Featuring: Joel “Avatar” Moore , Tamara “‘Gossip Girl’” Feldman , Deon “‘The Cosby Show’” Richmond
Writer & Director: Adam “Frozen (2010)” Green
Sequels: Hatchet II ; Hatchet III ; Victor Crowley
Before we open this can of flesh-eating worms, I’d like to take a moment to shout out to Mr. John Carl Buechler, a living legend of the horror genre whose contributions to sleaze, deformed monstrosities, and graphic scenes of excessive violence have made my world a much better place. He’s currently trading blows with some manner of cancerous intruder and his family has established a crowdfunding page to help them in their time of need. Even if you can’t afford to donate some dinero, forward some well-wishes and let the Buechlers know you care. gofundme.com/f/help-john-buechler
Intro: One of the big drawbacks of doing Rerun write-ups is not having anything resembling a clue as to whatever the fuck it was I was rambling on about during my initial spewings of mental vomit. For instance, I don’t have idea one as to the “two-page magazine ad” that I refer to having over-hyped me for Hatchet, given that the only horror magazine I ever really patronized was ”Fangoria”, and even then my exposure to that ended once I stopped renewing The Evil Dead Bride’s subscription around 2002. Perhaps it was one of the random rare issues of ”Rue Morgue” purchased during an exceptionally taxing traversal on the dread ship Greyhound? Much like the genuine durability of a Tootsie Pop when waged against the assault of a lapping tongue, the world may never know.
Well, as today is Mardi Gras, in a bit of last-minute unspiration I thought I’d exhume the remains of my thoughts on what would go on to be one of the more lauded series of slasher flicks from the last 10+ years, so heeeeeeeere’s Hatchet!
I usually take myself out of the hype loop when it comes to “under the radar” movies. Unless I come across a quick forum mention of some epically bad or astonishingly good flick, or my Evil Dead Bride picks up on something from a friend or import website, chances are I don’t know too much about the movies I watch before I actually sit down to watch them. I generally discover them for myself whether by trailer, NetFlix recommendations, or a quick scan of the walls at any of the 14 movie rental stores I’ve got a membership to… yes, I’ve got an addiction, I realize that and don’t need you to act like you’re the first person to point this out to me!
This self-imposed media blackout helps to kill off shit that’s either going to sway me for or against a movie and saves me the “purity” of an uninfluenced opinion when I’m reviewing. Unfortunately, that’s not going to work with my latest review for Hatchet, because I first heard about it through a massive two-page advert, strewn with nothing but the standard cookie-cutter review quotes saying crap like “The Greatest Slasher Movie Ever Made!” and “Absolutely Brilliant! Finally, a Horror Movie That Respects the Viewer’s Intelligence!” and “This Movie Will Make You Rethink the Way You Think About Slasher Flicks!” and “Better Than the Heartwarming Feeling You Get When Grandma Gives You an Apple Pie Enema!”. An “apple pie enema”? I don’t know, that’s a pretty tall order to live up to.
Teasing us to believe that we’re in for yet another in the long line of killer alligator flicks, our opening scene introduces us to two cinematically stereotypical redneck types out on the bayou looking to do a little ‘gator poaching. When the son of the duo returns from a piss to find his father (Robert Englund in a mercifully short cameo) torn in half! Unable to utter any last words about NASCAR or Middle Eastern people, the son’s final utterances are little more than gurgling screams as he’s mauled and torn apart by a mostly unseen assailant.
Without much time to process whatever the fuck it is we just saw, the movie jumps instead to Mardi Gras! Here, where tits of all shapes and sizes are displayed so that drunken frat boys will throw beads at them and reprehensible dick booger Joe Francis can make another $40 million off of pathetic infantile drunk guys who order that shit for $10 a pop from 3am infomercials on SpikeTV and Comedy Central, as opposed to just attending the free mammary parade that is the internet like the rest of us do.
