“Tell me this is part of the tour.“
I gotta be honest and confess I hadn’t watched Hatchet until this write-up. I’ve seen the comic-book series based on the films over the years on comic store shelves and knew it was based on a horror flick, but it never popped out at me as a franchise that I was dying to see. And boy, it seems I’ve been missing out on a classic and cheesy slasher flick.
To be clear, Hatchet (2006), is solid B-movie slasher trash. Annoyed at first, I eventually let my expectations drop to the floor when I realized the film was a satire and basked in its absurdity, slasher milieu and comedic narrative.
A questionable tour guide played by Parry Shen leads a group of mostly tourists on a late-night ghost-seeking boat ride in the bayou around New Orleans. Among the doomed passengers is an elderly couple, a wanna-be Porn director and his two gratuitously topless ‘film’ starlets (one played by Mercedes McNab, Harmony from Buffy The Vampire Slayer), two bro-friends, one played by Deon Richmond (Scream 3) and the other, the movies ‘leading’ man played by Joel Moore (who I kept thinking was Jay from Tropic Thunder/This Is the End – seriously the dudes look exactly alike) and a Louisiana native looking for her brother and father she suspects was killed by a ghost. The ghost in question is Victor Crowley, a misshapen swamp boy who was murdered by his own father, accidentally, a decade ago. The local legend is that Victor stalks the swamp, killing any who wander into his area of the marsh. And of course, the legend is true and Victor proceeds to kill the group, one-by-one throughout the rest of the movie.
Joel Moore (left, and Leading man in Hatchet)
who I kept thinking was Jay Baruchel (right, Tropic Thunder)
The film is textbook in its plot, with little surprises along the way and looks somewhat amateurish, which seems to have been the intent as a throw-back to classic slasher films. What sets it apart is the abundance of horror icons in the roles – besides the main cast (mentioned above) the film opens with Robert Englund, Freddy-fucking-Krueger himself, getting butchered by Victor (off-screen unfortunately). And who is playing Victor Crowley? Kane-fucking-Hodder (Jason Voorhees and Leatherface). Add to this mix, is a guest appearance by Tony-fucking-Todd (Candyman). Wall-to-wall horror beasts!
But even without this smorgasbord of horror icons, the film is also surprising witty with its dialogue, leaning rather hard into campy comedy. Hit or miss at times, it’s got a definite ‘meta’ feel to it that reminded me of the Scream franchise, not taking itself super serious but serious enough to have the characters afraid for their lives. It was amusing, if not laugh-out-loud riotous but adds to the films charm. The comedy is delivered by some genuinely likable characters that are slightly more than one-dimensional but not much more than that. And of course – the kills are friggan’ awesome, with some sick practical effects. Truly some memorable, unique and a variety of never-before-seen ones that, like the cast, set the movie apart from its peers in the genre. Overall the film is bare-bones, focused on the elements meant to make an enjoyable slasher – and it delivers.
By no means a classic, Hatchet is a solid b-movie, campy slasher ride. It adds an awesome horror icon to the fold- Victor Crowley, vengeful revenant returned from the dead to cause death and destruction on any who trespass into his swamp – like pesky D&D characters and their puny weapons.
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Like music? Me too – as much as I wanted to add Ozzy Osbourne’s Mr. Crowley to the mix, the plot of the song seemed a mismatch – so instead, Bark At the Moon – which may be about a werewolf, but the lyrics could easily reference a revenant, or Victor himself.