Posts Tagged ‘kane hodder’

AlmostMercyPoster

If there’s one thing we’re all about around these parts, it’s shining a light on low-budget independent horror that deserves a wider audience, and as far as low budgets go, well — they don’t get much lower than the $150,000 that director/co-writer (along with Bernard Dolan) Tom DeNucci shelled out for his 2015 mini-masterpiece Almost Mercy. The flick certainly looks like it cost a good deal more than that, though, so credit to our favorite new genre wunderkind for knowing how to make a little go a long way.

You know what’s doubly impressive, though? The fact that it’s a fairly safe wager that a good chunk of that $150,000 went to fan-favorite actors Bill Moseley and Kane Hodder (who play a pair of adult “authority figures” — Moseley being a preacher and Hodder a coach), both of whom probably showed up for no more than a day or two each to get their scenes “in the can.” So the actual working budget DeNucci had to play with after paying those stars is probably somewhere closer to $75,000-$100,000.

almost-mercy-emily-e1432167793512

Still, like I said, he does wonders with it. Our two principal characters here are a pair of burgeoning young sociopaths named Emily (played by Danielle Guldin) and Jackson (Jesse Dufault), who have both endured horrific abuse of the physical and psychological variety over the course of their short lives and have every reason to be the ticking time-bombs they so obviously are. You’re going to be scared shitless by what these kids are capable of, yet completely sympathetic to their plight, as well, thanks to a very smart script and two absolutely “spot-on” performances. The eye of the needle that DeNucci has to thread here is very tiny indeed, given that material this challenging could easily go off the rails, but damn if he and his cast don’t pull it off.

owLgpFo9ZVs.maxresdefault

One word of warning — the shocking subject matter that forms the beating heart of this story is pretty much front-and-center from word “go,” so if you’re uncomfortable with horror that is all too immediate, you might want to give Almost Mercy a pass. Yes, there is plenty of over-the-top blood, gore, and assorted viscera to be had here, but by and large the most stomach-churning stuff on display comes in the form of situations that we know to be way too real, and way too tragic. You’ve been warned.

almost-mercy-kane-hodder-e1432167835759

That’s probably about as specific as I should get here, given that I don’t want to dull the impact of the body-blows that DeNucci delivers, so at this point I’ll zero in — briefly — on my only real beef with the flick, which is that it really does lay it on pretty thick at times. I’m not sure what other way there would be to play it, mind you, but there probably are methods by which to communicate the excruciating evil our protagonists have been subjected to without, I dunno, “piling on.” In a weird way it reminds me of the main gripe that I had with Precious, which is that pretty much every single goddamn bad thing in the world happens to that film’s central character with no real let-up whatsoever. I get that there are way too many people for whom that sort of life is a sad reality, and at least DeNucci lets his characters get some payback, but when you lay it on a little too thick it can start to feel less like a story and more like a laundry-list of atrocities being dumped on some hapless individuals. I’m not saying that Almost Mercy veers completely into that territory, but it does come awfully close on a few occasions.

almost-mercy-emily-back

Still, even that minor quibble doesn’t detract from the sock-loaded-with-ball-bearings beating this movie dishes out time and again. Almost Mercy is a brutally honest and even more brutally powerful slice of celluloid horror, and I would urge you to either catch it n Netflix, or pick it up on DVD from Screen Media, ASAP. If you’re in the mood for something as altogether unforgettable as it is altogether unpleasant, you really can’t do much better than this.

 

PHPuyppW7qvfSY_1_m

It occurs to me that I’m kind of late to the party with this one, since Hatchet III actually came out last year, but whatever — I’ve reviewed the first two films in Adam Green’s self-proclaimed “old-school slasher” series, and it’s high time I reviewed this one, as well, even if, by all rights, I probably should have seen it sooner than I did (which was just last night, for the record).

It also worth noting that, unlike my usually way-too-verbose ramblings, my reviews of Hatchet and Hatchet II were actually quite short, and there’s probably no reason to break that streak here — after all, you  pretty much know what you’re getting into with these flicks, and even though creator Green has passed on the directing chores this time to long-time camera operator BJ McDonnell, he still wrote the script and he’s on hand (in whatever capacity) as an executive producer, so things aren’t gonna be that much different.

