Hatchet (Unrated Director’s Cut)

Friday, February 29th, 2008 @ 6:07 am | DVD

Hatchet (Unrated Director’s Cut)
Tagline: Old School American Horror
Released: 2007
Starring Joel Moore, Deon Richmond, Tamara Feldman, and Kane Hodder
Directed by Adam Green
Written by Adam Green

Format: DVD
Distributed by Anchor Bay
DVD Release Date: December 18, 2007

Features:
1.78:1 Widescreen Presentation
Dolby Surround 5.1, Dolby Surround 2.0
Feature-length audio commentary with director Adama Green, cinematographer Will Barratt, and actors Joel David Moore, Deon Richmond, and Tamara Feldman.
The Making of Hatchet
Meeting Victor Crowley
Guts and Gore
Anatomy of a Kill
A Twisted Tale
Gag Reel
Theatrical Trailer

Premise: Get ready for one of the most talked-about, red-blooded American horror movies of the past 20 years: When a group of New Orleans tourists take a cheesy haunted swamp tour, they slam face-first into the local legend of deformed madman Victor Crowley. What follows is a psycho spree of seat-jumping scares, eye- popping nudity, skull-splitting mayhem and beyond. Joel David Moore (DODGEBALL), Deon Richmond (SCREAM 3) and Mercedes McNab (BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER) star – along with horror icons Tony ‘Candyman’ Todd, Robert ‘Freddy Krueger’ Englund and Kane ‘Jason’ Hodder – in this screamingly funny carnage classic that Fangoria hails as “a no-hold-barred homage to the days when slasher films were at their reddest and wettest!”

Plot Breakdown (spoilers): Ben and a group of friends are on vacation in New Orleans, enjoying the sights and sounds of Mardi Gras. Ben is in the process of trying to get over his recent breakup with his girlfriend, so he and his friend Marcus decide to go on a haunted swamp tour to get his mind off his troubles. Joining them on the tour are sleazy porn “director” Shapiro and the two girls he’s filming, mysterious loner Marybeth, husband and wife tourists Mr. and Mrs. Permatteo, and shady tour guide Shawn. The theme of their tour centers around the legend of Victory Crowley, a deformed man who suffered an accidental death at the hands of his own father. Their swamp tour is cut short when their boat sinks, stranding them in the middle of the swamp. As it turns, out the legend of Victor Crowley is very real and very dangerous. Now, they must try to escape the woods before Crowley unleashes his bloody vengeance on them all.

Hatchet

The Good: Fans of 80’s slasher films who are disillusioned with this decades batch of cash-grab remakes and watered down PG-13 studio fluff can finally breathe a sigh of relief. Director and fellow slasher fan Adam Green has brought the slasher formula into the 21st century and injected it with an extra dose of over-the-top carnage and comedy.

Slasher films were never meant to be taken too seriously, and this movie wears that fact on its sleeve. The first 20 minutes or so introduce us to the characters, whose witty and hilarious banter right away make them more likable than your typical slasher film meat-sack victims. Joel Moore plays a dorky yet likable hero who is easy to identify with, while Deon Richmond as Marcus easily steals the show with his hilarious dialogue and amusing reactions to the horrifying situations taking place around him. The other players are just as engaging, such as the beautiful yet resilient Marybeth played by the gorgeous Tamara Feldman. Suffice to say, the characters in this film are likable enough to make you feel for them, all while still being entertained enough when they are dispatched.

Speaking of being dispatched, one of the highlights of this film is its extreme level of violence. Each of the kills in this movie are distinct and memorable. We get a belt sander to the face, a head twisted off, a head torn open like a Pez dispenser, and more. The violence is as brutal as it is entertaining, as I often found myself laughing as much as I was cringing. As an added bonus to horror fans, the film treats us to a number of cameos from familiar faces such as Robert Englund and Tony Todd, both of whom put in side-splittingly hilarious performances. Last but certainly not least, Kane Hodder is as ferocious as ever as Victor Crowley. The sheer brutality of this movie gives Kane a lot of freedom to add his own vicious methods to the character.

This DVD release is a true gift to the fans, including a number of informative featurettes. The main course is the Making of Hatchet featurette, which provides a comprehensive look at the casting, filming, and designs that went into the making of the film. Interviews, behind the scenes footage, and film footage all help to round out this documentary. Guts and Gore and Anatomy of a Kill go into detail on the creation and execution of the films many creative kills, the latter of which is dedicated to the infamous “Pez dispenser” kill. Meeting Victor Crowley is an entertaining look at how Kane Hodder applies his own magic touch to portraying Victor Crowley. The pranks he played on the other cast members, while still in the Victor Crowley make-up, had me rolling! Finally, the gag reel provided some amusing flubs, such as the hilarious improvised lines of Joel Moore and Deon Richmond.

The Bad: There really isn’t a whole lot about this movie that I can say I dislike. Some of the humor in the film didn’t do much for me, as some jokes were beaten into the ground. The music in certain scenes was wildly overdone and out-of-place, sounding like the kind of whimsical music you’d hear in a PG-rated early 90’s comedy – not a blood-soaked slasher film. The film’s plot, especially the killer’s background, was a tad derivative of other slashers. These are all minor complaints though, as these do little to detract from the overall fun factor of this movie.

The only negative aspect of this DVD that I could find was the Twisted Tale featurette. Adam Green tells us the story of how he first got into Twisted Sister, and how he and Dee Snider eventually formed a close friendship. This documentary seemed to be a bit self-indulgent on Adam Green’s part, coming off more as filler than as anything that had to do with Hatchet.

Final Thoughts: After the 80’s, it seemed like the slasher genre was all but dead, fodder for the teeny bopper fluff of the 90’s and 2000s. This movie takes the iconic slasher formula and supercharges it for the 21st century, renewing hope for slasher fans with the prospect that there are still filmmakers out there who know what we want and love.
Grade: A (film) | B+ (DVD release)

– by contributing reviewer Chris Neville

 

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