Richard Riehle………Mr. Permatteo
Patrika Darbo………Mrs. Permatteo
Kane Hodder………Victor Crowley/Mr. Crowley
DVD Release Date: December 18, 2007 Rating: Unrated Running Time: 84 Minutes
The horror genre has truly gone down the proverbial toilet in the past decade with only a few films even worth mentioning. All creativity and imaginativeness has just gone out of the minds of the writers and directors spawning remake after remake. As if that isn’t bad enough; the remakes make enough cash to mean another film is on the way and it’s simply a remake of the original sequel. Remakes usually suck. Sequels usually suck. Add that together and it is a lot of suck. Hell, there hasn’t even been a true horror icon since Ghostface from Scream. Throw him in the mix and the icon pool is still very low with the eighties spawning almost all of the masters. Until now.
A group of friends have headed down to New Orleans for Mardi Gras and are looking to get in all the lewd activity they possibly can. That is except for Ben who just can’t get over the recent break-up with longtime girlfriend Christine. Every girl he sees reminds him of her and he can’t take it anymore so he decides to go off alone and find something else to do. His close friend Marcus can’t let his boy go off alone though and tags along.
Ben heard something about a “haunted swamp tour” from some friends and thinks it would be a good thing to get his mind on other things then his break-up. Things seem a tad sketchy with the whole situation, but Marcus and Ben end up on the tour anyway. They end up with a rather ragtag bunch too consisting of a nudie girls’ DVD “director,” two girls looking to make it big in his tapes, an older couple just looking for excitement, and a rather quiet girl who just keeps to herself. The tour guide isn’t too much of a winner either as his fake southern accent is almost too noticeable.
Upon arriving at the “haunted” swamp; the group doesn’t heed the warnings to stay out and simply surge on. Along the way their guide teaches them the story of Victor Crowley. Victor was born hideously deformed and was kept out of sight in the swamp where he lived with his father. One night some cruel kids ended up starting a fire at the Crowley cabin and trapping young Victor inside. Mr. Crowley grabbed a hatchet to make his way inside but a tragic accident caused him to hit Victor in the face killing him instantly.
Ten years went by and Mr. Crowley became a hermit in his home until he died of a broken heart. Victor is said to still haunt the swamp and watch over it as if it is his own. He still has the hatchet mark across his face and every now and then you can hear him calling for his daddy. It’s a tale that not many in the group believe in, but they soon realize has a lot more truth to it then what just the tour guide has told them. They also learn a lot about each other and come to the conclusion that trusting each other may help them survive the night.
Hatchet simply blew me away and took me back in time at least twenty-five years. Mind you I’m only twenty-eight years old, but I’ve been watching horror films since I was five years old and have seen some that go back as far as sixty years or more. It took the qualities that made eighties slashers so iconic and added a modern touch to them in order to produce a great horror-comedy flick. Tons of blood to make any gore-hound happy and some well-timed (and very funny) jokes thrown in to counterbalance everything make for a wonderful horror film.
In a short eighty-four minutes, Hatchet does everything that most horror films lasting as long as two hours in length never do, and it does them right. Along with what I’ve already listed; it gives some token nudity, makes us care about the characters, and produces a new villain that will certainly be around for a long time. This unrated cut doesn’t have much changed to it, but if you saw the theatrical version then you’ll notice the moments that are different. Victor Crowley is an excellent new face of horror that is given a deep backstory letting us know exactly how he came to be. He’s scary. He’s mean. He’s Leatherface meets Michael Myers and let loose at Camp Crystal Lake.
The film is shown in 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen format and looks almost flawless. All daytime shots in the city are shown with bright colors and no problems with the transfer at all. The second half of the film is primarily at night and never has the problem of being too dark or hiding everything in shadow.
The film is heard in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and is really good. Being originally from New Orleans; I know that you can’t walk outside without hearing some kind of noises at all times. Go out of the city a little bit and closer to the marshes and you’re going to hear some of the scariest sounds ever from all around you. Hatchet does a great job of recreating that for a really spooky feel.
