Sunday, March 1, 2009

Hatchet

Billed as a return to “Old School American Horror” Hatchet (directed by Adam Green) adeptly manages to recapture the essence of the slasher genre and splash it up on the big screen with a welcome mixture of humor, gratuitous nudity and gore. This is definitely not the modern Scream-style clean horror film that is cast with the actors from “Dawson’s Creek” or “The O.C.” Although it was released in 2006, it has the appearance of the direct-to-VHS horror films of a bygone era, and in an obvious nod to its predecessors and to the icons of the trade the movie has cameo appearances from Robert Englund (Freddy Krueger) and Tony Todd (Candyman). Even Kane Hodder (Jason Voorhees, Leatherface) plays double duty as both the father of Victor Crowley and the indestructible Victor Crowley himself, a grotesquely deformed oversized madman that survived being hit in the face with a hatchet by his father in a failed attempt to save him from a burning shack, in this brilliant throwback to the ‘80’s.

The movie opens as two unfortunate alligator poachers are unceremoniously dismembered by some unseen bad guy in the deep recesses of an uncharted Louisiana swamp. Meanwhile, the real story begins in New Orleans during Mardi Gras when a group of friends make a misguided attempt at cheering up our would-be hero, Ben (played by comedian Joel Moore), who has just broken up with his long-time girlfriend. Boobs and booze fix everything. Right, fellas? Especially boobs. However, rather than be constantly reminded of his lost lass’ honkers, Ben talks his friend Marcus (Deon Richmond, “Bud” from the Cosby Show) into going on a grabasstically disorganized boat tour of the local haunted swamps. Of course this lands them squarely into the middle of our boogeyman’s turf when the boat inevitably runs aground. The other unfortunate members of the tour include the expected laundry list of mismatched personalities, including a scam artist, his two hot dupes, a Midwestern couple, and a woman on a vendetta. Soon the one liners and entrails start to fly as Crowley hacks up our unfortunate crew in a multitude of creative ways. The gas-powered belt sander to the face is a particular delight.

The hilarious dialog and John Carl Buechler's outrageously gross special effects are a welcome change from the torture-porn films like Hostel, Saw, and Captivity that have been the rage lately. We’ve definitely been taking our horror movies too seriously in the past few years. The casting of a comedian as the protagonist and relying on the talents of Joel Murray (One Crazy Summer) as our scam-artist, Shapiro, definitely lightens the mood even as the body count rises and the amputated limbs pile up. Although Hatchet is not in the same class as Friday the 13th, Halloween, or Nightmare on Elm Street it definitely pays tribute to them without stepping on their toes. In the tradition of the indestructible antagonists of the past like Jason, Michael, Freddie, and John Kirby (Silent Rage…you didn’t expect that I forgot about Silent Rage, did you?) Victor Crowley does them all justice in the end. Hatchet is a welcome throw back to the low-budget slasher gore fests of the 1980’s, and I definitely look forward to Adam Green’s next attempt. Hopefully it will start a slow movement back to the grainy irreverent films that we’ve grown to love and desperately miss.

1 comment:

TJ said...

Yes, but is it good? The real question is, are the breasts blood-spattered? Nothing like fake blood on the rack...