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DARK SKY FILMS

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Adam Green
Cast:
Danielle Harris, Kane Hodder, John Carl Buechler, Tony Todd, Parry Shen, Tom Holland, R.A. Mihailoff, AJ Bowen
Writing Credits:
Adam Green

Tagline:
Hold on to all of your pieces.

Synopsis:
Marybeth escapes the clutches of the deformed, swamp-dwelling iconic killer Victor Crowley. After learning the truth about her family's connection to the hatchet-wielding madman, Marybeth returns to the Louisiana swamps along with an army of hunters to recover the bodies of her family and exact bloody revenge against the bayou butcher.

Box Office:
Budget
$3 million.
Opening Weekend
$52.604 thousand on 68 screens.
Domestic Gross
$62.000 thousand.

MPAA:
Rated NR

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English PCM 2.0
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 84 min.
Price: $34.98
Release Date: 2/1/2010

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Director/Writer Adam Green and Actors Tony Todd and Kane Hodder
• Audio Commentary with Director/Writer Adam Green, Cinematographer Will Barratt and Makeup Effects Supervisor Robert Pendergraft
• “Hatchet II: Behind the Screams” Documentary
• “Hatchet II First Look” Featurette
• “Meet the FX Team” Featurette
• Trailers, TV Spot and Radio Spot


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 II [Blu-Ray] (2010)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 1, 2011)

Since 2006’s Hatchet provided a pleasant horror surprise, I figured I’d see if lightning could strike twice with its 2010 sequel. Like many flicks of this sort, Hatchet II begins at the very end of the first flick. Marybeth Dunston (Danielle Harris) narrowly escapes slaughter at the hands of deformed swamp monster Victory Crowley (Kane Hodder).

Local Jack Cracker (John Carl Buechler) initially helps her, but when he finds out she’s the daughter of fisherman Sampson Dunston, he demands that she leave immediately. She doesn’t get what Cracker holds against her pop, so she heads to Reverend Zombie (Tony Todd) for more info and he connects the dots.

Since Victor killed Sampson, Marybeth becomes intent on revenge, so she plans to head back to the swamp and destroy Victor. Reverend Zombie claims Victor can’t be killed, but she certainly wants to try to eradicate him nonetheless. This leads to a mission to get rid of the evil Victor once and for all.

While it lacks the same sense of goofy horror fun that made the first movie enjoyable, Hatchet II does come with positives of its own. For one, I admire the fact that it doesn’t simply rehash its predecessor. Too many sequels act as de facto remakes of the original movies, but that’s definitely not the case here. Though we do see some similarities, Hatchet II prefers the Aliens path; instead of another collection of innocent victims, it sends experienced hunters to go after their supernatural prey. Of course, they still get chopped up the same as those ordinary folks, but I like the twist.

Hatchet II also works harder to create a mythology – though maybe a little too hard at times. Both movies follow a similar sense of pacing in that the real killing doesn’t start until more than halfway through the flick. The difference is that the original opted for a general comedic sensibility as it led its victims to the slaughter, while the sequel prefers a more dramatic tone. It works overtime to develop the Crowley backstory.

Which it then pretty much ignores, which is a bit of a problem. After the intriguing set-up, the second half of the flick essentially plays about the same as what we saw in the original. Even though the hunters should have some good skills and they know what to expect, they get knocked off just the same as their less aware/accomplished predecessors.

That feels like a missed opportunity. Essentially, the movie simply throws out the same “monster appears out of nowhere and graphically slaughters” technique seen in the first movie and in most other genre efforts. That’s really the best the filmmakers could do? Why set up more powerful foes for Crowley if they’re not going to put up much of a fight?

Despite these missteps, I think Hatchet II still stands as a reasonably good follow-up to the first movie. Fans of graphic horror kills should find what they want, and the movie’s action climax proves to be pretty effective; that part of the flick almost lives up to the hopes the set-up generated. I don’t like this one as much as its predecessor, but it works well enough to succeed.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus B+

Hatchet II appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though not stellar, the image looked good.

Sharpness was a positive element. Due to iffy depth of field, a few shots seemed a bit out of focus, but that stemmed from the original photography. Outside of a few slightly soft wide elements, the movie demonstrated nice clarity and definition. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and edge enhancement failed to appear throughout the movie. Source flaws weren’t a factor.