The Making OF Hatchet – Time for the crew including director Adam Green to sit down and explain how they went from having no money whatsoever to making Hatchet and getting it released. The feature runs close to forty minutes and goes so deep in not just showing clips from the film with backstage stuff, but the development of it from scratch. One of the coolest parts is right at the start when Green, director of photography Will Barratt, and producer Sarah Elbert took a trip to New Orleans. They took a handheld camera on an alligator swamp tour and used that footage combined with Sarah’s friend’s four year old child’s voice to create the teaser trailer. By power of the internet; the film got enough popularity to be created.
It then goes into the casting of Kane Hodder and everyone else that just made the film really start rolling. A history of Victor Crowley is added in to some great sets and make-up and the next great American horror film.
Meeting Victor Crowley – This is an absolutely awesome feature as the entire cast and Green give their thoughts on our villain, Victor Crowley. Adam Green made it a point with Kane Hodder (Victor) to not let anyone in the cast see the character of Victor until he was to be in a scene with them on screen. This allowed for all of their frightened reactions to be as real as possible. Lots of pranks and scares were also pulled by Hodder and members of the crew. But it is simply amazing how much fear Hodder put into the other cast members. Some of the female leads were actually on the ground crying after scenes. Now that’s good horror.
Guts & Gore – Here is another great feature showcasing the special FX involved in the film for all the gore, blood, guts, and disgusting. The cast and crew talk about some of the extremely unique kills and many of them even have their own favorites. This feature runs right at eleven minutes and is another great one to enjoy.
Anatomy Of A Kill – One of the best kills in the entire film is completed dissected here in this six minute feature. What is being called the “Pop Top Kill” which is when Mrs. Permatteo (Patrika Darbo) gets her head ripped open through her mouth is taken apart from birth to execution. Green wanted to go with no CGI effects whatsoever and also to not cut away and come back to see the woman already ripped apart. It is a great look at how they flawlessly accomplished this feat.
A Twisted Tale – I don’t know if it gets much cooler then this eight and a half minute feature, but it goes to show you that even eighties hair bands can be influential. Green talks about his career has been influenced by and come about all because of Dee Snider (and the Twisted Sister tape his grandmother bought him). Snider and Green share excerpts of their strange journey together and how they’ve both had a positive reflection on the other one’s life.
Gag Reel – This is a pretty decent band of bloopers that runs right under four minutes. The cast forgets their lines, improvs a lot, and laughs constantly at one another. There’s even a little bit of trouble getting the proper amount of puke to come up.
Audio Commentary – Writer/director Adam Green is joined by director of photography Will Barratt, and members of the cast Tamara Feldman, Joel David Moore, and Deon Richmond. Green starts out by saying how everything that could have gone wrong with Hatchet has gone wrong including getting ready for the commentary. Right before they sat down to start, two transformers blew on the lot cutting all power. Barratt ran wires and cables from his car battery to the room they were in order to ghetto-rig the TV, watch the film, and record. Funny.
Green goes off on tons of stories throughout the film that are incredibly funny and just a lot of fun to listen to. The group is having some drinks and just enjoying the hell out of themselves here. Hearing the cut “octopus scene” from Goonies actually brought up makes this the best commentary ever. Make sure you listen to this because it is well worth it.
Trailers – Spiral, Behind The Mask: The Rise Of Leslie Vernon, Karas: The Revelation, and Anchor Bay Horror Comes Home Entertainment
The Inside Pulse
I know it’s a horror film and it is not ever going to win a single category on any awards’ show ever, but that doesn’t matter. This is truly one of the best horror films of 2007, one of the most enjoyable films of the year, and quite possibly the best horror film I’ve seen since the first Scream. Forget all the cheap horror crap that is released to DVD on almost a daily basis and grab the one film you’ve truly been waiting for. Hatchet delivers in comedy, thrills, and just straight-out horror like no film has been able to do in so very long. It mixes the genres of eighties’ slashers and modern-day jump scares together as if they’ve always been one. Throw on top of it the most comprehensive amount of special features that I’ve ever seen for a single-disc DVD and you’ve got yourself almost five hours of solid enjoyment and fear. For those who think New Orleans is all fun, drinking, and Mardi Gras? Watch the trailer and take the little girl’s advice…stay out of the swamp.