Interview: AJ Bowen From ‘Hatchet II’

Hatchet II hits theaters today. Just in time for Halloween, and in my opinion the campiest and goriest film I’ve ever seen. But it’s the perfect time of year for such a flick, so I was thrilled to be able to speak with AJ Bowen (who stars as Layton) earlier this week. After checking out a press screening a few days before, I had several questions for Bowen. The first one naturally being what was his reaction to those gory and ‘unique’ death scenes when he first saw the script.

“Unique is certainly one way to put it.” Bowen laughed, “I’m friends with the director Adam Green. And when you’re friends with people who make movies, you’re always looking for a project you can work on together. He called me into the office, we talked for a little bit and he asked me if I’d like to play the part of Layton. The script wasn’t written yet, but he said ‘I was thinking of you for this. I want to write this with you in mind.'”

Bowen was humbled and told Green that it would be great. But was he a little surprised with some of his character’s scenes? “Flash forward now that you’ve seen the movie. He wrote a part where I do some dirty things and then I get decapitated, so I don’t know what that says about what he thinks of me as a person.” Bowen joked. “Having seen Hatchet, I was absolutely prepared for what it was that he was doing. But I didn’t know how they were going to pull of the gags. It’s not like they had a 100 million dollars, so I was really surprised they were able to do some of the things they did.”

As was I. There was a massive amount of gore in the film, and the grossing the viewer out starts as early as the first frame of the movie. Which makes you wonder, even though the film is unrated, was there anything that director Adam Green couldn’t get away with, because it was just too much?

“Anything that Adam wanted, he got to do. In terms of things that were too gory, the whole movie was.” Bowen explained, “The MPAA was asking for him to cut entire scenes.”

Green already had a pre-distrubtion deal though, and wanted to be able to deliver the film with a rating. The solution? Simple. Have the film be unrated.

“They [the distributor] were really supportive, and AMC Theaters was really supportive. They said ‘You know what? Don’t worry about it. Don’t edit it at all. Have it be the movie that you want. Disregard the MPAA, and go for an unrated film.'” Bowen revealed, “It’s the first time a movie is coming out in mainstream theaters that’s showing at regular times, I think, in 25 years.”

And the fact that it is unrated is what really sets the film apart from the other horror/slasher films that will be coming out this month. “There are plenty of movies that have way more insane subject matter and way more mean-spirited violence than Hatchet, but because it’s a comedy the MPAA doesn’t get it.” Bowen explained, “So it’s nice that we’re getting to put something out that time of year that is completely the director’s vision. It’s completely the story that you’re trying to tell.”

But the unrated element and the creative/disturbing/horrifying death scenes are not the only thing that sets this film apart in Bowen’s opinion. It’s also a true independent film. “Lots of times people hear the word the independent and they don’t realize that a major studio is actually backing the film, promoting it and marketing it. So they can put in 20 million dollars on a $11,000 movie to promote, and then it becomes a success story.” Bowen commented, “This one is truly, uniquely independently funded.”

When I asked Bowen to describe the film for me in three words, his answer couldn’t have been more right on in my opinion. Over-the-top. Well said, Mr. Bowen. Well said.

What’s next for this Atlanta area native? Bowen has a couple films in post-production right now, just secured distribution for another film called A Horrible Way To Die (which isn’t a horror film. It’s a thriller/love story Bowen told me), and he’ll be coming back to Georgia next year to produce and star in a movie that he wrote called Scallywags.

Interview/Article By: Emma Loggins

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