For this month’s “Summer Of Blood” themed Drinking With The Dread, I asked you, my intoxicated minions, to democratically choose your own drinking game fate. I’m here to deliver content y’all crave, so why not let you select the film outright? My brain immediately jumped to titles like Sleepaway Camp or Pieces, but surprisingly – to my delight – one of my favorite 2000s slashers received multiple requests…
The late 70s and 80s may define horror’s golden era of slasher output, but Adam Green’s Hatchet deserves credit for keeping that same vibe alive in the mid-2000s. Victor Crowley’s legend has grown over three consecutive sequels, but nothing tops 2006’s original New Orleans meatgrinder. Newer generations don’t have their Freddy or Jason or Michael – Chucky’s still slayin’ and James Wan’s “Conjurverse” has summoned heretics such as “The Nun” – but Victor Crowley is one of few memorable slasher villains to be born post-2000s (aside from ChromeSkull or Leslie Vernon). Upon a rewatch, it’s only become more evident that Victor Crowley *never* got the attention he deserved nor the budgets, despite Green’s ability to deliver top-notch slasher pandamonium on repeat occasions.
Hatchet oozes Louisiana voodoo influences and mucky swampland shudders, but never loses sight of gleefully indulgent midnight dressings. A cast including Joel David Moore, Tamara Feldman, Deon Richmond, Tony Todd, Kane Hodder and more escape Mardi Gras skeeviness only to encounter an urban legend’s bloody blade. There’s an abundance of cheesetastic one-liners delivered by aspiring “Girls Gone Wild” stars and disgruntled best friends stuck on some “boring” backwoods tour, so very 80s when embracing exploitation cinema in terms of “skin flick” influences or 100% devotion to N-A-S-T-Y slashings (er, “hatchetings”). It’s the kind of film that can sell Richard Riehle’s hardest lean into “excited retired grandpa” territory without losing Hodder’s primal monster portrayal. Mutilated corpses and cheeky in-jokes balanced by bloodlust.
As a good slasher does, *every* death in Hatchet carries spectacle allure thanks to John Carl Buechler’s masterfully morbid effects (RIP). Crowley doesn’t simply slice victims’ throats. Joel Murray’s “Bayou Beavers” director gets his head screw-twisted off due to Crowley’s brute strength. Mercedes McNab may die off camera, but Crowley’s sure to chuck her head, torso, and other severed body parts at Moore’s petrified “hero.” Then you have Patrika Darbo’s demise as Crowley catches her mid-flee, puts his hands in her mouth, and rips the top half of her head clean off at the jawline, leaving only a floppy tongue waving in the humidity. Kills favor complication of the utmost vile mechanics, but Green’s selling of said mutilation is what’s most impressive. Darbo’s rip-n-tear especially, as the camera circles around Crowley’s back to allow for a seamlessly edited cut when the actress is switched out for her SFX stunt double.
Green’s adoration for horror cinema and sense of humor are the secret creole spices that individualize Hatchet, looking past cameos (Robert Englund/Buechler) or dialogue references. Scene after scene Green misdirects in a way that keeps Crowley’s appearances always surprising, while the heavy shadows of night erase any beaded and belligerent festiveness from our now-stranded characters. You’re here to watch slasher pawns die horrible, devastating deaths, and Green strives to deliver precisely the better-with-booze communal watch us fans can revisit time and time again. There’s a reason his faithful “Hatchet Army” exists.
Highlight moments include but are not limited to:
- Paying off the “crabs” comment.
- Reverend Zombie’s story about why his night tours ceased.
- Anything Richard Riehle says. What a legendary “dad tourist” performance.
- The fear in Marcus’ eyes after shouting insults meant to distract Victor Crowley.
- Jenna and Misty’s constant burns.
- Each and every kill.
- Marilyn Manson playing over the intro credits.
- Can’t say enough about John Carl Buechler’s special effects work – the reason Hatchet sticks in your memory.
- Tour guide Shawn’s many personalities.
- Victor Crowley. The killer, the myth, the icon.
Alright, you crawdads and fat cats. Let’s honor Bourbon Street with this month’s Hatchet Drinking With The Dread rules!
- Drink whenever someone speaks Victor Crowley’s name or he appears.
- Drink whenever a character dies.
- Drink whenever someone undermines, makes fun of, or gets mad at Shawn.
- Drink whenever someone tells Ben to get over his ex.
- Drink TWICE whenever Doug shoots his nudie flick.
- Drink TWICE whenever you see a gator or a gator is mentioned.
- Take a shot when Victor claims his first victim in honor of John Carl Buechler (who also appears as Jack Cracker).
A toast, Drinking With The Dread-ers (wait, y’all need a nickname), to Adam Green for leading the 2000s slasher renaissance charge with Hatchet (a film that includes one hilarious dig at my alma mater Hofstra University that never fails to delight). One of the goriest, more relentlessly chew-em-up, spit-em-out splatter flicks gifted by the indie horror gods. Cheers to bodily practical effects pulverization, dirtier horror sensibilities than centuries-old swamp water, plus a workable blend of black humor and vicious murders. Hatchet, you’re one-of-a-kind by today’s horror standards. May those of us who yearn for a slasher subgenre resurgence continue praising your name until Victor Crowley is revered on the level he deserves.