As new master of horror Adam Green prepares to release his second feature in 2010—Hatchet II, the sequel to his 2006 cult horror hit—he takes a moment to reflect on the five rules of the slasher film.

1) Have a villain with a simple, scary and sympathetic mythology. All of the greatest slasher villains had “campfire” style legends to go with them that even the most passive horror fan could comprehend and recite. But the ones that became iconic all had a level of sympathy to them that the audience could also identify with; a reason why the villain did what they did or a wrongdoing that put them into their predicament. If your villain is just a bad guy, maybe the horror fans will go along for the ride on a film or two. But if your villain is a bad guy that the audience also has a shred of sympathy for, now you’re looking at a franchise full of kills that the fans will be cheering and applauding like crazy.

2) Give the slasher fans what they want. While the rule of “less is more” can be applied to most every style of horror, with the slasher genre the diehard fans are paying to see some slashing. Give them the red stuff and give it to them in ways that take it to another level and exceed their expectations. In Hatchet 1, Victor Crowley sanded a girl’s lower jaw off with a belt-sander, and while that had the fans excited, it was when he then took the same girl and impaled her down a shovel handle slowly… that the fans were cheering.

3. Treat the audience as part of the soundtrack. With a great slasher film comes an even greater vocal reaction from the audience. Keep in mind that if you do your job right, you’ll have people clapping, cheering, laughing or screaming. You need to leave room in your film for those moments so that nobody misses anything. In TV sitcoms we call it a “laugh spread.” In the Hatchet films, I like to call it a “gore spread.” Give the crowd a chance to enjoy it and react. That communal experience is a huge part of the fun.

4. Don’t be pretentious. You’re making a slasher movie. Forget about your aspirations of getting great reviews from mainstream press or winning an Oscar on live television. If you’re not making a slasher movie because you love it, then don’t make it at all. These movies are all about good old American fun and violence, so if you can’t take the fact that you’re inevitably going to get trashed by the press and if you actually care what the “critics” have to say about your work… then turn in your chainsaw and get out of my haunted swamp.

5. Show some respect. The fans watching your slasher movie have seen all of the ones that came before it. As much as you might be doing some wonderfully original and unique things with your film, no matter how you slice it, you are not reinventing the wheel. So remember and appreciate the greats who stood in those blood-soaked shoes before you and don’t be afraid to wear your love on your sleeve a little here or there in your film.

Hatchet II, starring Danielle Harris, is in theaters now. For more information, visit