Adam Green is a popular horror film director, writer, producer, and actor with an incredibly devoted and loving fanbase. He has churned out features, short films, and two seasons of a television series over the past decade, but now has been making a splash online with several new original series on his company’s website, ArieScope.com. The latest of these is Horrified!, a stylish black and white series that was co-created by Green and director Sean Becker, and is hosted by Corri English, Green’s co-star on Holliston. Horrified! is a non-scripted show that features a different member of the entertainment industry each week sharing their most horrifying tales from their real lives.
Green was kind enough to sit down with Wicked Horror’s Michele Eggen to discuss all the details about Horrified!, as well as the upcoming third season of his show Holliston in this exclusive interview. And when you’re done, don’t forget to check out Horrified! HERE on the ArieScope Pictures site!
Adam Green: Yeah, originally we were just going to do 17 episodes and it was going to end right around Halloween, and that’s when we were going to start season two of Scary Sleepover. But just in these four episodes alone, we’ve gotten such a huge reaction that we’re going to expand it. Just today, I think maybe an hour ago, we posted all 22 pictures of who the guests are and what their episodes are on the website, and we might actually be adding two more to that so there might even be 24 episodes now.
WH: What was the genesis for Horrified!?
AG: Well, kind of like with Scary Sleepover, and by doing the podcast [The Movie Crypt with Joe Lynch] every week, which is like two hours long and extremely involved and technical and a lot more serious usually, we found out just how much the fans appreciate getting to hear who the people behind the scenes are–whether they’re actors or directors or even crew members–just how much the fans appreciate hearing their stories and getting to know them more personally. So we thought that Scary Sleepover would be fun because at least that’s only like a 15-minute long show, it’s a video show, it’s a lot more loose and fun than the podcast, and that got a huge reaction so we’re doing a second season of that, I guess it will start around Christmas now, which is great. Just in talking to people, everybody has some kind of horrifying story, and Sean Becker and I started talking about what the word “horrified” means because to some people it’s being scared, to some people it’s being incredibly embarrassed, or there’s stories that are gross, or stories that are just cute or silly, and then there’s some that are terrifying. So we thought that we would do this kind of like Twilight Zone-type show and make it really stylized, and have Corri English as the host as kind of like our Rod Serling. And what was so awesome about this was that everybody who we invited to come and tell a story, it’s not like they could see the show yet, and they didn’t know what anybody else was telling, so the stories are all true. They were all very sincere and nobody was trying to necessarily be funny or scary because they would sit down and be like, “What kind of story do you want?” And I would just say, “Whatever you want to say. Just tell me about a time you were horrified.” And so we ended up getting just such a wide range of stories where some of them are really funny or embarrassing, but some of them are actually really disturbing. It was hard to pick the first three that we were going to post because that kind of sets the tone for the series, so we started with Rachael Leigh Cook, and her story was just a cute misunderstanding, and then we followed it up with something gross which was Jeff Lewis and his sperm donation story, and then when we hit with Matt Waters’ story about the girls that wound up being raped and killed. That was the one where I think the show really blew up, because there were people that were actually angry with us because from the first two episodes, they were expecting something funny and then when they got a really disturbing, very scary story, they just weren’t expecting that. Most people really appreciated that, and they were like, “Holy shit, I didn’t see that coming, that was awesome.” But other people, their reaction was more like, “Why did you do that?! Now I’m all freaked out.” And THAT’S the point. So we actually went and found the news story about it, because so many people were like, “That’s an urban legend! I’ve heard that story before.” No, it’s real. And that’s not even the most disturbing one, there’s one coming, I want to say it’s in November, that really is so awful. You know, when we’re shooting these, we’re all laughing, but then when Matt Waters told that story and he gets to the end, and he says, “These two girls were raped and killed,” and all of us are just silent. What you don’t see in the episode is me saying, “Well, that wasn’t really funny!” And he said, “Oh, do you want me to tell a funny one?” and I was like, “No! That was perfect, that was awesome.” So it’s just fun each week when you have no idea what you’re getting into when you watch it. The fact that fans are getting to hear not only from actors that they know but also getting to hear from people like Matt Waters, who’s a sound designer, and we have a first assistant director telling a story eventually, and an editor. I just love involving the crew and getting to put them in front of the camera and be front and center every now and then.
