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DARK SKY FILMS

MOVIE INFO

Director:
BJ McDonnell
Cast:
Danielle Harris, Kane Hodder, Zach Galligan, Caroline Williams, Parry Shen, Robert Diago DoQui, Derek Mears
Writing Credits:
Adam Green

Synopsis:
Beloved horror icons re-unite in Hatchet III, the epic third installment of Adam Green's modern slasher franchise, as Marybeth (Danielle Harris) uncovers the true secret to stopping the voodoo curse that has left the ghost of deformed maniac Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder) haunting and stalking the New Orleans bayou for decades. An entire police department, paramedic response team, and heavily armed S.W.A.T. unit face off with the iconic slasher in this action packed and explosive film full of stunts and jaw dropping gore effects that raise both the bar and the body count of the previous two films put together. Also starring genre favorites Zach Galligan, Caroline Williams, and Derek Mears.

MPAA:
Rated NR

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 81 min.
Price: $34.98
Release Date: 8/13/2013

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Writer/Producer Adam Green, Director BJ McDonnell, Cinematographer Will Barratt and Makeup Effects Artist Robert Pendergraft
• Audio Commentary with Writer/Producer Adam Green, Director BJ McDonnell and Actors Parry Shen and Kane Hodder
• “Hatchet III: Behind the Screams” Documentary
• “Raising Kane” Featurette
• “Swamp Fun” Featurette
• Trailers and Previews


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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 III [Blu-Ray] (2013)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 12, 2013)

Seven years after the start of the franchise, we get a continuation of the Victor Crowley saga via 2013’s Hatchet III. Set immediately after the end of the second chapter, Hatchet III reintroduces us to Marybeth Dunston (Danielle Harris), the young lady who fought off supernatural serial killer Crowley (Kane Hodder) in the last installation. Since she literally cut him in half, it looks like the end of Victor, right?

Of course not – horror movies don’t work that way! Marybeth turns herself into police and Sheriff Fowler (Zach Galligan) embarks on an investigation, though he dismisses Crowley as an “urban legend”. Fowler gets more complications when Crowley-centric local journalist Amanda Perlman (Caroline Williams) – also the ex-Mrs. Fowler - turns up to check out the case and chat up Marybeth.

As authorities clean up the crime scene, they discover that maybe Victor does exist – and maybe he’s not quite as dead as he seemed. In a visit with the coroner (Sean Whalen), Victor springs back to form and goes on yet another murderous rampage. Marybeth and all the rest do their best to stop him.

While I can’t claim Hatchet or its first sequel reinvented the horror wheel, they did offer fun expansions of the slasher genre. It’s hard to find any modern horror flicks that offer even minor entertainment, so the invention of a new character/franchise with some cleverness and spark stands as a fairly notable achievement.

While series founder Adam Green remains actively involved as writer and producer, III finds him away from the director’s chair for the first time. BJ McDonnell makes his directorial debut here; though he boasts an exceedingly long list of credits, nearly all come from his work as a camera operator or a grip.

Even without Green as director, III feels like part of the same franchise, as it mixes graphic violence and perverse comedy. Granted, neither II nor III shot for laughs in the same way the first flick pursued them, which makes some sense. The original Hatchet attempted a curveball, as it followed a “guys on spring break” narrative before it changed course. The next chapters couldn’t deceive audiences the same way - that’d be like Psycho sequels that tried to pretend we don’t know anything about Norman Bates – so while I miss the tone of the original, I understand why we get the changes.

I also appreciate the fact that II and III don’t simply remake the first film. In this case, we get a variation on the Aliens theme, as much of the movie follows heavily armed authorities who battle Victor. That’s a twist from the smaller-scale assaults of the first two flicks, and it gives us a neat little change of pace.

Actually, III traces two simultaneous threads; while the active fight against Victor wages, Amanda takes Marybeth and Deputy Winslow (Robert Diago DoQui) on a supernatural quest with the same goal. While this gives the movie an interesting twist, it does lead to some narrative imbalance. Marybeth should be the lead, but the movie loses track of her for extended periods; the tale would work better if it melded the two sides more neatly.

Though this does come with at least one positive result: we see less of Harris and her inability to act. Harris has become something of a modern “scream queen” but I can’t quite figure out why she’s earned such a strong reputation in the horror genre, as I fail to see her appeal as a performer. She’s pretty but she just can’t act at all, and her poor work here makes Marybeth less compelling as a presence.

Despite the weaknesses of the lead actor and some narrative inconsistencies, III still manages to offer an entertaining expansion of the series. Like its predecessors, it provides some winning comedy, especially via some characters who show an amusing willingness to go against horror conventions. We also get some fun inside jokes that’ll reward fans of the first two flicks.

