Hatchet (2006)/ Hatchet II (2010)

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Hatchet (pitcured) – An enjoyable, gory and fairly silly throwback to the real high (or low, depending on your taste) point of slasher flicks, Hatchet crafts it’s own little legend rather nicely and sketches everything out deftly enough to move on to the next major death scene. Fans of subtle scares and psychological horror need not look here but if you yearn for the heady days when you were eagerly awaiting your next bodycount flick courtesy of any number of machete-wielding maniacs (with big Jason being their top man) then this movie is for you.

A couple of young lads (Ben, played by Joel Moore, and Marcus, played by Deon Richmond) end up on a cheesy “haunted swamp” tour because Ben is in New Orleans trying to keep his mind of the ex-girlfriend who broke his heart. The tour is run by young Shawn (Parry Shen) and it quickly becomes clear that he’s only trying to bluff his way through things to keep their money and to then drop them off, unharmed and most likely unfrightened, at the end. The other tour patrons try to amuse themselves as they tour the swamp but one girl, Marybeth (Tamara Feldman), seems particularly stressed out and seems to know an awful lot about the area for a gullible tourist. She also knows all about the local legend of Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder), a disfigured and pained spirit said to haunt the area and to kill those who cross his path.

Writer-director Adam Green sets out his stall from the outset and welcomes in all of those who care to go along for the ride. Everyone else is free to leave before the harnesses are fastened and the locks are secured.

Hatchet is not a movie about any major ethical dilemma or moral conundrum, it’s not a twist on genre conventions or a post-modern restructuring of the slasher flick a la Scream. Nope, Hatchet is an all-out, loud and proud, uncomplicated gorefest with copious amounts of blood being sprayed around with complete abandon, gratuitous nudity when it can be shoehorned in and a backstory that provides the kind of satisfactory origin tale we have seen in Friday The 13th, The Burning and any multitude of late 70s – 80s horror movies.

The acting is pretty good all round and everyone gets to have fun. The banter between Moore and Richmond is great, Parry Shen is hilarious as the guy trying to make a quick buck, there are a couple of wannabe porn starlets bitching each other with more venom than braincells and a few others just happy to watch what’s unfolding. Tony Todd has an amusing cameo and Kane Hodder gets some screen time without makeup as well as just playing his disfigured killer character.

Not for all horror fans, I personally found this nice and refreshing due to the mix of comedy and gore and the way that it had fun throughout while not holding back on the insane carnage.

Film Rating: ★★★½☆

Hatchet II – Following on immediately from the events of Hatchet, this sequel sees all of the surviving characters returning with only one major change as a leading role is taken this time round by Danielle Harris (and, with the greatest respect to other actresses and actors, just what kind of horror fan is ever going to think that the inclusion of Danielle Harris isn’t a good thing?).

This time around we get a little bit more information on the birth and early life of Hatchet/Victor Crowley and find out that some of the locals were there on the night that a fire led to the hatchet accident that killed our killer. Reverend Zombie (Tony Todd returning for a larger chunk of the screentime) thinks that the secret to killing Crowley once ad for all is to let him have his revenge on those who caused his death but that’s not what he tells the locals. He instead offers a large bounty for the head of the infamous figure and lures people towards their fates that way. However things pan out, it’s pretty clear that if anyone survives it may not be in one piece.

It’s Adam Green in both the writer and director’s chair for this sequel to his entertaining first horror flick and he continues to get enough right to keep fans entertained. The premise, overall, isn’t as much fun and things are stretched even further than they were in the first film (but isn’t that often the way with most sequels?) but for what the movie doesn’t do quite as well as it’s predecessor it more than makes up for with it’s barrage of nasty and insane kills.

As well as Tony Todd and Danielle Harris (and Kane Hodder back again, of course) we get director Tom Holland (of Child’s Play and Fright Night fame) onscreen for a decent amount of time and he doesn’t do too badly in the acting department.

I believe that many horror fans, including myself, found their anticipation of this sequel growing when it was released unrated for only a few days before AMC pulled it from their cinema chains and it became a strange kind of totem around which many could show their support for independent horror. Did it deserve the treatment it received? Did the negative mishandling of the film actually gain it a lot more talk time and notoriety than it would otherwise have managed to achieve? I’d say no to the former and yes to the latter. There IS a lot of blood and nasty gore on display here but it’s so over the top and entertainingly loony that I’m surprised it caused such a furore (relatively minor, in the grand scheme of things, but a furore is a furore is a furore). At least it does actually deliver what you may have heard in advance so it’s a success in it’s own little way and the two Hatchet movies together will make for a fun double-bill for the horror fan who likes buckets full of blood thrown around in his horror movies.

Film Rating: ★★★½☆

DIRECTOR: ADAM GREEN
STARS: JOEL MOORE, DEON RICHMOND, TAMARA FELDAN, KANE HODDER, TONY TODD, PARRY SHEN, DANIELLE HARRIS
RUNTIME: 85 MINS APPROX/89 MINS APPROX
COUNTRY: USA

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