Colors weren’t much of a concern in this fairly monochromatic affair. Given the nature of the story, I didn’t expect dynamic hues, and the film tended toward a subdued brownish look much of the time. What colors we found seemed fine, as they showed adequate vivacity. Blacks could appear a bit flat, but they usually boasted positive depth, and shadows were mostly fine. Though a few low-light shots came across as somewhat dense, these weren’t a substantial concern. Overall, this was an appealing visual presentation.

I also felt pleased with the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack. Like many horror movies, it mostly went with creepy atmosphere. A few action/scare sequences brought the track to life in a more active manner, but these were infrequent. Instead, the mix usually focused on general environment, and that side of things worked well. The audio used the speakers in a natural manner that created a good soundscape.

Music also featured nice stereo imaging, and the surrounds contributed to the ambience. The back channels didn’t have a lot to do, but that added to the film’s aura. The whole package connected together in a reasonably involving manner.

Audio quality was positive. Music showed nice range and clarity, while effects offered good accuracy and punch. The smattering of loud scenes showed solid definition, and they lacked distortion. Speech was also concise and natural. Nothing here dazzled, but it achieved its modest goals.

How did the picture and sound of this Blu-Ray compare with those of the DVD version? Both movies featured similar audio. The DTS-HD mix boasted a slightly stronger impact, but it wasn’t a big change.

The visuals showed the more substantial improvements. This was primarily due to greatly increased definition; the Blu-ray offered a much more detailed image. I also thought blacks were deeper, shadows were clearer, and the digital artifacts from the DVD went missing. The Blu-ray was definitely the better image, and by a wide margin.

The Blu-ray includes the same extras as the DVD plus a couple of exclusives. Both provide two separate audio commentaries, the first of which comes from writer/director Adam Green, cinematographer Will Barratt, and makeup effects supervisor Robert Pendergraft. They sit together for their running, screen-specific discussion of story/character topics, sets and locations, cinematography, various effects, cast and performances, and some other subjects.

A good audio commentary requires a chatty participant, and Green delivers that in spades. Barratt and Pendergraft throw in useful notes as well, but Green is the one who makes this an above average piece. He digs into topics with gusto and helps deliver an engaging, informative chat.

For the second commentary, we hear from writer/director Adam Green and actors Kane Hodder and Tony Todd. All three also sit together for this running, screen-specific look at a variety of movie-related topics, but two dominate: cast/performances and issues connected to the movie’s rating and release.

To his credit, Green consciously avoids repetition of material from the first commentary, so that means lots of fresh information here. He and the actors delve into the various topics in a compelling manner, though as usual, Green dominates; Todd and Hodder offer some nice reflections, but they’re not a major aspect of the track. Given how passionate and interesting Green tends to be, I don’t mind that; he helps turn this into another useful chat.

A documentary called Behind the Screams runs 33 minutes, 38 seconds and features notes from Green, Barratt, Hodder, Todd, producer Sarah Elbert, producer/2nd unit director Jason Miller, and actors Parry Shen, AJ Bowen, RA Mihailoff, Tom Holland, Danielle Harris, and David Foy. “Screams” looks at coming back for the sequel, the movie’s body count and story areas, cast/performances, music and editing, sets and effects, and a few other topics.

The Hatchet Blu-ray included a terrific documentary, but “Screams” doesn’t live up to that one; it’s a bit scattershot and doesn’t offer a lot of depth. Still, it throws out some good footage from the set and storyboards. The interview notes are unremarkable, but we still get a decent look at the flick.

Two Blu-ray exclusive featurettes appear next. Hatchet II: EPK runs eight minutes, 14 seconds and offers info from Green, Elbert, Foy, Hodder, Mihailoff, Harris, and Todd. We get quick notes about story, characters, cast, performances and stunts. As far as EPKs go, this one’s actually pretty good, but we don’t really learn anything here that we don’t get elsewhere.

The Killing Machine goes for six minutes, 14 seconds and features Pendergraft, special effects Duke Cullen, Jenn Rose and Anthony Bates. They deliver info about the various effects used in the film. They deliver reasonably good details as they let us know how they created the flick’s gore.

The disc opens with ads for Bitter Feast, House of the Devil, Wake Wood and The Last Lovecraft. We also find two trailers for Hatchet II along with a TV spot and a radio ad.

Though not as loose and fun as its predecessor, Hatchet II delivers a pretty good horror flick. It delivers the requisite gore and action to make it reasonably entertaining. The Blu-ray offers positive picture audio along with some useful supplements. This is an entertaining slasher flick, and the Blu-ray becomes the best way to see it.

To rate this film please visit the Unrated Director's Cut review of HATCHET II

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