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Monday, October 02, 2017

31 DAYS OF HORROR 2017-Day 2: HATCHET-Director's Cut (2006)

The southern-fried charm of Victor Crowley, aka Hatchetface. It's always a fun time when there's a malformed homicidal maniac running around the swamp.

Mardi Gras just isn't happening for Ben (Joel Moore), who's heartbroken after a bad breakup with his girlfriend, and no amount of boozing and ogling naked tits with his buddies can lift him from his funk. Accompanied by his friend Marcus (Deon Richmond), Ben instead seeks out a reportedly excellent haunted swamp tour and ends up on a questionable boat piloted by a douchey tour guide — described as "Uncle Remus meets Bruce Lee" — with an amateur pornographer, his two moronic would-be starlets, a middle-aged tourist couple, and the markedly unfriendly Marybeth (Tamara Feldman) along for the ride. But what none of the riders know is that the tour is being conducted illegally and its route takes it into the territory of Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder, best known as Jaon Voorhees in four of the FRIDAY THE 13th films), a powerful, deformed maniac known locally as "Hatchetface," thanks to his dad having once nailed him in the face with the titular implement. Not noticing the warning provided by a drunk who hangs out near the swamp, the group embarks on a doomed journey during which they must contend with alligators, getting lost in the rain-soaked nighttime bayou, and an inhumanly strong and homicidal killer.   

Very much a throwback and love letter to the slasher films of the 1980's, HATCHET plays in very familiar and quite tired territory, but it dishes out all of the expected genre tropes with a sense of liveliness and fun that most others in the slasher genre lack. Coming some twenty years after the slasher heyday works to the film's advantage and at no point does it come off like one of the legion of by the numbers, cookie cutter, assembly line gorefests of yore. It knows what it is and it's damned proud of it, so its creators made the most of this modest little shocker. The story is serviceable, with a rather tongue-in-cheek script, and the performances are better than anyone has any right to expect from what amounts to a bloody campfire yarn.

It's moments like this that remind one of the magic of the cinematic art form.

I can't speak for the theatrical cut, but if it were up to me the gore effects in this film would have been allowed to pass with an R-rating. Yeah, they're gory as hell, but it's all obviously make believe and the audience paying to see it certainly didn't put their asses in seats in hope of witnessing some newly-unearthed work by Paddy Chayefsky. What we get here are some very memorable, blood-spraying kills, and as such they are quite crowd-pleasing.

While not an instant classic, HATCHET is certainly worth your time if you have an appreciation for better-than-average backwoods slasher fare. If I had tween daughters who were having a slumber party, this is exactly the kind of DVD I would hand to them so they could traumatize their sleepover guests. I cannot, however, vouch for its sequels...

An excellent tag line.

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