Which, I guess, is both good and bad. It’s good in terms of continuity (the story here picks up at the exact moment the last film left off) and style (it feels for all intents and purposes like Green may as well have directed this one himself), but it’s bad news if you want something a little bit different or challenging (which, admittedly, most fans of the series probably don’t). The blood, guts, innards, entrails, and other various viscera all fly more freely than ever in Hatchet III, to be sure, and since that pretty much represents the raison d’etre of what Green and his cohorts are trying to accomplish here, ya gotta say — job well done on that score. But is it just me, or is all of this starting to get more than just a little bit stale?

hatchet-III-Movie-2013-8

Danielle Harris is back as full-time “final girl” Marybeth, and she’s given plenty of opportunity to do what she does best — you love Danielle Harris, love Danielle Harris, we all love Danielle Harris — and it’s nice to see some familiar genre faces turn up (look for Zach Galligan as the sheriff leading a doomed expedition into the swamps to track down Crowley and Sid Haig in a memorably OTT cameo) for the party, but some of the “second generation” (nice-speak for “nepotism”) casting decisions are questionable at best, like Robert Diago DoQui (son of legendary blaxploitation stalwart Robert DoQui) as a personality-free deputy and Cody Blue Snider (son of Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider) as a typically annoying twenty-something, but no real matter — when the time comes for them to meet their end, they  all do it in style, and we all know that nodoby dispatches his victims better than Kane Hooder (even if he never gets to show his face in any of his most memorable roles). So yeah — for what it sets out to do, this flick does it as well as you’d hope and/or expect.

Hatchet-3-03

Dark Sky Films has done a nice job with the Blu-Ray (and, I’m assuming, the DVD) release, as well —- picture and sound are both flawless, as you’d figure from a new production, and the disc is loaded with extras including a couple of “making-of” featurettes, the trailer (of course), and two feature-length commentaries, one with the cast and one with the crew, that are both pretty fun to listen to. The shoot for this one sounds like it was positively grueling, but all in all everyone’s spirits seem high as they observe their handiwork. Again, job well done here.

So what, you rightly ask, is the problem, exactly? Good question — and not necessarily the easisest one to answer, but I get the feeling that Hatchet is a franchise in serious danger of jumping the shark. We’ve got some “voodoo curse” elements thrown into the mix here that have always lurked in the background, I guess, but become more prominent “crutch factors” this time out; the laughs are a little flatter; the “old school” vibe is not nearly as novel as it once was — lots of little things, I guess. But the most prominent death spiral that Green and Co. have gotten themselves into is one of their own making, and is the toughest one to pull out of : simply put, they’re always having to top themselves.

Think about it : every single one of Victor Crowley’s murders is more bloody, spectacular, tasteless, and physically and scientifically impossible than the previous one. And when you run up the body count as high as ol’ Vic does, that means you’ve gotta find some new way to pull out all the stops about 15 or 20 times in each film. It’s worked so far, but it’s starting to wear pretty thin, and any horror series that has devolved to the point where the only reason you’re watching it is to see just how fucking crazy and outlandish the next killing will be is one that’s starting to run on fumes. Everybody is still giving it their all here, that much is obvious, but it seems like they’ve pushed the whole concept about as far as it can possibly go, and maybe even a bit further. There’s no shame in quitting while you’re still at least marginally ahead, is there? Don’t get me wrong — I had a good time watching Hatchet III. It was pretty much exactly what I was expecting it to be, and that’s just fine. But I think it’s time to let Victor Crowley take a much-deserved rest for a good half-decade or so. He’s a fun, memorable, absolutely over-the-top character, and I’d hate to see him overstay his welcome.

evnw56gufcytfnqzgkvo

Then again — most of the ’80s slashers he’s based on did just that, so maybe continuing to milk this cash cow to the point where all it’s got left is a few runny dribbles is part of that whole “old school” thing they’re going for. To be followed, of course, by the inevitable “re-imagining” of the series. The Hatchet fracshise might be starting to feel a bit threadbare, but who knows? Maybe it’s only just begun.

"Hatchet" Movie Poster

“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.