Five standard issue college type guys are in The Big Sleazy for, what else, Drunken Areola Fest 2007. Of the five there are only two that stand out: Ben (Joel Moore), because he’s all depressed over his girlfriend leaving him for a steroid case, and Marcus (Deon Richmond), because he’s the solitary black guy of the gaggle, meaning he gets the best lines while also burdened with the best likelihood of dying due to his skin color. The other guys are just there to fill up camera space or be brutally slaughtered in some way, shape or form, so I’m not going to bother learning their names.
Anyway, being the one guy not interested in the nipple avalanche nor getting drowned in alcohol and regurgitated po’ boys, Benji excuses himself from the group to seek geeky fun via a “haunted swamp tour”. Marcus tags along because he now feels guilty about his love for boobs. It’s very awkward listening to Rudy’s friend Buuuud say “I’d rather skin my own dick”. Just thought I’d put that out there. The two seek out the Candyman himself, Tony Todd, to indulge in his tourist trap trip, but the Harlequin-painted Baron Samedi had a problem with a former patron slapping him with the curse of a voodoo lawsuit, so he redirects the lads to another tour around the block. Oh man, does this mean no more Tony Todd now?! Damn it!
To fill out the body count a bit, there are seven more people along for the tour: an obvious homage to the aforementioned trash fountain that is Joe Francis (never trust someone with two first names!); his pair of booby show “actresses” who spend 20% of their screen time flashing their fun bags and the other 80% arguing with each other; an obnoxious pair of Midwestern tourist geezers; a mysterious and unfriendly chick to serve as Ben’s forced love interest; and the be-caped, top hat wearing doofus tour guide who Marco describes as “Bruce Lee meets Uncle Remus” since he’s Asian and speaks with an unconvincing N’awlins accent.
Of course, they ignore the warnings of a urine guzzling beardo, who tells them not go out into the swamp after dark unless they want to be chopped into gumbo meat by the local urban legend hatchet murderer, Victor Crowley. To no one’s surprise, their tour barge runs aground of a sizable rock and is sent sinking into the swampy depths. To avoid becoming the late night “all you can eat!” buffet for the local cold-blooded populace, our inadequate crew heads ashore amid a torrential downpour. It’s here where we learn that Ben’s enigmatic girlfriend not only has a gun but she also seems to know something about surviving in the bayou (probably FBI or a bounty hunter or on the run from an abusive spouse or something), so expect her to take charge of these chuckle fucks. Meanwhile, old man tourist guy has part of his leg chewed off by a future pair of boots and nobody’s cell phone works! Did these idiots all pass under a ladder on their way to the tour?!
As for Mr. Crowley, he was your average inbred retard mutant child (probably a Voorhees relation) who died in a Halloween prank gone wrong thanks to an accidental face axing by his loving Pa (Kane Hodder!). Pa Crowley later died of grief, but local legends say that the ghost of Vic wanders this very neck of the swamp, crying and looking for his daddy. Either way, our little crew just happens to be nearby the burnt out remains of the Crowley home, so it looks like they’ll be holding up there till the storm blows over… or until sunrise… or until they can figure out Crowley is actually the owner of a haunted amusement park trying to scare away the locals so he can search for the lost diamond stash hidden there by a gang of armored car thieves in the 1940s… or something.
As you probably predicted, the big retarded Neanderthal-in-coveralls is indeed on the warpath, chopping up his victims with a hatchet and tearing them to pieces with his hulking inbred super strength!… and apparently taking his style tips from Jason circa the finale of Friday the 13th Part 2. Now, we just have to wait for everybody to die and let the special effects crew make this trip worth the price of admission… which they do… repeatedly!