WH: Yeah, that Matt Waters story [watch it HERE]. I tried to post a comment on your Facebook page about it and all I could say was, “Wow.” That was amazing. So how did you get Corri English involved with Horrified!? Is this something you worked on together to develop?
AG: Obviously she’s been in a bunch of the things I’ve done, she’s my costar on Holliston, but she just was always telling me different [stories]. Her stories were mainly acting things that she would tell me, like just different auditions that she went on or her friends went on, and super embarrassing things that have happened. And she just has such a good look, especially with the glasses and the professional look, and as you’ll see as they continue, some of her intros start to get really funny. So it just totally made sense. And when I asked her, I didn’t even finish telling her what it was, she just said yes. It was also cool too because some of the guests are people that she reached out to and invited in who I had never even met before so it extended our family by that much more, which was great.
WH: Yeah, that’s what I was going to ask you: How did you get the people involved in this? Did you approach them already knowing these stories, or did you not know what they were going to say when they got there?
AG: I only knew maybe three of the stories that were going to be told, but we’re just in a really great position after all of these years, like even with the Halloween short films that we do, where most of the time people are just coming to us and just saying, “Hey, I know you guys are always making stuff, I just want to be a part of it. If there’s anything I can do, just don’t forget me.” Nobody has ever said no when we’ve asked them to do anything, and it really means a lot when it’s something like this, or Scary Sleepover, where they haven’t seen it yet and they don’t know what it is, but yet they’re still willing to come in and do it. They just trust us and they know that we have a big following, and they know how much the fans appreciate it, so they’re always just so excited and grateful to do it. I think this first season of Horrified! is really cool because nobody had anything else to go off of. One concern that we had, if we do a second season, is that we don’t want people coming into it trying to outdo other people, or trying to be “on,” or really hamming it up, because that would ruin the simplicity of it. That’s another reason why we extended the season because as soon as people saw the first couple, like everybody that I’ve ever worked with or know started calling and asking if they could do one, so that was really cool. And I also think people like the whole lighting setup that Will Barratt built with the double ring of fluorescent light, like, people look really good [with that] so when the people who have done it started posting pictures and stuff online, I think that made a lot of actors want to come running because they were like, “Oh man, I want to look that good!” [laughs] So now we have more people asking to do it that we can possibly fit or even choose from. We shot most of this first season in three days, it was like three very, very long days where we had everything set up and people would come in one after another, and go through makeup, sit down, tell their story, and leave. With some people, it really only took 15 minutes of their day, so they really enjoyed doing it.
WH: Do you have your own story to tell for Horrified!?
AG: I do. Mine’s going to be the Halloween episode because my story involves something that happened to me, here we have Universal Studios and they do Halloween Horror Nights every year for Halloween, and one of the years that I went there, something really embarrassing happened to me. So that’s going to be the Halloween episode. Originally, I wasn’t going to do one, because I mean, I’m in enough of the stuff, so I was like “Just skip me.” But everyone else said “You gotta tell the story about the bathroom.” So I was like, “Alright fine, I’ll do it.” But also, like Jordan Ladd’s story about farting in class in high school. She had never told that story before. And even her mother, when her mother saw the episode was like–this is gonna sound so weird–but she was like, “I’m really proud of you that you’re finally able to tell that story.” Because it scarred her for life, and even [Jordan] was like, “I don’t know if I really want to tell this.” And I just said, “Here’s the thing though: you telling that story–that has happened to so many people.” And there’s so much pressure, especially on women or young girls when they’re in high school where the smallest embarrassing thing is the end of their life. I think to see like a, whatever you want to call it, a traditionally beautiful, famous actress admit to a story like that, it’s kind of empowering. So many girls wrote in about how much they appreciated that, and so I thought that was really cool. And there’s just something awesome about lifting up the curtain and reminding everybody that we’re all the same and we’re all people. There’s a weird thing that happens when you’re an artist, especially one who’s in front of the camera or considered famous or whatever, where people stop treating you the same way, or there’s expectations on you, and it’s always been like that. I like doing stuff like this where you get to show people that we’re just real people.
