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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Adam Green
Cast:
Joel Moore, Tamara Feldman, Deon Richmond, Kane Hodder, Mercedes McNab, Parry Shen, Robert Englund
Writing Credits:
Adam Green

Tagline:
Stay out of the swamp.

Synopsis:
Get ready for one of the most talked-about, red-blooded American horror movies of the past 20 years! When a group of New Orleans tourists take a cheesy haunted swamp tour, they slam face-first into the local legend of deformed madman Victor Crowley. What follows is a psycho spree of seat-jumping scares, eye-popping nudity, skull-splitting mayhem and beyond. Joel David Moore, Deon Richmond and Mercedes McNab star - along with horror icons Tony Todd (Candyman), Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street) and Kane Hodder (Friday the 13th) - in this screamingly funny carnage classic that Fangoria hails as "a no-hold-barred homage to the days when slasher films were at their reddest and wettest!"

Box Office:
Budget
$1.5 million.
Domestic Gross
$155.873 thousand.

MPAA:
Rated R

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio:
English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 84 min.
Price: $29.97
Release Date: 9/7/2010

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Director / Co-Producer / Writer Adam Green and Actor Kane Hodder
• Audio Commentary with Director / Co-Producer / Writer Adam Green, Co-Producer / Cinematographer Will Barratt and Actors Tamara Feldman, Joel David Moore and Deon Richmond
• Five Featurettes
• Gag Reel
• Trailer


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Hatchet [Blu-Ray] (2006)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 25, 2011)

With a title like Hatchet, a movie can follow one of two paths. First, it can be a biopic about 70s southern rock band Molly Hatchet. Second, it can be a gory horror flick.

Perhaps someday we’ll get a fascinating look at Molly Hatchet’s exploits, but 2006’s Hatchet instead follows the second path. Set in New Orleans, Mardi Gras attracts the usual band of drunken revelers such as college guys Ben (Joel David Moore) and Marcus (Deon Richmond).

Moping about a recent breakup, Ben wants to avoid the usual Mardi Gras beer ‘n’ boobs, so he pursues a haunted swamp tour that he’d heard was interesting. Ben drags along Marcus and they meet up with a group of others that includes a Midwestern married couple (Richard Riehle and Patrika Darbo), a soft-porn director (Joel Murray) and his models (Mercedes McNab and Joleigh Fioreavanti), a sullen young woman with a secret (Tamara Feldman) and an obnoxious tour guide named Shawn (Parry Shen).

Along the way, Shawn tells them about the legend of mass murderer Victor Crowley. They pass the alleged Crowley home and find out the myth might actually be true when the boat gets stuck on rocks and they’re left on shore. Violence ensues.

A whole generation of filmmakers appears to view the 80s as the golden age of horror flicks. I lived through that era and can see the rationale for this, as we certainly got scads of bloody scarefests back then. However, most of them weren’t any damned good, which makes me feel that their glorification falls into the “rose-colored glasses” domain.

Since the directors who grew up on these movies are now making their own flicks, we see more than minor influences in current horror efforts. Hatchet goes beyond a demonstration of influences to become a full-fledged love letter to 80s horror. How else can you explain a cast that includes Robert “Freddie Krueger” Englund, Tony “Candyman” Todd and Kane “Jason Voorhees” Hodder?

You can’t, and their presence inspires nervousness that Hatchet might be nothing more than a campy take on 80s flicks. To some degree, it does go down that path, but it never degenerates into genre parody. Oh, it has fun with conventions, and it forces its participants to act out some of the dumbest mistakes horror characters make, but it still wants to be a real scarefest, not just a goofy comedy take on the subject.

Does it succeed? To some degree, though I actually think it works better as a comedy. It includes some genuinely funny moments, such as the scene with the scary voodoo man who worries more about lawsuits than about evil spirits. The film also has a good time with its one-dimensional characters and never tries to be anything more than a bloody romp.

As for the actual horror scenes, they fall into the Friday the 13th tradition. It’s no coincidence that Hodder plays the movie’s malformed villain, as this flick’s Victor Crowley is an almost literal clone of Jason Voorhees. His kills work in the same manner as those found in the Friday movies: Victor pops up out of nowhere and uses various nasty methods to off his victims.

Really nasty, as a matter of fact. This Blu-ray includes the movie’s unrated edition, and it appears that it differs from the theatrical cut only in terms of gore. Hatchet throws out some awfully graphic kills, though it pales in comparison to 2010’s Piranha. While the latter presented a nearly constant string of intensely disgusting images, Hatchet comes with only a handful of violent kills. Yeah, they’re pretty gross, but they’re part and parcel of the genre, and they don’t linger onscreen long enough to nauseate ala Piranha.

Other than the graphic nature of the gore, the kills don’t have much to offer. They don’t seem to be especially creative or inventive, so I don’t know how much genre fans will get from them. I get the impression that horror buffs flock to movies such as the Friday franchise to see the unusual methods of murder, so I’m not sure this film’s mayhem will delight them.

Overall, however, I think Hatchet provides a pretty entertaining horror flick, largely because of its humor. As I mentioned, it’s most fun when it focuses on comedy; other than a bloody prologue, no one gets kills until about halfway through the flick, and it uses that time well.

Indeed, I think Hatchet would’ve worked better without the violent opening sequence. I understand why it’s there, as I suspect the target audience would’ve become itchy if they had to wait so long for blood.

