Sunday, June 19, 2011

Hatchet I & II

I needed to watch another slasher film that would leave a less awful taste in my mouth after Halloween's remakes, so here we go!

Hatchet starts off as any movie should. With Freddy Kreuger as a harpoon wielding redneck hunting for gators with his son before they both get killed in an over the top gorey fashion.
You see, Hatchet is kind of like the comedy equivalent to Rob Zombie's Halloween. Sure it's over the top, but it's portrayed in an exaggerated and completely unrealistic way, and in a tongue-in-cheek comedic way reminscent of Feast.
The film quickly cuts to a credit sequence made up entirely of bare breasts and Marilyn Manson. That's such an odd sentence. Basically, it's Mardi Gras, and nothing says Mardi Gras like a song about fans not giving a shit about the lyrics or meaning of a song, only happy that they get a song to sing along to and bob their head with. ...actually, that really works well with the theme of this movie. Hatchet is pretty much a huge, exaggerated caricature of modern slasher films that also appeals to the same people that really love modern slasher films.
We get our cast, which is still largely a bunch of slasher film stereotypes. We've got The Normal Guy who is our hero, played by that nerdy guy from Avatar and Dodgeball. He's got Black Friend, they've got a Stoner Friend that we quickly lose. There's Two Sluts, The Asshole, we've got two Old People that I swear were in Office Space.
The film's also full of cameos. I mean within the first ten minutes we get both Robert Englund and Tony Todd, it's like Urban Legends all over again. Maybe I should do the UL movies next...
Englund and Todd are two actors I wish I could see more of in actually good movies. Same goes for Dourif and McDowell back from the Halloween films. I mean, I heard McDowell's in the new Silent Hill film (before you ask, I thought the film was alright as a special effects film, subpar in every other respect) but that doesn't really say anything positive about the new movie. I mean on the plus side, he's in it, so I'll like his scenes. On the negative, he's in it, and he's almost never in anything that doesn't suck.
In the first 15 minutes we already get two major horror cameos, plenty of gore, at least 25 pairs of breasts, vomiting, and girl-on-girl kissing. I think this is the kind of movie Rob Zombie would do if he was put on meds, and wasn't trying to be the grindhouse answer to Quentin Tarantino.
The plot's pretty simple: Two dimensional 20-somethings (and two old people) go on a haunted tour and hear the legend of something that turns out to not be a legend, and kills them one by one. Of course, this isn't the kind of movie you watch for plot.
I do have something of a complaint already: They do kinda hit you over the head with the fact that it's a parody film early on. I guess I can get why, it's often hard to tell if a bad movie is genuinely bad or if it's a parody of bad films. Doesn't help that many directors claim that their film was a parody only -after- it bombs.
At one point I even considered that maybe Rob Zombie's Halloween films were just a parody, but I kinda doubt that. The few comedic moments were the typical "rednecks saying offensive things and dying" bits and various references (and the Weird Al Cameo), that and the fact that all of Rob Zombie's movies are exactly the same fucking way.
Also, unlike Halloween, I've already laughed several times watching this. The old couple (especially the Jumping to Conclusions guy from Office Space) and the tour leader just steal this movie.
Sometimes I think the horror genre is still a bit sexist and racist. I mean most horror films depend at least on the former. We always need the random tit shots, we still see a lot of bimbos and sluts... When we do have a female protagonist these days they tend to be either completely unlikable (Drag Me To Hell comes to mind), or at best we get a Whedonesque "sexy scrawny chick kicks the ass of some big hulking masculine thing" like in the remake of Texas Chainsaw Massacre (or we get the Resident Evil series, which has less to do with the video games and more to do with Milla Jovovich acting like Neo). We need a new Ripley. Ripley was badass, likable, and looked like she could make you her bitch. I'd recommend this new Ripley-type character be played by Michelle Rodriguez, just because she's like fucking Vasquez from Aliens defictionalized. I'd also honestly love to see people turn away from the need for constant sex appeal. Hell, I remember seeing a horror movie poster, maybe a reader could point me towards it, a couple years back that was basically "Here's a chick's pantied ass, also she's looking into an evil mirror."
Sorry that I went off on that tangent, but this movie does -constantly- show off bare breasts, to the degree that it's irritating.
Also I want to address a common complaint about a certain horror trope. I hear people complain all the time that it's hard to find that many places where you don't have cellphone coverage, and how dumb it is that in horror films nobody ever has bars when they need them. I'm in the Bay Area of CA, and I use AT&t. I have to either walk outside for a bit, or go to one small corner of this house to make a call. Cellphone coverage is still pretty awful depending on where you are (even in some major cities. AT&T's about as useful as a walkie talkie in most of CA), despite what the maps in their commercials would make you think.
Moving along...
The backstory for the big killer of the movie is hilarious, and features Kane Hodder. If that name doesn't sound familiar to you, he's easily the biggest name in terms of horror movie stuntmen. He's also easily the best Jason actor, and a really awesome guy if you ever get the chance to meet him.
This movie almost makes me think of some sort of superviolent Scooby Doo film. It's hilarious, clichefilled, and uses several gags that Scooby uses. I pray to god the Harlem Globetrotters pop up in the sequel. Man now I'm craving the Harlem Globetrotters episodes of Scooby.
Seriously. The nerdy Avatar guy is Shaggy, token black guy is Scooby (he even clings to a tree branch in fear and rants about how scared he is and they have to talk him down), the badass chick with a gun is like if Freddy and Daphne merged into one.
The death scenes in this movie are hilarious. They're all over the top, unrealistic, and just funny as hell looking. One person gets their jaw pulled all the way back so that the back of their head is behind them, and they have an unnaturally long tongue swinging up above them. It's all very cartoonish, but very well done. It's the kind of thing Tom Savini would do, and that's easily the highest compliment I can give horror film gore effects, as Savini is the -king- of gore.
The film's ending is marvelous, and completely takes you off guard. I love it.
Altogether, this is a fantastic horror-comedy and I'd pretty highly recommend it.

