Reviewed by Johnny Butane
Starring Joel David Moore, Tamara Feldman, Deon Richmond, Kane Hodder, Mercedes McNabb
Directed by Adam Green
Released by Anchor Bay Entertainment
Man it seems like we have been talking about Hatchet forever. In fact it really has been years that we’ve been discussing it in some form or another, and I’m glad that it’s finally come around to me reviewing the DVD because, damnit, I’ve got some things to say about it, too.
First of all, Hatchet is not the be all, end all of slasher movies as some reviews would have you believe. It’s not the second coming of slashers and it contains really nothing you’ve not seen before. What it is, however, is a very well done slasher film with its heart in the right place that never shies away from all the things the adolescent in us craves.
It does take too long to get to the Victor Crowley killing spree but it’s all right because the characters you’re spending time with are genuinely funny and, for the most part, believable. They’re fun to watch so you don’t necessarily notice that you’ve not seen blood since the first reel. Besides, Green suffered so many pitfalls getting this movie made you can forgive almost every shortcoming Hatchet has because he stuck to his guns and just wanted to make; a good, old school horror film. The tagline does say it all; “Old School American Horror”. That is exactly what Hatchet is.
And believe me, when the killing does start, Green doesn’t hold back. Staying true to the concept of making an seriously over the top slasher flick, he brought in veteran effects man John Carl Buechler to create Crowley and orchestrate all the kills, and you can really see the attention to detail. From a man’s head being twisted off to a woman having her head pulled apart to a guy getting his arms ripped off … if nothing else you’ve got to enjoy Hatchet for its massive blood and gore content.
Hatchet is just plain and simple a good time; a movie that should be seen with a slightly drunken crowd at midnight on a Friday or Saturday night. I really wish more horror fans would have gotten out to theaters when it was (albeit very briefly and very limited) out, but then Anchor Bay didn’t go over the top with their marketing. Now that the DVD is out you can make up for your transgressions if you missed it. Go in with normalized expectations, expecting to see a lot of gore and some very nice breasts on display, and you’ll have a good time.
And if you don’t like the movie for whatever reason, the DVD is still worth picking up because this is just a great disc from top to bottom.
The commentary track is just awesome, plain and simple. Adam and DP Will Barratt start the whole thing off with the tale of jimmy rigging their studio just to record the commentary, which is par for the course when it comes to Hatchet according to the duo. They’re later joined by Joel David Moore, Deon Richmond and Tamara Feldman, all of whom contribute their own bits but never talk over one another. There’s a lot of people on the track but you can tell they’re just relaxing and talking about a fun movie they made that they’re proud of, not trying prove who’s funnier that who and who has better stories like you find in some commentaries. Well worth a listen just to hear how much shit they had to go through to get this thing made.
Thankfully, “The Making of Hatchet” isn’t just your standard EPK, talking heads bullshit; this is a real behind-the-scenes look at the movie from the first stages down to the actual shoot. Green tells of all the tribulations he went through to get Hatchet made, all the ups and downs throughout its production, with reminiscing from the stars, DP, production team, et all thrown in for good measure. It’s also well worth a watch, though there’s a bit too much hyperbole from some parties. I guess I can understand being caught up in the moment and all, but it was this kind of talk that oversold Hatchet to many horror fans, which lead to dissapointment.
All right, so from there we have “Meeting Victor Crowley”; a look at what it was like for the crew on the night they had to actually see Kane Hodder in Victor Crowley makeup for the first time. It’s pretty cool; Green and Hodder didn’t let any of the cast see the makeup or Kane when he was in it until this night of shooting. Their recollections about the actor/stuntman terrorizing them between takes are priceless, especially what happens to Mercedes McNabb in her trailer.
”Guts & Gore” takes a look at some of the special effects done for Hatchet, which as previously stated were all really fucking cool. Buechler get some much-deserved time in the spotlight discussing the hows and whys of some of the scenes, and we get to see the origins of the young Victor Crowley. Believe it or not, he started life as a very hot chick…
“Anatomy of a Kill” breaks down the long, painstaking process Green and his team when through to get the jaw-tearing scene done right. Green wanted to see it take place in one take with no CG, not an easy task unless you actually want to tear someone’s head in half; seeing how they pulled it off is a lot of fun.
“A Twisted Tale” is Adam and former Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider recounting their long affair, er, relationship with one another; a story Green has told many times over but still delivers it like it’s the first time. It’s nice to hear Dee’s side of it, as well, and goes to show that they were both major influences on one another. Very up with people stuff here.
Finally there’s a gag reel, worth watching to see Joel David Moore trying to make himself puke if you’re into that stuff, and the theatrical trailer. I’m a bit confused as to why the original trailer, the proof of concept one they shot in New Orleans in two days before they ever made the film, wasn’t included, but that’s about the only features complaint I can make about the DVD, which isn’t bad at all!
All in all an excellent package for a very deserving film. I’m sure Hatchet is going to find a very loyal fanbase over the next years, and I hope it’s just the beginnings of success for the team behind it. And hey, the more Hatchet discs you buy, the quicker we’ll be seeing Hatchet 2!
3 1/2 out of 5
5 out of 5
Discuss Hatchet in the Dread Central forums!