However, without the prologue, the movie would provide more of a surprise. The opening lets us know we’re going to see a horror film, but it then immediately becomes about college kids on vacation. If it dropped the opening, it could catch a viewer off-guard and not telegraph what will come. Granted, I understand the movie’s sold as a bloodfest, so mayhem is to be expected. I still feel that a version without the prologue would make things more suspenseful and offer better twists.

Nonetheless, I still find decent entertainment from Hatchet. It pays heavy homage to its roots but doesn’t feel like a slave to them, mostly because it demonstrates a better sense of humor. The movie has fun with its genre and gives us a good kick.


The Disc Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B+/ Bonus B+

Hatchet appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. This was an inconsistent presentation, though I suspect most of its negative attributes stemmed from the source photography.

Most of the problems came during dark scenes, and since the movie took place almost entirely at night, that meant a lot of those shots. Shadows either tended to be too bright or too dense, as the lighting wasn’t consistent. Scenes could look unnaturally like daytime or they could be tough to discern. The movie needed a happy medium that it rarely found, so dark scenes were a frequent concern.

Otherwise, this was a pretty satisfying image. Sharpness usually looked solid. A few slightly soft shots occurred, but most of the movie offered nice delineation. I noticed no signs of shimmering or jagged edges, and edge haloes remained absent.

No print flaws cropped up either, and colors were positive. Given that so much of the movie took place in a dimly-lit bayou, we didn’t see a lot of bright hues; these were evident mostly during the early, quick Mardi Gras sequences. Still, what we got looked solid, and blacks were nicely deep. Really, only the problems with shadows created unattractive elements; otherwise, this was a nice picture.

I found more consistent material from the film’s Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack, which used the spectrum in an active way. Music pounded from all five channels, and effects occasionally followed suit. Though much of the movie focused on creepy atmosphere, the big action/scare scenes brought out more dynamic information. Those presented involving material from the side and surround channels and became full partners in the experience.

Audio quality also seemed good. Speech was consistently crisp and natural, and music showed good range and vivacity. Effects also demonstrated solid clarity and accuracy, and they used the low-end side of things in a strong manner; the track contributed quite a lot of deep bass. All of this seemed more than enough for a “B+”.

Plenty of extras flesh out this set. We get two commentaries, the first of which comes from director/producer/co-writer Adam Green, co-producer/cinematographer Will Barratt and actors Tamara Feldman, Joel David Moore and Deon Richmond. This running, screen-specific track starts with just Green and Barratt; Moore and Richmond come along a little later, and Feldman joins a bit after that. They discuss sets and locations, cast and performances, some character/story subjects, budgetary concerns, MPAA conflicts and general misery from the shoot.

Recorded for the original 2007 DVD, this commentary offers a fun chat. Green dominates, as he delves into his movie with a lot of useful notes. The others chime in less frequently, but they throw in their thoughts about the flick and the experience of making it. The piece moves at a good pace and turns into a solid discussion of the movie.

For the second track, we hear from director/co-producer/writer Adam Green and actor Kane Hodder. They also sit together for a running, screen-specific discussion of the film's origins and development, cast and performances, locations and effects, story issues and connections to the sequel, issues with financing and distribution, MPAA concerns, and connected stories.

Recorded summer 2010, this chat occasionally feels like an ad for Hatchet II, as the pair tell us a lot about connections to that film. That’s not a terrible negative, though, especially since Green makes sure he doesn’t repeat himself from the earlier commentary. We get very little redundant material, and I like this track’s emphasis on the difficult process of getting the movie financed and on screens. Though not as fun as the first commentary, this one gives us plenty of nice notes.

Five Featurettes run a total of one hour, 14 minutes and 35 seconds. These include “The Making of Hatchet” (39:18), “Meeting Victor Crowley” (9:24), “Guts & Gore” (10:59), “Anatomy of a Kill” (6:21) and “A Twisted Tale” (8:33). Across these, we hear from Green, Barratt, Hodder, Richmond, Feldman, Moore, producers Cory Neal and Sarah Elbert, Fangoria’s Ryan “Rotten” Turek, special effects makeup artist John Carl Buechler, production designer Bryan McBrien, Steadicam operator BJ McDonald, composer Andy Garfield, line producer Sarah J. Donohue, musician Dee Snider and actors Robert Englund, Parry Shen, Mercedes McNab, Joleigh Fioreavanti, Richard Riehle, Patrika Darbo, and Joel Murray.

We learn about inspirations and the origins of the piece, development and getting financing, casting and performances, sets and locations, various pressures/challenges during the shoot, music and editing, aspects of the kills and gore, makeup and stunts, and an unusual influence on Green.

Expect a fine look behind the scenes from these featurettes. Though meant to be viewed individually, the clips mesh together well and feel like one long piece. We get lots of great behind the scenes material and receive a nice overview here.

In addition to the film’s trailer, we get a gag reel. This lasts three minutes, 43 seconds and shows a little of the usual goofs/giggles but also includes a lot of improv lines. Those help make it more interesting than expected.

The disc opens with some promos. We get clips for Frozen, After.Life, The Crazies and Pandorum.

One of the better modern horror films I’ve seen, Hatchet works best when it keeps things light. It demonstrates a surprising sense of humor to balance the violence, and that helps make it entertaining. The Blu-ray offers inconsistent but usually good picture, solid audio and a strong collection of supplements. I like this horror throwback, and the Blu-ray presents it well.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main