Gore whores, this is your stop on the 3:15 express bus to Violenceville. Crazy Vic uses everything from his titular lumberjack-ing tool to a shovel to a gas powered belt sander in his efforts to trim down the fodder while Ben and his new girlfriend try to figure out a way to put Crowley down for the ten count, whether by gun, pitchfork, flammable liquid or some other method to keep him from surviving for a sequel before he can kill them all off first. And you know that even if they think they’ve killed him, there’s no way he’s really dead… unless the movie does so badly in the DVD market that no one’s willing to touch a script for the sequel with a ten-foot stabbin’ pole, in which case Big V might as well be encased in concrete and dropped off the next Carnival Cruise ship heading out to sea.
Well, that’s over with. Now what? All in all, Hatchet is a modern day attempt at recapturing the simplified carnage and magic of the early Friday the 13th movies. Back in the days when Jason was just a deranged gorilla decked out in a modified potato sack and tearing through unsuspecting teens like a scythe through scarecrows, falling off of chairs and bisecting shitheads doing handstands. The differences between Jason’s early exploits and those of Vic Crowley, however, are as follows:
(1) Even if you take out the entirety of what was established in Friday the 13th, in F13 Part 2 we’re still introduced to our main man throughout the movie with little segments here and there as he and the cast build his legend up with stories and the occasional graphic death. Hatchet spends too much time on getting Ben and the rest out into the swamp and not enough time building up Crowley for us. Instead he’s given a slapdash origin before he’s thrown into our face and we’re just kinda left to run with the carnage. Don’t get me wrong, I like carnage, but the setup for said carnage was done better 25 years earlier.
(2) The ending is such a Friday the 13th ending that it’s almost funny, only it’s done like some kind of “extreme sports” rendition… I don’t know, you’d have to see it to understand what I’m getting at. There’s no doubt that the whole project’s a labor of love for bygone slashers of the eternal ’80s, so not only do you need to be a fan of those flicks to dig the experience, but you need to be okay with these so-called “tribute flicks” too. If you need more story and something with a new flavor you haven’t slapped on your tongue a thousand times before, you’re humping the wrong leg here.
Naturally the movie couldn’t live up to the wall of hype built around it (I really wish I hadn’t seen that damn magazine ad…), but in and of itself it’s a fairly decent way to wreck a couple of hours. The dialogue will either make you laugh, annoy the crap out of you, or start off doing one and then switch to the other. The acting is nothing special and the story is obviously generic, but it’s fun to try and pick out all the little nods to other old school horror flicks. Most importantly though with this type of movie: how’s the gore? It’s excessively graphic and plays to the fans of the red stuff. So, if you just need a little bit of bloodshed to hold you close and whisper sweet nothings into your ear till the sun rises, Hatchet‘ll do pig, Hatchet‘ll do…
Xtro: Hey! So, having seen Hatchet again for the first time since its release, have a helping of my updated thoughts. For starters, as a slasher movie throwback, I have to acknowledge an appreciation for the cameos by Tony Todd, Robert Englund, John Carl Buechler (as the piss slurping bayou ‘billy), and Kane Hodder. Technically Hodder stars as the man behind-the-makeup of Victor Crowley, but his flashback cameo as his own character’s father counts, damn you! I used to be a lot more jaded about cameos in horror flicks because they felt like lazy plays at popping the fanboys/fangirls/fanboths/fanneithers. However, in my more sedate and aged state, I see them less as a tease of what could have been and a fair affection for what they are – brief nods of thanks to the history of the before times. Sadly, in this era of less-sleaze more-scares horror movies, the fan service feels disabled so as not to alienate the more casual viewers who won’t recognize the genre’s forebearers in favor of creating their own lore. Whether this is a creative choice or a studio statute probably vacillates between instances, but either way I enjoy cameos more now that I did a decade ago.
