“Old School American Horror.”
Shit, that sounds good, doesn’t it? That’s what writer-director Adam Green’s 2006 indie-horror mini-sensation Hatchet (which has now spawned a sequel that came and went in ultra-limited theatrical release pretty fast, but should be available on DVD in the hopefully-not-too-distant future) promises, and I’m pleased to say that it delivers.
Need some evidence? How about cameos from cult horror icons Robert Englund (as a backwoods redneck), Tony Todd (as a French Quarter witch doctor/tour guide), and Richard Riehle (as a loudmouth tourist/soon-to-be-victim)?
Not enough for ya? How about most people’s favorite Jason, Kane Hodder, as the slasher (or hatcheter) himself, Victor Crowley?
Shit, how about that name — Victor Crowley, that’s got “iconic horror character” written all of it, doesn’t it?
Shit, I can see you’re still not convinced.
How about a healthy serving of bare boobs (not all of which are that great)? How about a simple-ass plot about a dumped-and-heartbroken college schmuck name Ben (Joel Moore) who goes down to Mardi Gras to forget his troubles but can’t get his mind off his ex so he heads out on a guided “haunted bayou” tour with a buddy and ends up hearing about the Crowley legend — the story of a horribly deformed young boy who was protected by his father until the locals came to kill him and Victor’s dad, while trying to save him, accidentally puts a hatchet through his skull — only to find that the legend is real, Victor survived, and now he’s hunting down and killing anybody who comes into his neck of the woods (or, in this case, swamp)?
Still not enough? Dear God you people are tough to please.
Okay, how about awesome effects by none other than John Carl Buechler himself, who also puts in a cameo in the film?
How about a huge body count and gruesome-as-hell deaths?
How about a totally insane non-ending of an ending that rips off both the original Friday the 13th and the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre at the same time?
How about I shut the fuck and you see Hatchet for yourself and come back here later and tell me about how right I was?
Now that sounds like a plan! Hatchet is available in an unrated director’s cut on DVD from Anchor Bay and features a flawless anamorphic widescreen transfer, a terrific 5.1 surround audio mix, and a great commentary by writer-director Green and co-producer Scott Altomare that’s well worth a listen, among assorted other extras. It clocks in at right around 90 minutes just like you’d expect, and while it does nothing — and I do mean nothing — new, that’s sorta the point.
Hatchet isn’t about breaking new ground, defying convention, subverting audience expectations, redefining the slasher genre for a new generation of fans, or any of that shit. Hell, it’s not even trying to be particularly scary, and its tongue is planted firmly in its cheek pretty much the whole way through. It’s more funny than it is frightening, but it never loses sight of what it’s trying to achieve and retains an attitude of playful respect toward all the horror conventions it’s aping throughout.
Simply put, this flick is about one thing, and one thing only — delivering the goods. And damn if it doesn’t do that in spades.
Hatchet is the kind of movie that could only be made by hard-core 70s and 80s horror fans, and it’s only made for hard-core 70s and 80s horror fans. If you love Michael, Jason, Leatherface, and Freddy, rest assured you’re gonna love Victor Crowley and Hatchet — and it’s gonna love you right back.