Horror Icon Mini-Marathon: Adam Green
Usually, horror filmmakers end up descending into the work-for-hire world of television direction after their career has waned a bit and the studios are no longer calling. In the case of Adam Green, he began in television, made his segue to the big screen, and used that clout to go back to television for the most popular work of his career.
Adam Green directed a comedy film called “Coffee & Donuts,” about two friends working at a radio station, which was picked up to be turned into a pilot at UPN. The pilot would eventually be completely reworked and turned into “Holliston,” the FearNet series starring Green and filmmaker friend Joe Lynch.
Though he might now be more well-known for appearing on that show, his career had positioned him in the last few years as one of a handful of young, exciting filmmakers that were both paying homage to classic horror films and breaking out in bold new ways.
Aside from producing the incredibly creepy pregnancy horror film “Grace,” Green also directed one of the anthology segments in the horror-comedy film “Chillerama.” His segment, “The Diary of Anne Frankenstein,” reteams him with Joel David Moore, who has worked with him on two of his more well-known theatrical horror releases.
The future of the “Holliston” TV series is unsure, and while we may miss the series, it will be a relief to know that Green will have more time on his hands to create a few more films to add to a resume that currently stands as nearly flawless.
Adam Green’s first big hit in the horror arena is a love note to the deformed killer films of the 1980’s, in particular the “Friday the 13th” series (he even casts Kane Hodder, everyone’s favorite Jason Voorhees, as the villainous Victor Crowley). A cast of game actors including Joel David Moore, Robert Englund, and Tony Todd venture into the bayous of Louisiana for a haunted tour, only to find out that something much more real than a ghost is going to be plaguing them. Shocking deaths, unexpected comedy, and fun cameos from recognizable genre regulars like Richard Riehle and Joshua Leonard make this film a retrofitted classic 1980’s film intended to remind jaded modern viewers that there was something special about the era and the style.
A Hitchcockian observation of loneliness and paranoia, “Spiral” reteams Green with Joel David Moore, who this time co-writes and co-directs the film. The story, about a reclusive man dealing with the aftermath of a failed relationship through a new friend at work, is simple in its set-up, but great performances from Moore, Amber Tamblyn, and a pre-“Chuck” Zachary Levi elevate what could have been a low-budget yawnfest into a clever and twisty film reminiscent of Aranofsky’s early work.
This film is a true accomplishment: with only three lead characters for most of the running time, and the single location for the last hour of the film being a ski lift stuck in the night sky, Green really made a challenge for himself in being able to maintain interest and suspense. He more than delivered, creating this taut film about three friends whose minor bickering is stopped in its tracks when they become stranded on a ski lift at the beginning of a long weekend with bad weather coming in. The film uses realistic fears to create unbelievable tension, and there are moments of pure gut-wrenching discomfort when the trio decides they can’t wait for help and they have to take matters into their own hands. A film that Hitchcock would have been proud to make in his day (and which might stand nicely alongside his other works like “Rope” and “Lifeboat”), Green showed his true gifts as not just a humorous gorehound, but a skilled filmmaker and tension manipulator.