A long time ago, way back when we first launched this site, we ran an interview with a fella named Adam Green (conducted by Horrorview pal, Eric Schmidt – aka; Don’t Feed the Dead), who was working on a film called Hatchet. At the time, Green only had a short-yet-effective trailer for the film, made, essentially, to get the money to go out and actually shoot the movie for real. It wasn’t long before Green and Hatchet started turning up all over the web, with some proclaiming the film to be the greatest American slasher ever made before a single frame of film was ever shot. The buzz helped Green and his crew secure the money to make the film, and a new horror legend was born in the twisted guise of Victor Crowley; the hatchet-faced bayou mutant who promised to bring back “old school American horror” in a big way. Adam Green promised a lot with Hatchet, but did he deliver? In a word, fuck yeah (well, that’s two).
Hatchet’s simple premise involves the aforementioned Crowley cutting, tearing, sawing, and ripping a group of disparate tourists on a “haunted” swamp tour into pieces. Everything and anything that gets them into the killer’s domain is simply a means to a bloody end, as it is clear from the film’s opening salvo – in which Robert Englund and “The Blair Witch Project’s” Joshua Leonard are reduced to little more than quivering puddles of goo – that Green’s main focus is on how many people he kills, when he kills them, and in what manner. That isn’t to say Hatchet is without a plot; it’s simply that the plot here is just an excuse to round up a bunch of cannon fodder for Kane Hodder’s Crowley to eviscerate. And that’s just fine with me, especially when the kills are as inventive, over-the-top, and laugh-‘til-you-piss-your-pants funny.
When people aren’t dying, Green’s smart and very funny script fills the void nicely, with a great ensemble cast (headlined by the wonderful Joel Moore and the beautiful Tamara Feldman) delivering the director’s hip and occasionally self-referential dialogue. Horror fans will no doubt tune in to see Englund, Hodder, and Tony Todd (who cameos as Reverend Zombie – a character Green promises will have a major role in Hatchet 2), but the film’s cast of upcoming talent, like “Better Luck Tomorrow’s” Parry Shen, and “Scream 3’s” Deon Richmond are the real draw here, as is the debut of an obviously talented young director who’s such an unabashed horror fanboy it’s virtually impossible for not to get behind and root for.
The DVD from Starz!/Anchor Bay offers up a bevy of bonus materials, including a very in-depth look at the making of the film, FX featurettes, an interesting little story about Green’s relationship with Dee Snider called “A Twisted Tale”, blooper reel, cast and crew commentary, and much more.
Hatchet is a sort of mash-up between the over-the-top slasher flicks of the ‘80’s (think Just Before Dawn or The Burning and you’re halfway there) and the current crop of “teen” comedies. Think of it as a sort of “Harold and Kumar go to Louisiana and Get Their Intestines Torn Out and Hung from a Tree” and you’ve got the general idea. While I don’t really consider the blend “Old School American Horror” as I don’t remember a lot of those 80’s films being this funny (at least intentionally), I do think that Green’s instilled his film with enough of that era’s blood and gusto to make a hell of a lot of horror fans smile in between scares.