What I don’t appreciate, now or at any other moment in the chronology of the space-time continuum, is poor acting, poorer music, and characters shallower than an ice cube tray. If Adam Green was happy with the job his cast did, then a pox on him for making them look unprofessional. Just because you’re “only” shooting a slasher movie doesn’t mean you don’t have to push your people to put in some effort! Of course, no level of oompf is going to support some of this wastebasket level dialogue, so I’d have to give double downed digits to Mr. Green, given that he was the sole creative accused involved. Deon Richmond and Perry Shen were pretty much the only shining spots of the speakers, and even said shines were dulled well before their parts were purged. As for the music? Like I said, it sucked. That’s all the attention I feel like giving it.
In the face of less-favorable elements, I can throw out a few positives, if for no other reason than to prove that the world hasn’t entirely crushed ALL enjoyment from my life! Kane Hodder is great as VC, reminding us that there never should have been a time that he wasn’t the one playing Mrs. Voorhees’s baby boy. Buechler’s makeup and murder effects are top-notch as always (reminder: contribute to his fight against cancer if you can) and if there’s one thing I can’t deny it’s Hatchet‘s admirable push for practical effects butchery! Also, bonus points to Green for not only modeling his man-monster’s hideous visage after Friday the 13th Part 2 Jason, but for the great “Reverse F13 finale” to finish things off. Thank you for your service, Captain.
Finally, I need to address the ax-wielding elephant in the room – Crowley’s signature weapon-of-choice is NOT A HATCHET! A hatchet is a small, single-bladed ax whose sharp end is used for typical ax stuff, but retains a blunted side for instances where a hammer would be more apropos for the job, like pounding a nail or bludgeoning a flat-earther. What Vic is swinging is a smallened woodsman’s ax, bearing two blades that are used for chopping down trees. It’s less a hatchet and more the standard issue tool for a vertically challenged lumberjack who left their chainsaw at home. Sure, you can say this is a minor detail that shouldn’t be subject to such scrutiny, but imagine a Texas Chainsaw Massacre where Leatherface chases people with a miter saw. See my point now? And if you replied to that with “yeah, the one on top of your head!”, then stop talking to yourself, butt brain! 😛
Before I sign off, would anyone care to shed some dignity and flash me their headlights in exchange for a few Dollar Embargo beads that may or may-not have been made with a near-fatal level of lead contaminated materials? Anybody? Beads for boobs? Necklace to see your knockers? No one? Okay. Bye.
Robert Englund contemplates the amount of his life spent sitting in makeup chairs, getting rubber glued to his face.
Larry the Cable Guy Presents “Moby Dick”.
Someone should’ve told Hodder that Englund was just joking when he said it was “finally time to settle this”.
Nice to see Skeletor take a vacation from the whole “take over Eternia” thing and just wild out for a weekend. You get that groove back, bone face!
Check it out – a woman that’s figured out how to get beads without baring her boobs! She must be going to college for a real degree.
This is why you don’t eat an entire surplus size can of creamed corn before a bar crawl.
From Ken Harper, creator of “The Wiz”, comes his unique take on The Rocky Horror Picture Show – “The Pic”!
“No no no! I keep telling you, man, I’m not Keenan or Kel! I was Rudy’s friend Kenny on ‘The Cosby Show’!”
“Is this your first time on The Bang Bus, boys? This one will finish out our punch card, so the next ride’s free!”
John Carl Buechler is Bear Grylls in the one-man show “Man Vs. Wild: Piss Is Your Life”.
Uh-oh. Shawn looks like he’s about to take this boat ride into Willy Wonka territory.
This still image is all that remains of the canceled Platinum Dunes remake of Motel Hell. Thank Rory fucking Calhoun.
When looking for a chiropractor, be sure they didn’t get their degree from Hooterville Neck Crackers Medical School.
Rocket Raccoon’s origin is a depressing tale indeed.
No, Victor! The festival is called “Burning Man”! You’re not meant to literally immolate yourself!
Blagh! That’s a face not even Pamela Voorhees could love.
Never ask someone nicknamed “Snowball” to explain where it came from. *BLART*
Anubis will return next time in
“Spider-Man’s Not In This One Either”
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