WH: Yeah, that’s what I love about what you’ve been doing with the podcast, and then with Scary Sleepover, and now this, people are getting a chance to know these people that might just be names to them. They’re actually a person. That’s been really cool.
AG: And I think it forges a relationship, a deeper relationship between artists and fans, where when you let them in a little bit more, like especially with the podcast and the people that come on, like when Pat Healy came on and talked about broke he was.
WH: Well, what about the technical side of [Horrified!]? How did you choose the style for shooting it?
AG: Ever since we did “The Diary of Anne Frankenstein” for Chillerama, Will and I have always been in love with shooting in black and white. It’s just not something that you can do all that often, and this was just using the Twilight Zone feel. We didn’t want to make it look super dated and all scratchy or anything like that, but we just felt like because these stories are figuratively as black and white as they come–it’s just one person in the spotlight telling their real story, so black and white just fit. Rachael was the very first person we shot, and as soon as she sat down and started speaking, we were like, “Yeah, this is definitely the right choice.” We had a second camera that was shooting color just in case, and it just didn’t feel as personal.
WH: And that light thing, which looks really cool, you said Will Barratt built that?
AG: Yeah, Will and I started ArieScope in ’98 so he’s literally shot every single thing we’ve ever done–every short film, every feature, everything–but the whole fluorescent ring light in a shot was something that a lot of 90s music videos had done. So it wasn’t like a brand new thing. I’m not into wrestling at all but Sean Becker is, and he was watching this documentary where they had a circle ring light, and I was like, “Well that’s really cool but obviously we’ve seen it before.” Will said, “Oh, I have an idea!” And really, all his idea was, was two lights, but there’s something about that where thematically it feels like a dartboard almost, and the person telling the story is the bullseye of it. Your eye is so focused on their facial expression and on their eyes, and the fact that they’re delivering the story to camera instead of to me or Sean, it just worked. I don’t know what we can use the ring light for other than this again, but one of the things that Sean kept saying when we started to see that the show was getting a following, is that he’s hoping that eventually somebody tries to parody this on YouTube or whatever, it would be so cool to see that look. I mean, someone would have to know what they’re doing to build that light like what Will did, but there’s plenty of talented people out there, I’m sure somebody will figure it out. But that would be very cool to see a parody version of this.
WH: I also love the editing style of Horrified! because the tone of the editing for each episode matches the tone of the story that’s being told.
AG: Sean is the one who really set the editing style. He edited the first three just to get things started, and then together we came up with the idea of using graphics, the chalkboard graphics that come up, and we always knew that we were going to have a lot of cuts and have the person’s face kind of moving around on the screen just so it wouldn’t be boring. But Sean really set the style and now all three of us are cutting episodes, like I did this week’s one with Jordan, but it just helped to have already gone through post on three of them and now we totally are in the zone and we have the style down pat.
WH: Yeah, because I like with Rachael Cook’s, you show her talking to you off screen at one point and all the different texts, it just keeps the funny tone. Then with Matt Waters, it’s really simplistic and there are not a lot of cuts so you’re really focused on the story.
AG: That was one of the reasons why we chose Rachael’s first was because she addressed me specifically twice in it. We liked her breaking the fourth wall. It just showed how real it was, and that it wasn’t a rehearsed or scripted type thing.
WH: Going along with that, I love the releasing strategy that you’ve had for these first few episodes because it’s definitely set the tone for what people can expect [from the show] and how it can surprise them.
AG: Yeah, I think that’s why we put so much time into figuring out what the first three were going to be. There were so many different ways it could have gone, like if we had started with Matt Waters and then followed it up with anything else that wasn’t serious, I don’t know if the show would have worked anymore, because people now would have been expecting something serious. Or some of them that are coming are super ridiculously laugh-out-loud funny, and if you start with one of those, then you have a cute story like Rachael’s, then you don’t want people saying, “Oh, this one wasn’t as good.” It’s not about being good or bad, they’re all their own thing. So ultimately we decided to start with something that’s really basic and cute so that it can go anywhere from here. And then we did one that was more funny, and any time you have something with bodily functions, the majority of people find that to be hilarious for whatever reason. And then we hit with Matt, and as soon as we posted it, we just waited and it was so fun that whole weekend watching people respond and how much it bothered them.
