A blog exploring the sexy, shocking, surreal, and silly side of horror films.

May 31, 2010

Hatchet (Review)

Hatchet (2006) 

Director: Adam Green

Hyped excessively during its release, Hatchet came along and established instant horror cred for its young writer/director Adam Green. Full of cameos by horror alumni like Robert Englund, Tony Todd, and Kane Hodder, Hatchet feels like a love letter to gory slashers of the 1980s; unfortunately, its horror-comedy tone and pacing make for a muddled experience before hitting its stride with a frantically bloody finale.


A group of tourists take an ill-conceived haunted swamp tour into the New Orleans bayou that puts them in the path of a bloody real urban legend. Ben (Joel Moore), a college-aged guy who is still hurting after breaking up with his girlfriend, isn't having a fun time amidst the boobs and beer of Mardi Gras, so he guilts his friend Marcus (Deon Richmond) into joining him on a dinky haunted swamp tour. Joining them is a quiet brooding woman with with a secret agenda (Tamara Feldman), the sleazy filmmaker of Bayou Beavers and his two squabbling actresses (Mercedes McNab and Joleigh Fioravanti) whose main job is to drop their tops, and an overly enthusiastic married couple (Richard Riehle and Patrika Darbo) in sweaters and track pants. From their tour captain, they are told the legend of Victory Crowley, a deformed musclebound boy who was accidentally killed by his father's hatchet but whose murderous ghost still haunts the swamp. After the tour boat sinks in the swamp, they realize that Victor Crowley is definitely more material than myth as one by one they are slaughtered in gruesome succession.

Rating: 3 / 5 Crowleys


Hatchet's real claim to fame is the brutally over-the-top visual gore effects. Victor Crowley (Friday the 13th's Kane Hodder in makeup reminiscent of the Elephant Man) begins the film like most slashers by murdering and mutilating with a bladed tool -- in this case the titular hatchet. Eventually, however, Crowley abandons tools and dispatches his victims with his bare hands. Pulling off limbs, tearing apart torsos, and ripping open faces like he's peeling an orange. That's Crowley's style.

 AH, HATCHET! Gesundheit.

As Crowley, Kane Hodder brings more than just stunt experience to the mysterious murderer. Famous for playing Jason Voorhees exclusively from 1988 to 2001, Hodder's real skill is bringing visible personality and quirks to his characters from behind masks and layers of foam and latex. Although the true nature of Crowley is never explained, he has a definite personality that helps sell the over-the-top kill scenes.

The gore is both completely disgusting and hilarious. In its moments of violence, Hatchet reminds me of the gore-hound delights in Peter Jackson's Dead Alive (aka. Braindead). Although Jackson never produced slasher films, I would be very surprised if Adam Green didn't list Peter Jackson's early work as an influence on Hatchet. The gleeful tone and exaggerated blood sprays and splatters are meant to illicit gross-out screams but rarely dread or fear. On the horror-comedy scale, Hatchet falls squarely on the comedy side.


Perhaps to the film's detriment, Hatchet is more comedy than horror. Building from a very jokey introduction, which bogs down the pace of the film, every character save for Marybeth (Tamara Feldman) is a caricature whose exaggerated responses bring a lot of humour to the picture. It's hard to be scared, however, when you're laughing so much and the character deaths are handled in an equally funny yet preposterous style. In fact, several points of tension early in the film are deliberately undercut with humour, but this dilutes later scenes that are trying to be genuinely scary.


At times, Hatchet felt like a very gory version of Scooby-Doo while the young folks run around in circles trying to figure out how to stop Crowley. I liked the humour, but the film needed some tighter plotting and to embrace its humour fully. Look for standout comedic performances from Mercedes McNab (Harmony from Buffy and Angel fame) as the blond bimbo and Parry Shen as the inept tour captain.


Hopefully by now you've come to realize that "sexy" in the langauge of Monster Chiller Horror Theatre means simply "boobs" and "nudity." Set during Mardi Gras, Hatchet has boobs to spare.

I'm beginning to think this is more than a wardrobe malfunction

Mercedes McNab and Joleigh Fioravanti play two women who are making a career out of appearing in Bayou Beavers, a Girls Gone Wild style series. Their nudity is exploitative, but the film knows it and uses it to humourous advantage, turning these two characters into very silly caricatures of the ditsy blond and the struggling actress who feels above it all ("I went to NYU!" "Never heard of it."). So, if you're looking for some cheeky, topless cavorting, you've got a friend in Hatchet.


Hatchet's not a bad movie, but it's certainly not the masterpiece many touted it to be when it was first released. Fun, disposable, and full of nudity and over-the-top gore, it's a great party movie. As a narrative experience, it has a flawed structure, but it certainly deserves the attention it got for trying to bring back the fun of American slashers.

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