I went into Hatchet completely blind. The only knowledge I had on it was word of mouth from a friend, claiming it to be a great flick. I had no idea that this film was a huge cult phenomenon around the net. So, when the opportunity arose to give the disc a spin, I went for it. I didn’t even read the back of the box when I popped it in. I wanted to know as little as possible and, I have to say, that method left me utterly and totally surprised when the movie’s end credits popped up about 85 minutes later. Now, I have to say that Hatchet is completely not what I expected.
Hatchet spins a terrifying tale of tragedy and comeuppance from beyond the grave. Victor Crowley is a hideously deformed boy, living in seclusion with his father (Kane Hodder) in an isolated cabin deep in the Louisiana bayou. When a Halloween prank initiated by local kids goes terribly awry, Victor is accidentally killed in a vicious twist of irony. Years later, a tourist group visiting New Orleans’ “haunted swamps” stumble upon the remnants of that shocking event, transforming an evening of seemingly innocent fun into a horrific nightmare, from which there may be no escape. Somehow, Crowley is on the prowl again, and these innocent tourists are at his mercy.
I want to start off by mentioning my favorite moment in the film. As the tourists, as mentioned above in the synopsis, flee for their lives from Crowley, they hear the ring tone of a cell phone one of the members dropped earlier in the night. The ringtone? “I Don’t Want to Wait” by Paula Cole, the theme to Dawson’s Creek. I could barely contain myself.
This film is an absolute love-letter to those fun 1980’s slasher-flicks. It’s fun, it’s fast, it’s packed with blood and gore, and it never lets up for the entire time. Those coming into this movie expecting a straight horror flick like the ones which litter the cinemas today will be sorely disappointed. This film is just like those slasher flicks from the 1980s we all snuck into theatres or stayed up later at night to watch. The film is indeed set in modern times and such, but this movie definitely feels like it’s right out of the 1980s. All of the typical slasher stereotypes is there, like the lead male character who just got dumped (Joel David Moore), the soft-core porn actresses, the other girl with the secret, the con artist, the token African-American, the incredibly innocent bystanders, it’s all in here, and they all poke fun at themselves.
But horror fans will absolutely love this film. The kills are fast and inventive, the comedic timing is just about perfect, and the cast is generally likable, with each usually giving us a few chuckles. You know all the characters here are fodder, and there’s actually a couple scenes where they poke fun at that, particularly one humorous one involving the mysterious contents of a tree bush, contents which have the characters all too scared to look inside. Of course, moments later, Crowley, the feature killer in this flick, pops up and jams a circular saw into the neck of one of the soft-core porn actresses. And that happens a lot. There’s a few moments of calm and then, suddenly, the Crowley literally pops out of nowhere, sometimes just walking into frame, it seems, and causes all types of problems. And boy, does he kill in very creative ways. Weather it’s ripping the top half of somebody’s face off, ripping of their arms, legs, assorted body parts, or just simply hacking them to bits, there’s a lot of blood.
If I have any complaint, it’s that sometimes showing scenes of blood splattering against trees and shrubbery can slow down the flick at time. It’s a minor nuisance, but nothing that takes away from the movie. The film’s low budget also cuts into the flick from time to time, but it’s nothing too distracting. In fact, it adds to the charm. It’s a still a ridiculously fun homage to the bygone days of slasher flicks. I can see why this film had such a strong online following, eventually turning it into something of a phenomenon in the online horror circles.
So, surely a movie that was such a big hit with fans will get a packed DVD, right? Well, Anchor Bay has come through again, providing a packed disc which compliments the main feature. First up is the audio commentary with Writer/Director Adam Green, Cinematographer Will Barratt and Actors Tamara Feldman, Joel David Moore and Deon Richmond. A pretty informative track with the cast and crew reminiscing about the experience. Next up is the pretty extensive “Making of Hatchet” mini-doc, which basically covers the production of the movie and allows for the cast and crew to chime in with their own take on the movie’s history. After that is “Meeting Victor Crowley,” providing a look into the creation of this new face in horror. “Guts and Gore” goes over the different kills and how they were technically worked out, showing again just how either extremely easy or complicated this process can be. The final feature is a rather fluffy extra where Director Ada Green discusses his decades-long friendship with “Twisted Sister” front man Dee Snider. After this, things are wrapped up with a Gag Reel and some trailers. All in all, a look at the film’s overall production and history.
And, no worries, the audio and video is top-notch. Everything looks clean and crisp and the audio is as clear as can be. Note that the rated DVD release for Hatchet contains slightly different extras, so you may want to consult the Anchor Bay website for more information.
Overall, it goes without saying that Hatchet: Unrated Director’s Cut definitely comes Recommended for all horror fans. It’s a delicious and fun look back at the 1980’s era of slasher flicks, all the while updating it for today. It’s the perfect movie to watch with friends, without a doubt. The comedic timing is dead on and the kills are so over the top and deliriously fun to watch. And, thankfully, the DVD comes with a substantial amount of extras to help back the main feature. The extras give fans a nice glimpse into the cult phenomenon and should make repeated viewings definitely worth it. Anchor Bay has delivered on a solid DVD release, a release which will likely find its home in every horror fan’s collection. If you’re looking for some laughs and inventive kills, Hatchet: Unrated Director’s Cut is definitely worth giving a swing.
Hatchet: Unrated Director’s Cut hits DVD on December 18th, 2007.