III continues the extremely graphic gore of its predecessors, which is fine, I guess. I admit I’m not a big fan of such nastiness, but I can’t gripe about its presence here; hey, I saw the first two flicks, so shame on me if it bothers me.

And it doesn’t actually “bother me” – it’s just not my cup of tea. I suspect fans of the genre will enjoy the over the top bloodshed of III, though I think its effects don’t quite live up to what we saw in the prior films. Most look pretty good, but a few seem more bargain basement than I’d like.

Even with its ups and downs, I think Hatchet III presents a fairly entertaining conclusion (?) to the trilogy. It’s not as good as the first film – and it lacks the appealing female nudity of Hatchet II - but it’s still a fun, clever horror tale.


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

Hatchet III appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This was a decent but erratic image.

Though sharpness looked generally positive, it lacked consistency. While some shots displayed strong delineation, others tended to be a little on the soft side. Overall definition was fine, but it just wasn’t as good as I’d anticipate. I saw no signs of jaggies or shimmering, and edge haloes remained absent. No print flaws could be found either.

Colors tended toward a greenish tint. That gave the movie a somewhat ugly feel that I didn’t think was totally intentional, as the hues seemed murkier than I’d expect. The colors weren’t terrible, but they could be unappealing. Blacks were fine, as they seemed reasonably dense, and shadows showed reasonable clarity; the greenness gave them a bland feel but they were still fairly visible. This wasn’t a bad presentation, but it wasn’t better than a “B-“.

I felt a bit more pleased with the movie’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, though it didn’t excel either. While the soundscape offered reasonable breadth, the elements didn’t combine in an especially immersive manner. Different components cropped up around the room in logical spots but movement and integration weren’t as strong as I’d like. Still, these pieces gave the soundfield reasonable involvement and kick.

Audio quality seemed fine. Speech was fairly distinctive and lacked notable flaws like crackling, while music showed pretty good range and clarity. Effects came across as dynamic and full, with powerful low-end when necessary. I liked this track well enough for a “B”.

When we shift to the set’s extras, we find two separate audio commentaries. The first comes from writer/producer Adam Green, director BJ McDonnell, cinematographer Will Barratt and makeup effects artist Robert Pendergraft, all of whom sit together for a running, screen-specific piece. They discuss why Green didn’t direct the film, sets and locations, cinematography and editing, stunts and action, effects and makeup, and a few other areas.

Billed as a “technical commentary”, those areas dominate; indeed, whenever the subject drifts elsewhere, the participants quickly bat it back on target. This might’ve made the track seem dry, but that never becomes the case, as the guys manage to give us a fun look at the production. We get a nice mix of facts and stories in this enjoyable overview.

For the second commentary, we find another running, screen-specific chat with Green, McDonnell and actors Kane Hodder and Parry Shen. They cover cast and performances, story and characters, and general notes about the shoot.

Though I normally prefer commentaries that focus on the “creative side” over the technical ones, that situation reverses itself for Hatchet III. Perhaps this occurs because McDonnell and Green recorded the other track first, but it gives us a brisker, more informative chat. We do still find a reasonable amount of material here, and the actors’ perspectives adds value, so this piece merits your attention; I just don’t like it as much as its sibling.

Under Hatchet III: Behind the Scenes, we locate a nine-minute, six-second featurette that takes us to the set. We hear a few soundbites but mostly we just see candid footage from the production. After two commentaries, I’m fine with the lack of interviews, and this becomes a fun look at the shoot.

For more with the actor, we go to the four-minute, 57-second Raising Kane. This follows him on the set, though we mostly see him go through the makeup process. This feels like a companion to “Behind the Scenes” and it works reasonably well.

Finally, Swamp Fun fills eight minutes, 53 seconds with more footage from location. As implied by the title, we see cast and crew in a swamp and watch them battle mosquitoes and other natural obstacles. This becomes another piece in the same vein as “Behind the Scenes”, and it comes with some enjoyable elements, especially when Green pesters actor Zach Galligan about Gremlins.

The disc opens with ads for Stitches, Manborg, Sleep Tight and Frankenstein’s Army. We also find both the teaser and theatrical trailers for Hatchet III.

After two pretty enjoyable horror flicks, we get a completed hat trick via Hatchet III. While I can’t claim to love any of the films, I think they all work well, and III delivers another bloody good time. The Blu-ray delivers fairly positive picture and audio along with some interesting audio commentaries. If you liked the first two Hatchet movies, III merits your attention.

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