Hatchet (2006) became an instant Dan favorite when I first watched it—a super gory horror comedy that I can watch again and again and laugh every time. It’s an effect I previously thought only the Golden Girls could have on me.
The excessive number of horror circle actors in the film might seem like a desperate attempt to gain attention and publicity for the film, but they’re all really just icing on the crude and campy cake. There’s Robert Englund and the dude from The Blair Witch Project as the father and son team who get offed first while alligator fishing. Tony Todd is “Reverend Zombie,” an owner of a voodoo shop. Victor Crowley, the deformed killer, as well as his father in the flashback scenes, are both played by Kane Hodder, who handled the duties as Jason Voorhees in a number of the Friday the 13th films.
The plot of this splatterfest is simple: partying kids go on a haunted New Orleans swamp tour and are soon being pursued by a nasty looking killer. Leading the boat tour is horror cutie Parry Shen (Shrieker, The Hazing). We have a black dude as comic relief, plus two bimbos—a blonde and brunette—who totally steal the show as “actresses” trying to make it big by showing off their big ones for a Girls Gone Wild type “director.” One of these funny girls happens to be Mercedes McNab, aka: Harmony from Buffy and Angel.
Our main girl is on the tour to find her father and brother, who went gator hunting and never came back….
You’re either going to love Hatchet or hate it. The kills are squirm-inducing and just as hilarious as the humor. The ending harkens back to the climax of the original Friday the 13th, yet there’s no explanatory epilogue. It ends so abruptly it feels like you were in the middle of a scene and someone forgot to start the next film reel.
The reason for that ending becomes so clear with Hatchet II (2010). I’m going to guess that director/writer Adam Green had some serious George Lucas foresight here and knew all along he was going to continue this epic story!
However, watch these films back to back and you’ll definitely notice some differences. Now, I love me some Danielle Harris, but what I love even more is continuity. Hatchet II begins right where we left off. Problem is, Danielle Harris didn’t portray Marybeth in the first film! ARGH! Why wasn’t Danielle in the first film? Who knows. Maybe she was busy filming Rob Zombie’s Halloween. Someone fire her agent. Or why wasn’t the chick who played Marybeth in the first film asked back for the second? Was it because they simply wanted Danielle for her name?
Anyway, Marybeth gets away, but hasn’t found her father and brother, so she wants to go back on the tour and find them. This time Tony Todd (aka: Reverend Zombie) joins the tour, along with a bunch of local men who want to kill Crowley once and for all.
Once again manning the boat is Parry Shen. Horror cub AJ Bowen joins the cast. And the funny guy this time around is this Sinbad looking dude who cracked me up doing a killer Tony Todd impersonation—right to Tony’s face! And Tony’s reaction is perfect—it looks like he’s about to go Candyman on Sinbad’s ass!
The first film delivered the comedy from start to finish. The sequel is heavily weighed down by a serious tone for the first forty minutes. Danielle Harris plays it straight and dramatic, her character being the focus and having no room for humor considering what she’s been through. Victor Crowley’s backstory is expanded upon in more flashbacks, and we learn he is out for revenge against the specific people who were responsible for his death (very Voorhees of Crowley, isn’t it?).
It’s not until Sinbad dude’s appearance that the film starts to lighten up, although we do get one funny moment at the beginning when Mercedes McNab and her brunette bimbo friend from the first film make a cameo. And speaking of, another small cameo (like 2 seconds long) comes from a chick named Sarah who was a contestant on VH1’s Scream Queens. Naturally, there are plenty of big boobs bouncing around (okay, maybe not naturally, but they’re still big). And the campy and grotesque kills are as bloody fun as in the first film.
This is all a blast, but again, the presence of Danielle Harris’s character is just so off-balance with the comic tone that she verges on annoying. However, she totally redeems herself in the very last moment of the film. She rox the hatchet! But then…no! Can it be! After no less than FOUR Halloween movies, are you really going to be ignorant enough as to drop the hatchet, Danielle???
And then comes Hatchet III (2013), picking up right where part 2 left off. Basically, it’s a Hatchet II remake with a group of gun-toting dudes heading into the swamp to kill Victor Crowley. Danielle Harris’s role is lessened and she seems to just be fulfilling an obligation to appear in the film. Caroline Williams, the screamer from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre II, accompanies her as a reporter, and Zach Galligan of Fright Night, looking exactly like David Naughton these days, plays the sheriff.
A whole new heard of guys gets sliced and diced with magnificent gore, but that’s all Hatchet III really has going for it. There are no scares and the humor is okay, but nothing too memorable. And seriously, a majority of the film is packs of dudes standing around shooting the hell out of Victor Crowley and getting mass murdered—yet still shooting and shooting and shooting even though it’s obvious as hell that guns don’t work.
There are a few bright moments. Parry Shen is back!!! This time, he plays an unrelated character, but one of the in-jokes points out that he looks very familiar. Also, Sid Haig has a short cameo and totally steals the show. And finally, if you pay close attention and really remember the first film, there’s a moment of direct connection to it. But in the end, it would be best if this is the final chapter in a trilogy….