Hatchet (2006)

Hatchet (click for larger image)Starring Joel Moore, Tamara Feldman, Deon Richmond, Parry Shen, Mercedes McNab, Tony Todd, Robert Englund, Joshua Leonard, Kane Hodder

Directed by Adam Green

Distributed by Anchor Bay Entertainment

You remember those movies. Let me take you back to a simpler era, sometime in the early Eighties — There we sat in a darkened theatre. Popcorn and drink in hand. Our eyes were glued to the screen watching a few people who, as fate would have it, ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time. They may not have been the smartest characters in the world, and hell, some of them were just downright annoying, but all that didn’t matter. They weren’t the stars. They weren’t the reason we plunked down our hard-earned cash that night. They were meat for the beast. Out of the darkness an uncontrollable force of violence would step forth to dole out some serious gore as audiences shrieked with delight. Shit was flying everywhere, man! There were no cutaways, and there was not a single unsatisfied spatter-fan to be found. What the fuck happened? Where have those movies gone? If you ask director Adam Green, I’m sure he could give you a pretty good idea as his movie Hatchet practically draws us a road map that leads fans back into the heart of blood-drenched darkness.

A pre-Katrina New Orleans is our stage, and man, do I miss this city. Especially during Mardi Gras. Yep, you’ll find all types during that special time of year. Hearts are both broken and mended during the festivities, and at the very least we can count on a quick boob flash (another Eighties horror staple) to ease our weary minds. Meet Ben (Moore). Having just broken up with his girlfriend, he’s in no mood to see anyone’s pendulous titties swinging about wildly as they remind him too much of his ex and the time they spent screwing on the couch his mom had bought them. Instead he wants to check out one of the other things that New Orleans is famous for — haunts! This news comes much to the chagrin of his best friend, Marcus (Richmond), who was perfectly content offering beads for boobs and drinking beer. Still, friends will be friends so the duo head off to take a haunted swamp tour. Little did they expect that one of the tales their not-so-skilled tour guide (Shen) is relating actually has some validity … the tale of Victor Crowley (Hodder).

Hatchet (click for larger image)You see, old Victor is on fire with rage and with good reason. He was born into this world deformed. A massive hulk whom people just didn’t understand. One night a prank is played on him by some neighborhood kids that ends up costing him his life, or so everyone had thought. The truth is hatred and anger are driving forces that can last a really long time, and once our tourists end up stranded in Victor’s neck of the swamp, the shit really hits the fan.

That’s the set-up and admittedly it’s not like we haven’t seen a gazillion movies with similar story lines. Yet, back then we didn’t care. We just wanted cool killers and bloody deaths. These types of flicks, while certainly not perfect, became some of the most beloved additions to the slasher sub-genre. But then everything changed. The MPAA started cracking down on horror violence, and as a result even some of the biggest franchises were getting released severely neutered. The near bloodless Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan comes to mind as a perfect example of what I am talking about. It seemed as if good slasher films were a dying breed. In the early Nineties thanks to films like Scream, the sub-genre began fighting its way back, but even then it still didn’t come close to the good old days.

Watching Hatchet is like stepping into a time machine and getting dropped off at a local movie theatre way back when. All the key ingredients to make the quintessential gore-fest are there: hot chicks, campy humor, an insane amount of splatter, and most of all — a killer so vicious that you simply cannot get him out of your head. Let me go on record right now by saying Victor Crowley will be the first film killer in years to join the upper echelon ranks of Michael, Jason, and Freddy. He is the next big thing in horror.

Hatchet (click for larger image)Many of us cried foul when Kane Hodder was replaced as Jason. Mind you, I am not knocking Ken Kirzinger; he did a great job behind the mask, but the ferocity that Hodder brought to the character was sorely missing. Fans will go ballistic when they see Kane’s performance of Crowley. Picture everything you liked about Hodder’s Jason and then tear off his chain and truly unleash the monster. Crowley runs, jumps, tears, and hacks his way through his victims much like a great white shark that hasn’t fed in weeks. Not only that but he looks truly badass. Fuck Ghostface or some dude in a fisherman’s slicker; I’ll take a blood-hungry mega-pissed mongoloid any day over any of that shit.

Let me be perfectly blunt — don’t fuck with Victor Crowley.

Now let’s talk about the kills themselves. You will not find any CGI crap here. Every effect, no matter how brutal, is pulled off using good old fashioned prosthetics and stage blood. Breathe in horror fans! Know what that is? Fresh fucking air! Green does not flinch when it comes to delivering the gore. Every kill entails hacking, ripping, snapping, and in one instance an electric sander to the face thrown in for good measure, of course! The grue is splashed across the screen by the bucketful, and nothing is left to the imagination. Hatchet is an unapologetically violent film that makes no compromises and takes no prisoners. It could very well be one of the best horror films of the year.

If it sounds like I am being over-complimentary, you’re damned right I am. It’s about time someone made a film with enough balls to make me remember why I love this genre in the first place. However, Hatchet is not flawless. In fact it suffers from the same types of cliche pitfalls (you all know what they are) that every film that inspired it does. In the grand scheme of things though, I don’t think that’s such a bad thing.

Films lately seem to take themselves altogether too seriously. The only thing filmmaker Adam Green takes seriously is having fun and painting the screen blood fucking red. His love for the genre is apparent in every frame of film. So, here’s your chance, my fellow freaks. It’s time to make a stand, and I am calling every one of you out. You say that you’re sick of sequels and remakes? You’re tired of PG-13 rated kiddie fodder? Then show the industry you want to see something good. All you have to do is get your asses to theatres. Bring your friends, drink your beers, and enjoy the sick! The future of horror is now.

4 out of 5

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Steve Barton

You're such an inspiration for the ways that I will never, ever choose to be.