The Gore, the Merrier: “Hatchet” Review

The Story: Ben and Marcus party it up with some friends for Mardi Gras. Being reminded of his ex by any half naked lady he lays eyes upon, Ben talks Marcus into leaving the streets of New Orleans to go on a haunted late night boat ride, hosted by a scammer that has more accents than C3PO knows languages. During the ride on gator-infested waters, the boat gets hung up on a rock, forcing the passengers to go walking in the woods to look for help. Little do they know these woods belong to a fierce local legend.

As a boy, Victor Crowley was taunted by bullies, and even set on fire. Trying to rescue his son from their burning house, Mr. Crowley sends a hatchet through the entrance door right into Victor’s mongoloid head, leaving him for dead. Ten years later, Mr. Crowley dies of a broken heart. However, people frequently go missing in these backwoods. Perhaps the local legend of a hatchet-faced maniac is true…

For once, the tagline does say it all: “Old School American Horror”. That is exactly what Hatchet strives to be and fully succeeds. Take The Burning, Pumpkinhead and a bunch of films from the Friday the 13th franchise (many scenes are extremely close to many different F13 films), put ’em in a mixer and pour yourself a big ass glass of Hatchet. Now, while it in no way adds anything new to the camp-slasher genre, it certainly breathes some life back into it, and it definitely in its short life already warrants fair debate over whether or not it’s one of the best of the lot; I think it is.

Adam Green is at the helm as writer and director, and not only is Hatchet a gore fest of epic proportions, it’s also got a smart story, likeable characters, and uses elements from some faves from the late 70’s and 80’s. You got the old local drunk (only in Hatchet, he drinks his own piss) that tries to warn the youngsters. You got more tits than you can shake a stick at (at least 15 breast flashes in the opening Mardi Gras credits!), a bad ass soundtrack that pays mad honor to the slashers of yesteryear; a horror maven in charge of make up effects, and a hell of a lot more. However, this is not the typical “You do drugs or screw or both and you die” slasher, it is more or less the “You are on my turf, you fucking die!” slasher.

Don’t get too excited about genre cameos, though; they are few and far between. Robert Englund is almost a blink and miss character (he does have some relevance), Tony Todd is somewhat embarrassing, John Carl Buechler is the local piss drinking drunkard, but Kane Hodder is the one that sticks out. Here he plays the roles of Mr. Crowley and badass deformed maniac, Victor Crowley. Hodder gives this disgusting character so much life that it’s easily plausible for Victor Crowley to be blessing the horror genre with at least one more insane appearance. It is Kane’s best work since Friday the 13th 7: The New Blood.

Many viewers are not going into this looking for Oscar worthy effectiveness, but acting is above the standard, for the most part. The performances come off as cheesy on purpose, and the comedy is filled to the brim with wit, making any scene lacking carnage just as enjoyable. You get to know most of the members on the haunted boat ride fairly well. Some of them you will love, while others will have you counting the seconds until they are discarded. Ben (Joel Moore) and Marcus (Deon Richard) are kind of like buddy flick characters, and they work together amazingly. While Ben is the more awkward, geeky type still hung up on an ex girlfriend, Marcus is the exact opposite; he is on the pursuit of partying, naked, if welcomed. This makes for some hilarious moments with the two trying to put one another down throughout the film. Marybeth (Tamara Feldman) is also a great character; she is along for the ride only to search for her missing brother and father (Englund), but gives the Victor Crowley back-story to the hapless tourists of the trip. You also get a softcore filmmaker (for his own personal enjoyment) who wants his two leading ladies (whom hate each other to the bone) to bless his camera with tit shots any time the environment changes.

It is great to see John Carl Buechler spreading his bloody disease all across the screen. This is the guy responsible for the thumb through the forehead death in Halloween 4, he’s also responsible for make-up duties on Elm Street 4, F13 7, Android, Necronomicon and loads more. In Hatchet, It is gleefully obvious that Buechler and Magical Media Industries Inc. had tons of fun with the bloodletting. There is no mercy shown here, what so ever. One victim alone gets head butted into a tree, has an arm ripped off, slung upside down into a tree and has his spine ripped out by the bare hands of one, Victor Crowley, and this is just a fucking opening scene. If that does not glue you in for the rest of the film, something is wrong. There’s also plenty more dismemberment, a nasty segment of a head being ripped open by the mouth, head being busted across a tombstone and a shitload more! In addition, Victor Crowley himself is quite the looker, making ole’ Voorhees appear to be a GQ model. His face is that of peanut butter art, strands of hair here and there, a triangulating spine that protrudes outward, and some bitching ass overalls to boot. This is one crazy looking SOB.

A favorite scene of mine is the back-story segment of Victor Crowley. The moment in reference takes place on Halloween, and the seasonal atmosphere is captured with precise class. Not to be missed.

-Eric King (RobocopsSadSide)

To buy from Amazon: Hatchet (Unrated Director’s Cut)