Exclusive: Adam Green Talks Sid Haig!
Back in 2017 Sid Haig and publisher Brian Steward started working on an issue of Fantasm Presents all about Sid and his career. Sid and Brian logged many hours of phone interviews preparing for the magazine.
The plan was to create a book that would cover all aspects of Sid's career, to interview other actors and filmmakers that Sid had worked with and include some articles about some of his films. The hours upon hours of interview sessions with Sid were to be edited down into a regular-length interview and be the centerpiece of the book.
When Sid passed, Brian shelved the issue. A few months ago, Brian's wife, our Managing Editor, Vickie started transcribing the audio. She convinced Brian to reconsider releasing this issue. The problem was that the interview sessions weren't finished. Even with so many hours logged, there were many more films and television shows to cover. When we finally published, we chose to create a book filled with our interview sessions with Sid, allowing him to tell his story in his own words cover to cover. This meant all the other content, including interviews and articles about his films, had to be left out.
This interview, conducted with Adam Green in July of 2018, was to be included in the original vision of the Sid Haig issue. We didn't feel it deserved to sit unreleased, so we've decided to share it here, on the site.
As you probably know, Green is the creator of not only films like Frozen and Digging Up The Marrow, but also the brilliant TV comedy Holliston, and, of course, the extremely successful Hatchet franchise. With these films, Green has done something almost impossible in the current environment of a constant barrage of completely forgettable indy horror films.... he created a new horror icon, Victor Crowley, played by horror icon Kane Hodder. The Hatchet films are loaded with everything that made us fall in love with the '80s slasher films of our youth: A fun story, a memorable villain, a little nudity, tacky jokes and gore... lots and lots of gore. Not to mention, the films are loaded with nods to those films of our youth in the way of tons of awesome cameos from some of horror's biggest stars such as Robert Englund, Tony Todd, Caroline Williams, R.A. Mahailoff, Tom Holland and of course, Sid Haig.
FANTASM: What was your first exposure to Sid, or when did Sid first expose himself to you?
ADAM GREEN: (laughs) Well, I was walking down Hollywood Blvd. and...no, the first time I remember actually putting together who Sid Haig was, was when I saw House of 1000 Corpses, which was so late in his career. I remember, he was wearing the clown makeup. The whole time, I'm like, “I know that guy, who is that guy, who is that guy?” And then you start to realize, “Oh, he's in everything.” Literally everything. Every time you're watching Nick at Nite or TV Land or some old show, he shows up. It doesn't matter what show it is, he's there and he's so specific there's nobody else that looks like him, as I'm sure he'd tell you that has been a blessing and a curse. For the longest time, he always had to be the bad guy because he looked different. But in the Rob Zombie films, House of 1000 Corpses and especially The Devil's Rejects, and watching Sid finally being able to carry a movie, not that you didn't have Moseley and Sheri throwing down as well, but that was the first time you actually got to see a Sid Haig film and not Sid in a movie. That was when I really started to become obsessed. I really wanted to see everything I could find about him. Then the first time I actually met Sid, we were doing a screening of Holliston at USC. Normally those are just for students. We've done it with every film we've made, where the school invites you to come and show the movie and do a Q&A. They're usually great nights because you have a theater full of film students who have really good questions. At some point when the screening was getting ready to start, Joe Lynch nudged me and said., “Did you see Sid Haig? He's in the audience.” And I was like, “No.” There's nobody else that looks like Sid Haig. It was definitely him. I'm like, “That's so weird. He must think this is something else.” (laughs) We show the show and afterwards when we start the Q&A, he raises his hand first and he says, “Earlier when you were speaking, you said that you hope that you get to make more seasons of this show because you have more that you want to say. And I'm telling you that with what I just saw, as far as I'm concerned, you can make this show till the end of time, for as long as you want.” And he stood up and walked out. Sid doesn't move very quickly and the whole place just waited for him to, “Excuse me, excuse me, excuse me,” through the audience and leave and then as soon as the door closed, I literally said into the mic, “Is he gone?” Somebody in the audience said, “Yeah.” And I freaked out. I was like, “Do you know who that was? That was fucking Sid Haig! Holy shit!” and just fanboyed out. He had heard about it and came on his own because he wanted to see the show and was a fan of my work. He never asked for a thing. He's not one of those actors that you meet at a convention and he starts telling you you're the greatest thing ever because they're doing that to every filmmaker there because they want to get hired. He just legitimately was a fan of it. For a guy of his caliber to do that, to go to USC and sit with all those fans just to see something and then to say that, of course I was like, “We're writing him a role. There's no way we're not.” That really is what began my friendship with him. Such an amazing moment, one of those pinch yourself things. It was like, “Wow! Somebody like that even knows who I am or what I do and came to see it?” It was very special.
FANTASM: I don't think Sid really sees himself as somebody like that, as special.
GREEN: He comes from a class of actors that are my favorite to work with. Every chance that I get to work with, for lack of a better term, an older more veteran actor, character actors, people like Sid Haig or Richard Riehle, they love acting. It was a different time then, whereas a lot of the younger people that you meet, no offense to the younger cast that I've worked with because I certainly don't mean all of them, but they want to be famous. There's a difference between wanting to be an actor and wanting to be famous.