WH: I read that news article about it, and I wish I hadn’t read it, you know?
AG: Yeah, and we only did it to combat the people that were claiming that it wasn’t real, and it was like, “Alright, here you go. It’s real.” And most people go and quickly delete their comments.
WH: So can I please ask you some questions about Holliston? Like how exciting is it just that it’s coming back?
AG: Yes, it is, and normally I don’t like to announce things until we’re already shooting them because so much stuff can go wrong and can happen. I mean especially with this show, and what we’ve been through in the past two years. But now that we know that we are doing it and we are coming back, and even more above all that, is that I’m now ready to do it again. Because we had opportunities to continue the show, but just the whole Dave [Brockie] dying thing, and it’s such a personal show, I just couldn’t do it. Because I had to change everything. That show was planned out for six seasons at one point, and now, not everything, I guess, but a lot of things changed. I was just so depressed and angry that he’s gone, and it just wasn’t going to be good, so I would say no. But now enough time has passed, and when the four us sat down and actually read through some of the material that I’ve written so far for season three, we were laughing. The beauty of that show, based on the reaction from fans, has always been the heart. Of course people like the cameos and the horror references and they love seeing the guest stars make themselves look ridiculous and all that stuff, but the letters that we get and when we do conventions and the things that people have to say, it’s always been more about the heart and how much they appreciate horror fans being represented as real people with real feelings and not just a supporting character, or a psycho, or a weird person.
WH: Someone to make fun of in the background.
AG: Yeah. That’s something that a lot of reviews and a lot of fans have said that that’s their problem with The Big Bang Theory, is that they feel like geeks are being characterized and made fun of. I never got that out of that show, I actually think that show is very well made and very well done, and clearly it’s a huge success. But there were a few reviews about Holliston that would say, “Unlike Big Bang Theory, these aren’t the typical caricatures of horror fans written by somebody whose not really a horror fan, but thinks that they have us nailed.” When we did the Christmas special, that was a big gamble because it was very emotional and sad and it was like a tearjerker, and that’s the show that I always wanted to make. I think with season one, there was a lot of friction between the network and myself where whenever I would have moments of heart, they would get very apprehensive about it and just say, “This is not what horror fans want to see, save that for something else and try to take the heart out of it.” And I was like, “I think you’re wrong, I really think you’re wrong.” And the response proved that we could make the show we wanted to make. I think going through what I’ve gone through personally over the past two years, as the sole writer of the show, I don’t want the show to now become overly sappy or sad or anything like that, which is another reason why I felt like I had to wait. Obviously, I’m going to have to address Dave’s absence and that’s going to be very hard, but then the show will go on and I think the heart will be even clearer, if that makes any sense. Because when you go through something that traumatizing, which I almost feel stupid saying it, but the fact that I made it almost 40 years without experiencing death. I had two grandfathers who died, but I was 2 and 8, and I couldn’t comprehend it. So this was the first time that it was somebody that I was that incredibly close with, and then the fact that I had to deal with it publicly at the same time, which was awful, and my wife leaves me the week after he died–nothing could get worse, it seemed. But I think there is a positive way to use all of that and be a better writer. So I’m excited for what we’re going to do with season three. Right now, as we said, the plan is that the show will be offered on GeekNation. Because the podcast was really just a spin-off of the TV show and originally we were just going to do it for the 10 weeks that season two was airing, which is why those first ten episodes are very Holliston-heavy, and we just thought it would be extra promotion, and if people listened, great, if not, so what, and that would be it. But then the podcast became this huge thing, and it’s like, wait a minute, [we have] half a million listeners a week. If we did the show and we had it here and everybody could watch it at the same time–because that was the problem the first time. I think this plan really makes sense, and the show’s mainly going to be financed through sponsorship, because sponsors, they just want to know how many eyeballs are seeing it, so it’s not necessarily about how much people are paying for it. It’s tricky and it’s hard because most sponsors don’t actually want to give you that money until the week the thing is going to air, or they want it to air first and they want to see how it’s doing and then they’ll adjust their sponsorship accordingly, but we need those sponsorships before we can make the show. Thankfully all that stuff is falling into place. Since the announcement was made on the Internet, it was so amazing to see how excited people were, I mean it was just incredible. There was definitely a point where I really felt like it was probably over and I was just holding onto something that I should probably let go of for my own sanity and my own health, but I’m just not very good at that, so now here we are again.
