Hatchetman (2003)

Starring Cheryl Burns, Chris Moir, Jon Briddell, Mia Zottoli

Directed by Robert Tiffi

Slashin’ and strippin’ – two great tastes that taste great together!

Hatchetman is yet another slasher movie in the grand tradition of slasher flicks that exist for the sole purpose of showing us blood and boobs. Story and characters are inconsequential. This is all about blood and gore and T&A. It has no other ambition than to give you just that. Hatchetman is a movie I had seen sitting seemingly unrented by anyone on video store shelves for months. A hatchet wielding masked maniac stalks and kills a group of strippers and cuts off their hands to keep as souvenirs. The fact that one can completely sum up the entire plot in a single sentence should tell you all you need to know about the contents of the movie, and probably why it has been sitting unrented on video store shelves for months. I finally said what the hell and rented it for myself.

Our primary damsel in distress is a Yasmine Bleeth look-a-like named Claudia, who only strips to pay the bills while anxiously awaiting the daily mail delivery in order find out whether or not she’s finally been accepted to law school. Her boyfriend is Sonny, who just happens to be a cop. Sonny doesn’t have a problem with the fact that his girlfriend takes off her clothes for a living but she most certainly has a problem with him being a hard-working police detective. That right there should also tell you a little something about this film’s goofy mindset.

Two of Claudia’s friends and co-workers get brutally murdered by a homicidal maniac wearing a skull-faced Halloween fright mask that I swear to God I’ve seen on the rack at Spencer’s Gifts. If not, then it was one awfully similar. The local police dub the killer “Hatchetman” because all the victims were hacked up with a hatchet. In fact, the hatchet the “Hatchetman” uses looks like a mini medieval axe that could be purchased at a sci-fi/fantasy convention. Just about every kill plays out in exactly the same manner. He swings the hatchet at the screaming victim and then we see some blood splatter against a nearby wall. Despite hacking and slashing them savagely, even going so far as to cut off their hands, the killer somehow manages to never get a drop of blood on the costume. I guess the producers couldn’t afford the dry cleaning bill?

It also makes things a bit more convenient for the killer that practically all of the strippers he’s stalking live in the same apartment complex, which is where most of the movie is set. Surprisingly little time is actually spent inside the strip club they all work at.

Sonny is worried about Claudia, especially after the killer breaks into the nearby apartment of one of her sisters in stripping and hacks her up. Claudia is scared but spends more time whining about the state of their relationship due to the long hours he works protecting the streets from masked, hatchet swinging maniacs. Most of the flick consists of the same scenes repeated over and over: strippers getting stalked and killed, Sonny at one of the crime scenes, everyone at the apartment complex either panicking or crying, Claudia watching the local news reports about the killings that appear to be broadcast at all hours of the day and night, and of course, stripping.

Most of the film’s nudity comes courtesy of one of Claudia’s friends played by Cinemax After Dark siren Mia Zottoli. She has multiple strip scenes whereas the other actresses only have like one. I don’t recall the actress playing Claudia even showing any nudity during her lone striptease. Also, these are some of the most wholesome looking strippers I’ve ever seen, the kind you could take home to mother. Aren’t these girls supposed to have giant unsightly tattoos, multiple piercings, and appear just a bit more on the haggard side? Maybe I’ve just seen too many episodes of “G-String Divas”. I did notice that almost all of them appear to wear large hoop earrings. It’s almost comical once you realize it.

So who is the killer, why is the killer targeting these strippers, and what’s with the whole taking their hands thing? Is it the crazy ex-boyfriend of one of the strippers that just got out of jail for threatening to kill her? Is it the dorky spaz of a landlord – imagine a more spastic version of Crispin Glover from Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter – that has hysterical fits when people do things not allowed in their lease and is so obsessed with the Mia Zottoli character that he installs a hidden camera in her bedroom and then reacts in a stunned manner when told doing so is illegal? Is it the creepy tenant – think Rupert Everett if he was cast as The Punisher – who is constantly working on his car, eyeballing the girls in an uncomfortable way, and sneaking into their apartments to try on their unmentionables? Is it the slimy businessman that’s always hitting on the strippers and whose character is introduced from completely out of the blue late in the movie in order to give us one more red herring? Or is the killer someone else, someone you’d least suspect, probably because you’ve been given no clue ahead of time that the person was mentally unbalanced? Just wait until you find out who it is and the reason that person is committing the murders, it’s a head shaker, that’s for certain.

But if you really must know the identity of the “Hatchetman” then just look up the movie on IMDB because they actually tell you who the killer is in the acting credits.

Hatchetman is not a good movie by any stretch of the imagination, but then it was obviously never intended to be one. It sets out only to deliver on blood and boobs. There is a fair amount of gore, but mostly just seeing the aftermath of the slayings. As I said, when the slashing goes down you pretty much see nothing more than blood splattering on the wall. As for gratuitous nudity, even though there was quite a bit it still seemed to be less than one would expect given a movie with exotic dancers as its main characters. In a way, the movie doesn’t completely satisfy on either the bloody murder or gratuitous nudity front. Still, the movie is relentlessly goofy for the first half hour and moves along at a brisk pace, but after that is begins to bog down with too much melodrama and traditional slasher movie scene requirements. We’ve seen this sort of thing done before a million times and if this is the kind of movie you’re in the mood for then you could probably do a lot worse than this. Much, much worse!

By the way, is it just my imagination or does the box art for Hatchetman look they someone just slightly modified the poster art for the Man-Thing movie?

2 out of 5

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