I don't know any German." "It doesn't matter. Just wing it! You'll be fine." (Laughs) And that was our backstory going into it. That's really the main joke of the whole thing, which is making fun of Hitler and that's why mine's probably the least offensive out of all of them. I really don't see how you can be offended when you see it. I know even the title alone might offend people, but even the title, that title has been a joke that's been around since the 50's. People have made that reference before. I don't think anyone's ever tried to make a movie out of it? But for me, as a Jewish person, to get to spend 20 minutes ragging on Hitler was really fun. Thankfully, when we showed the movie in Germany they laughed harder than anybody else. I was really nervous about showing it there, because obviously it's a very sensitive subject over there and not exactly a moment in time they're very proud of! But they were cheering louder than anybody when Hitler gets him comeuppance at the end.
Kane Hodder plays the Frankenstein monster in this and you got to finally fulfill his dream. He's always wanted to rip someone's arms off and beat them with it. He gets to do that here!
Adam Green: Yeah. He had asked to do that in both Hatchet movies and we actually did shoot something on Hatchet 1 where after he rips Marcus' arms off, the take does go a little bit longer and he starts beating him with them, but even for a movie as cartoonish and silly as Hatchet, it was pretty stupid. With this, it made sense. So he was thrilled to finally get to do that kill in this, not to mention a dance number! (Laughs) He totally owned it. When people see the DVD, there's a good making-of Anne Frankenstein segment where they show me showing Kane how to do that dance. It's pretty corny.
I don't know if you saw the teaser trailer yet for Danielle Harris' directorial debut Among Friends, but Kane does a little dancing there too! This could be a new thing for him.
Adam Green: One of the things I'm so excited about for Kane is he always has this machismo bad-ass rep, but over the past few years, he's really gotten to branch out and he's done everything from emotional crying scenes to sex scenes to dancing. He's showing how great he is, and a lot of people over the last few years have realized that he's a lot more than just some guy that kills people.
For you, what are your favorite B-movies or movies you saw at the drive-in that influenced Chillerama?
Adam Green: Well, for me for Anne Frankenstein, it wasn't B-movies, it was obviously the Universal Frankenstein and everything that Mel Brooks has ever done. That type of humor. So for my segment, I wasn't studying B-movies, except for when it came time to how we would be making fun of the budget, like re-using the same two soldiers but slapping different mustaches on them when they run back in and thinking the audience is going to accept them as different people. That was always fun to do. Or even not adding gun flashes for when Hitler shoots people. We really tried to play with that stuff. But Chillerama as a whole, it's like what Rifkin said, there's so many B-movies that we all love and whenever we have those meetings, the titles are always flying. Rifkin would throw out 5 or 6 titles that I had never seen and same thing with Tim and Joe. More so then specific movies, it was more the decade that each segment took place in that we were more interested in capturing because Joe's is very 70's and 80's. Tim's is very 60's. Adam's was the 50's, mine was the 40's. That's what's special about the movie is that is spans the century of cinema. It's not really making fun of it, as it is about trying to recreate it, which has been really fun with the tour. Tim and Adam have gone for some of the road show tours and them actually getting to screen this at a drive-in and watch everyone see it outside is amazing. Even when we did the screening at the Hollywood Forever cemetery, it just makes it a very unique experience. Getting to have this communal fun experience is what this was all about.