“It’s not a remake. It’s not a sequel. And it’s not based on a Japanese one.” With a tagline like that, you know that you’re in for a fun ride with Hatchet (2006). Director Adam Green offers up a way over-the-top slasher flick that feels like it belongs twenty years back in the glory days of horror VHS rentals. Our resident slasher, Victor Crowley, comes from the mutant sub-genre. He lives in the swamp in a shack because apparently Jason Voorhees recommended it for beautiful moonlit swamp gases. Know going into this that it is excessively gory yet never takes itself too seriously. While it is clearly paying homage to all the 80s slasher flicks that came before it, it never crosses that line of making fun of the genre. All of the ethnic and gender clichés are present. The old couple who you know is going to be the first to go. The nerd, the overly horny guy and amusing African American, displaced Asian pretending to be from Louisiana, smart but hot looking chick, dumb but hot looking chick and the somewhat hot but smartest of the bunch hot chick. None of them are particularly outstanding as they are campy but effective. The standout character is Marybeth Dunston, played by Tamara Feldman. She is there in search of her father and brother, who have gone missing. We have some familiar faces along for the ride to give the film some legitimacy. Robert Englund (the original and best Freddy Kruger from Nightmare on Elm Street) is her father and resident redneck who regrets ever going to the swamp to fish at night. Tony Todd (Candyman) is on hand as Reverend Zombie, who wisely stays away from the swamp these days after an unfortunate lawsuit. And finally, Kane Hodder (a modern-day legend who’s played Jason Voorhees and Leatherface) plays a dual role as Victor Crowley and his father Thomas. The story is simple. Group goes into the swamp, boat sinks and they encounter Victor in the swamp/woods. Death and mayhem follow. There is nothing original about this movie yet it works. However, you have to be a fan of the 80s horror movies. I have fond memories of staying up late to see what HBO had to offer. Go into it with that frame of mind and you’ll enjoy it.
Hatchet was a big hit on the film festival circuit in 2006 and was finally released on DVD in 2007. It was a huge hit on the video market, earning more than $8 million. So you had to know that a sequel was guaranteed. Hatchet II was released in 2010 with Adam Green back as director. The movie picks up right where the first one left off as Marybeth escapes the clutches of Victor. Modern-day scream queen Danielle Harris assumes the role of Marybeth, which admittedly turns things up a notch. Kane Hodder is back as Victor (and Thomas) while Tony Todd pops up again as Reverend Zombie. This time, Marybeth wants to avenge her family. We get more background story on Victor involving infidelity and curses. And, of course, more bloodshed and mayhem. While still fun for what it offers, I didn’t enjoy part two as much as the first. Critics seem to agree as overall reviews were less than stellar. We get some fun cameos from Lloyd Kaufman as well as Shawn Ashmore and Emma Bell, reprising her role from Frozen (also directed by Adam Green). Not as good as the original but it was able to ride the coattails of the first film to make itself a success. Hatchet III is currently in post-production for a 2013 release.