Now for Hatchet II!

...which takes place immediately after 1 apparently!
Right of the bat this film is just as hilarious as the first film, if not moreso. I laughed my ass off at the scene where someone goes through the footage Shapiro shot with his camcorder.
We get some obvious cliche thrown in where the lead female and sole survivor of the first film has a meaningful name. You know that whenever someone pauses after someone else reveals their name, that it means they're the Chosen One or something. It's kinda irritating, and although they always wait until later to reveal it, it's almost always obvious what the reveal is going to be.
Anyway, she goes to talk to Tony Todd from the first film to find out this big family secret involving her dad and Victor Crowley, and I brace for cliches. Instead, I get some more hilarity, and an Evil Dead homage. Thanks, movie.
Kane Hodder has a gigantic neck. I just needed to get that out. It's more like his head is directly connected to his body, just stretched upwards. Also during all of this we get one of the most hilarious stock screams ever. That one that's like "Uhwaaah, uhwaaah, waaaah!" It's like my third favorite stock scream, after Howie Long scream and Wilhelm scream.
The female lead from the first film is kind of irritating here. She slips in and out of a thick southern accent that keeps alternating between various southern accents, also for some reason she's stuck in this sort of quizzical expression with one eyebrow perpetually raised. One could argue this is caused by the small cut on her face, but it just looks odd. Like she's constantly questioning everything.
By the 35 minute mark we get our plot: Rev. Zombie (Tony Todd) offers a reward of $500 to go out and retrieve his boat and kill Victor Crowley, while at the same time the lead woman from the last film has to uncover more about Victor Crowley because... because. Much like the first film, it's more or less an excuse plot to get a bunch of comedic characters out in harm's way for some creative deaths. This time we've got a bunch of rednecks and biker types though. Also Lloyd Kaufman's got a quick cameo. Yeah. Lloyd fucking Kaufman, of Troma. The man behind Toxic Avenger, Nuke 'Em High, etc. We also get a quick reference to Leslie Vernon and Jason Voorhees, god I love this movie already. This feels like a bunch of b-grade horror geeks just got together and made a tribute to slasher films, and it's just great.
Continuing the Scooby trend of the first film, the large mob ends up splitting into pairs, to make it easier for Victor to kill them. This is actually lampshaded, complete with a character outright comparing it to Scooby Doo.
The film's a bit slower with its kills than the first film. It's 53 minutes into it and so far only one death. ...and boy the second I point this out, Crowley goes on his rampage. ...Wilhelm scream! Oh god. We're 2/3 away from the holy trinity of stock screams.
The deaths in this film are even more insane and over the top than before, all done in an exaggeratedly cartoonish manner. We get axe-to-the-vagina people getting chainsawed in the crotch until their balls drop off, one guy gets curb stomped... it's just hilarious.
The film's pretty damn good too. It's not quite as awesome as the first to me, as it's a bit too wacky at times, but it's still quite hilarious and a must-watch to anyone that liked the first film.

There's a third film in planning right now, I'm curious how it'll work out. We'll see in 2012!


  1. Seriously? "...the female lead from the first film"?

    That's Danielle Harris, and she replaced the actress from the first film. Tony Todd you treat like horror royalty but you don't even name Danielle Harris?


  2. Considering that I watched and reviewed Halloween 4 & 5, yeah, I feel bad for not catching her, or even mentioning Tom Holland (the amazing director Fright Night and Child's Play, as well as the uncle of The Offspring's frontman) who played Bob in Hatchet 2.
    I did these reviews while watching the films, so for the most part I didn't research them, and sometimes I hit full durp and don't recognize someone, even if they were in multiple films I've reviewed (Ticks and Stepmonster both share an actress, but I didn't bring this up in the Ticks review.)