With their new FEARnet series, Hollistion, creator Adam Green and co-star/frequent collaborator Joe Lynch have created a sitcom about horror, if not a horror sitcom. Green, who directed the two Hatchet films along with the Sundance hit, Frozen and Lynch, who directed the upcoming Knights of Badassdom along with Wrong Turn 2 (you know, the good one with Henry Rollins), star as two wage slaves with horror filmmaking ambitions beset by the normal everyday evils of low-paying jobs, and the uphill battle to realize your dreams when everyone around you says you can't. Besides the day job, their characters, "Adam" and "Joe" have their own cable access horror show. Oh, and Adam's character gets advice from his imaginary friend, Oderus Urungus, lead of the horror-metal band GWAR, so there's that silver lining.
After mulling over the merits of being chased by aging horror icon Dario Argento (and being menaced by his far more alluring daughter, Asia), I asked them what they thought about the current generation of horror fans—don't they have it a little too easy with nearly everything readily accessible at the click of a button (or tap on a touchscreen)? Green seemed to disagree with my generation crankiness, saying that "When we were kids, we were like, 'wait a minute, I like this stuff,' it was [about] tracking it down at the video store if the video store had it. And usually the horror section wasn't really that big if they had one, and they didn't really have the really obscure stuff." Lynch credits horror magazines Fangoria and Cinefantastique with being a lifeline for him as a young horror fan, where now all it takes is a visit to any horror blog to know what's going on in the world of Japanese guro stuff.
This kind of accessibility has been good for Green and Lynch, whose respective filmography might not have been contenders at the box office, but have still found lives through roadshow screenings. Last year, Lynch, Green, and fellow directors Tim Sullivan and Adam Rifkin took their horror anthology Chillerama on an old-school drive-in screening tour across the country, but that might not have been possible a few years ago without social networking to allow the horror faithful to know when the movie was coming to their town.
Green does have concerns about the new normal for kids with this kind of instant access to pretty much anything. He mentions how when he was a kid, if another kid found their dad's Playboy, he and his friends would all rush over to see it. Now, the meter has shifted, and kids are showing each other far less tame things than airbrushed cheesecake photos (lynch jokes that 20 years from now, fetishes are going to be a whole lot weirder). It's actually kind of a surprise to hear this kind of worry from the man who had his signature villain Victor Crowley cut a man from stem to stern in Hatchet II, but I imagine for Green it's a matter of context and, of course, what's real and what's fiction.
Green says he actually encountered this when a young fan, around six years old, came up to him at a convention looking for an autograph post-Hatchet. Green was worried about why this little girl was so into his movie, and was relieved to find that she was interested in the movie for the same reason any other well-adjusted kid would be: because of the makeup, and the gags, and effects.
Lynch explains that this is actually at the core of Holliston: two characters who grew up loving horror so much, that they want nothing more than to make their own film come hell or high water. When they were young fans themselves, Lynch felt that "Knowing how to make fake blood and knowing how to shoot it definitely put the seed in us to go, 'We could do so much with these tools that we can use to make movies.'" Plus, the duo acknowledge that horror was kind of the "gateway drug" for other filmmakers like James Cameron (Piranha II), Steven Spielberg (Duel), or Joe Dante (Piranha) to gain entry into mainstream filmmaking.
But like any kind of fandom, horror fans can often be maligned as maladjusted or just plain nuts. Ditto for aspiring horror filmmakers. I asked if Holliston was an attempt to humanize horror fans and Green agreed wholeheartedly. He says that they've been getting mail from fans thanking them for making a show that represents the lives of horror fans while also being grounded in reality. Adam and Joe in the show are in the late 20's, broke, and don't have an implausibly nice apartment a la the gang from Friends. But most importantly, they're not the "sidekick, the sight gag, or the joke," as Green observes horror fans are usually portrayed, instead they're the main characters.
At the same time, the duo hopes to keep Holliston friendly to casual horror fans and general audiences as well, and that means not overwhelming the show with excessive obvious call-outs to horror. Instead, the jokes are woven throughout in small ways, such as the guys' pet hamster who's named Horace Pinker, the death row inmate turned supernatural killer in the late 80's Wes Craven movie Shocker. For those that get it, they'll get a laugh, for everyone else, it's a hamster with a silly name. Lynch says they hope to capture the magic of something like Spaced, which was thick with sci-fi and pop culture in-jokes, but was first and foremost a character-based comedy that resonated with audiences.
With Holliston, that point of resonance with audiences for Green and Lynch, is being at that age after college where things just don't work out, where you don't get the great job you expected, and you end up broke and working in a job you don't necessarily like. Lynch says this was a period of purgatory for him and what he suspects is 99% of the audience for Holliston, and most people simply hoped that this rough period would pass into something better. "The message of the show, and I hope that people are getting [it]," says Green, "is that as long as you can keep laughing and for every time you're told 'no,' and for every door that's slammed in your face, as long as you can stay true to who you are and can keep picking yourself back up, it will get better." Lynch says this should be taken to heart not just by horror fans, but by kids who are passionate about music or anything else.
As for what's next, besides the initial run of Holliston's first season on FEARnet, Green says Hatchet III starts filming in two weeks with director BJ McDonnell at the helm from a script by Green. He's also working on a movie called Killer Pizza for MGM and Chris Columbus along with a documentary on urban artist Alex Pardee called Digging Up the Marrow. Lynch is hopeful that Knights of Badassdom, which involves LARPers accidentally summoning a demon, will hit theaters sometime this year. The film stars True Blood's Ryan Kwanten alongside Peter Dinklage and Summer Glau. He's also writing and directing the action film Everly, which features actress getting outside of the romantic comedy zone she's been in for the last decade or so.
Meanwhile, both are waiting for the greenlight for season two of Holliston which looks likely at this stage.
You can catch the first season of Holliston when it airs Tuesdays at 10:30 ET on FEARnet.