AG: I know! Someone on set had said that day, because you know the crew doesn’t see the scripts so they don’t know what’s going to happen until they see us do it, and so the last five minutes of season two, the whole crew was like, “What are you doing?! How are you going to…what?!” And I’m like, “No, it’s all planned out.” Joe knows what’s going to happen because he and I beat out the storylines and the character arcs, and then I go and write all the episodes, but the girls don’t know and we purposely don’t tell them because it’s just more fun that way. One of the best moments of each season is the first rehearsal when I hand out these 1,000 page bibles and then we just sit there, and it usually takes like six or seven hours, but we just read through all the scripts out loud for the first time and that’s when they find out what’s going to happen. So with season two, first Corri and Laura are crying over the Christmas special and when we got to the end of the season, they were just devastated. I was like, “Just trust me, I have a plan, I know exactly what I’m doing.” And then all this shit happens. Even if we only make one more episode, which people kept saying that: “Can’t you just do one more to wrap it up?” But to build all those sets, it’s a very involved production, so if you’re gonna do one episode, you might as well do ten.
WH: So any teases maybe about what’s going to be happening?
AG: The only teases I can really give, I mean like I’ve already said that Oderus will not be replaced, there’s not going to be somebody else from GWAR in the closet, there’s not going to be a different imaginary friend. I’m going to handle it and then the door will stay closed and that will be it. And I know fans mean well when they keep just chiming in with suggestions, like get Alice Cooper or get this one–you can’t do that. You can’t replace Dave, you can’t. Technically even if you could, if GWAR was like, “Use the costume and just get an impersonator.” I don’t want that, I couldn’t deal with it. The whole cast was very close with Dave but I’m the one who had all my scenes with him and he was my guardian angel, not just in the fantasy world on the show but even in real life, he was very much a mentor to me in terms of my passion to pursue something creative that wasn’t necessarily mainstream and that not everybody was going to get. So anyway, he’s not going to be replaced, and at the end of season two, the cable station was closed and Lance Rockett lost his job. I don’t want to give anything away, but obviously Lance is still going to be a part of the show, in fact his part is going to be a little bit bigger now, that’s one of the things I’m doing to address Dave’s absence. Now Lance is going to go through a midlife crisis where he starts second-guessing his whole lifestyle, everything he’s into, and trying on some different personalities out of desperation to find his way. So there’s going to be a lot of comedy in that, and I know Dee [Snider] is very excited about what I told him so far about what his character is going to do. I don’t know if there’s much else I can say without spoiling anything. I mean, things are pretty dire at the end of season two, and at the end of season three, they’re going to be 100 times worse.
AG: [Laughs] And that’s the thing, people only want to see us win, and if they win there’s no more show. There’s so much stuff that I purposely haven’t addressed yet. If you’ve noticed so far on the show, there’s never been a problem between Adam and Joe. They’re always in sync, you know it’s a little bit like The Odd Couple where Adam is a bit more realistic and Joe is just like whatever, it’ll work out, you’ll figure it out. But we can’t just keep trying to make the same short film over and over again, we have to start moving forward with that, and that just opens up a whole world of other problems, so I’m really looking forward to that stuff. Joe’s had dramatic scenes with Laura, I’ve had dramatic scenes with Corri and with Oderus, but he and I have yet to really share the spotlight and have to face something dramatic with each other. So season three is going to build to that and I’m really looking forward to it because I think it’s something that everybody who’s ever had a friend can instantly relate to it and has been there, so that’s really exciting. As excited as the fans are that now it seems like Adam and Corri are finally going to be together–maybe that’s going to work out, maybe it won’t. And I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that at some point in the season Laura is going to come back from Germany, because obviously we’re not going to get rid of Laura. But how many people actually thought we were?! I’m not nuts, like would Seinfeld have gotten rid of Kramer in season three? You don’t do that. So she will come back at some point. Yeah, you want to talk about somebody who was pissed–when she read the last page of season two, she was really upset! But that’s really it, that’s all I can say. There was so much stuff planned with Oderus, because he was a joke through most of it, even though within his bad advice, there was a way for Adam to find the path. But what I was building towards, and unfortunately I have to just move right into it now, that there were several times in season two where he says “Why can’t you just figure this out for yourself?” or just really being such an asshole towards me about stuff. But what I was building towards was the fact that at some point, Adam is going to have to grow up and start dealing with things instead of running to his imaginary friend to help him. So there was a huge thing that supposed to happen with that–in fact, he [Oderus] was supposed to leave the show at the end of season three.