FANTASM: Oh. Sure.
GREEN: A lot of young people, they're in it for the wrong reasons. I think when you have a look like Sid, you never have delusions of grandeur that you're going to be Tom Cruise or you're going to be on the cover of Tiger Beat or whatever it was at the time.
FANTASM: I've always wanted to be on the cover of Tiger Beat, dude.
GREEN: Who doesn't? People always make fun of New Kids on the Block or One Direction. I'm like, “You mean to tell me,if they came calling for you and said, 'We're going to put you in this thing and every guy alive is going to call you names but every woman alive is going to want to sleep with you,' you'd say, 'No'?”
FANTASM: I would still totally listen to Nuclear Assault and Slayer in my free time and be up there bebopping around onstage taking in the cash.
GREEN: Exactly! The bad boy in the band is wearing the Death shirt. (laughs) But yeah, Sid, he comes from the Lucille Ball era of being a performer.
FANTASM: Yeah, he was actually on her show twice, two different shows of hers.
GREEN: He wants a good role and the fact that at a certain point in his career, he basically walked away because he said, “I'm tired of being the heavy, so until somebody gives me a role, I don't want to do it anymore. I don't want to be Thug #2, I don't want to be the burning bad guy standing behind the Joker, I'm done.” So that was a bold move and thankfully it worked. Between guys like Tarantino and Rob Zombie, people recognized just how special he was.
FANTASM: Yeah, for sure. You were talking about actors from times before, the older guys, and I've gotten to know Sid pretty well and I know Clu Gulager as well. A lot of the things you were saying, I thought of Clu. These are the guys that have worked with everybody and they're the ones that you would think would have to delusions of grandeur and they're just happy to work. They're working for the sake of the work, not for the sake of being seen working.
GREEN: Happy to work and who still love cinema. I know people my own age who have been in the business only 15 or 20 years and they're already so disenchanted by it that they hate it. They don't go to movies, they don't go to screenings or to hear people speak. They have no desire. If they have some free time, they want to do anything but. At least back when the New Beverly was still in its heydey, Clu Gulager was there every single night. It didn't matter what was playing, Clu was there. If I had one of my films playing there, that was the most exciting part, knowing that Clu would be sitting right in the front.
FANTASM: Clu loves that stuff. He has got the most insane sense of humor of anybody I've ever known, at any age. He totally gets that shit, you know?
GREEN: He loves it. When you see him clap at the end, it didn't matter that the rest of the audience was clapping. I haven't had to experience the rest of the audience booing, but if Clu liked it, you knew you were doing something that was worth making.
FANTASM: Absolutely. Working with Sid, was it everything you hoped it would be? It probably was, but I'm going to ask the question anyway.
GREEN: I've had the wonderful pleasure of, you know when people say don't meet your heroes, every single person that I have ever looked up to at this point, I have met and become friends with or worked with, all but maybe two, which would be like Stephen Spielberg and George Lucas. I haven't worked with them, I've had the chance to meet them, but I wanted to wait until it was on the level. But you get kind of nervous on that first day because you're like, “Man, this person has worked with everybody, they've worked with a much bigger budget.” But they don't care about that. The older generation understands that once you say yes to role, that's it. You don't need to worry about what you're getting paid again. You don't need to bring it up every five minutes, which a lot of younger people tend to do. My comeback is always, “Oh, you should have taken that other thing you were offered.” “I wasn't offered anything else.” Then shut the fuck up! Be glad that you're working. (laughs) It doesn't matter what the budget is, as long as Sid believes in you and he can tell that everyone there knows what they're doing, that there is a plan and everyone there is being courteous and professional, he will give you 400%. The first time I got to work with him was on Holliston, which was a very kind of small role. He was playing himself, a terrible version of himself but it was like he had been part of the cast since day one. He was also on Hatchet III. He only had to work one night on that to shoot his scene, and a lot of people don't realize that his scene had to be shot in my office, his house and everything was shot in here, even the outside of it. The doors, the doorway. It was great to have him come here and just kill it. He knows his lines, he knows his marks, even the Halloween shorts that we do every year for fun, the whole point of those is no budget, one night, whatever we get. He asked to do one. A guy like Sid does not need to be doing short films for fun, but he wanted to be part of it. I think, even more so than a lot of people, very quickly after the first scene he did, he became part of the family here at ArieScope because we have a stable of cast and crew that we always use on everything whenever we can. He was immediately part of that. FANTASM: I have to go back to his role in Hatchet III. I absolutely love the way it was written, as so Archie Bunker-y.
GREEN: Yeah, All in the Family is my favorite show of all time and we need that show again right now. We need that show more than anything so that we can laugh at the absurdity of a character like that and discuss it. When All in the Family was on, that show was brilliant and it was such a great way of making fun in a loving way, of that type of close-minded person. So writing that role, I knew that the character of Abbott MacMullen was going to have a lot of issues. I didn't know how far I was going to go with that until I actually started typing. But once I knew Sid was going to play the character, especially because he's the type of actor that can say anything and get away with it because he's Sid. Fantasm Presents #5: A Tribute To Sid Haig - The Final Interview Sessions is available HERE