AG: The reveal at the end of season three was going to be that he was never really my friend, he was there because he was hiding because he upset them on his planet, and at the end of season three, they find him and take him away to kill him. So that was part of the cliffhanger at the end of season three and then season four was how I was going to deal with that. Dave was never on board with that storyline, like he was so pissed that there was ever going to be an episode that he wasn’t in. But I told him the whole thing and how it would all pan out and he was really excited about it, but that’s all obviously gone. And it’s hard to give a character a proper exit on a show when you don’t have them there to do it, and you don’t want to start doing body doubles or voiceovers, and I think one of the things that I have going for me that most shows don’t is that we do break the fourth wall a lot on the show, and so there’s no reason why the farewell to Dave can’t be 100% percent real, and not something that’s written and meant to have the audience laughing and stuff. I think people are going to be really happy with it. I’ve spoken to his family and they know what I’m going to do and everybody’s very happy about it, so that’s all I care about. But that’s one of the things, whatever I do it’s either going to be too much or too little, or not enough, so I’m just doing what I think is best and what the cast thinks is best, so it’ll happen and that will be it.
WH: I think whatever you do, it’s going to be great and it’s going to be respectful and the fans are really going to enjoy it.
AG: He just wouldn’t want some big, drawn-out, sappy thing, like he would be so pissed if I did that. If anything, he’s probably just so pissed that he’s not here right now. It’s definitely weird, but at least now, the cast has had so much time to mourn this that now it’s more about telling the funny stories and stuff. But to be completely honest, I am still a little bit worried about writing this next season because I’ll be on a tear and everything’s going great and then something happens. Two or three weeks ago we had to start doing inventory on all the props, and the stage, and the sets and everything, and Arwen [Adam’s dog] was just scratching at this one box. When we opened the box, it was [Oderus’s] Spooky Dan bear. In episode nine of season two, he threatens to move out because he feels like I take him for granted, and the only thing he’s bringing with him is Spooky Dan bear, which is this big teddy bear. And whenever we wrapped, everyone on the cast always asked for one thing. And you have to hold onto that stuff because you’re gonna use it again and if you let somebody leave with it, you don’t know what’s going to happen to it. But the one thing that Dave wanted was Spooky Dan bear. And I was like, “Okay you can take it but you can’t let this get wrecked, can’t let it get stolen, it has to be this bear.” and he was like “Dude, you can trust me, you can trust me,” and then he promptly forgot it in his dressing room when he moved out of his dressing room and so that’s what was in the box. It was weird that Arwen knew that there was something about that box, and so when they pulled it out, I was relieve that a) I have Spooky Dan bear again, and b) that it was just good to see it again. Then I hug it, and my friend Robert who was doing inventory with me, just kind of freezes and I’m like, “What?” And he says, “Look at the back of it.” And the whole back of it is stained with all of Dave’s grease paint from the costume, you know Oderus has painted on abs and, so in the scene he’s holding it against himself so he had sweat all over it. It’s one thing when you find an object that’s associated with somebody who passed away, but when it still has their sweat on it, it’s like it’s not real that they’re gone. So I haven’t written since, but I’ll get through it and keep going. But that’s one of the good things about the fact that we do have time before we shoot, because everybody is on other projects anyway so the earliest we could possibly shoot would be January or February so we have time. I’m not rushing it. Even if it’s two more weeks before I can write, that’s okay.
WH: Well, with all this stuff that you’ve got going on, I’m excited to see everything that you’ve got coming up in the future.
AG: Thank you. Thank you very, very much. Thank you for writing about Horrified!, I really appreciate it. We’re excited. We’ve got a lot of work to do, but it’s fun work so that’s good.
You can now watch the newest episode of Horrified! with cinematographer Will Barratt at ArieScope.com! Check it out!