Friday, October 1, 2010

My (Kinda Long) HATCHET 2 Review!

In 1992, after I first watched Clive Barker's CANDYMAN, I walked away thinking "hmmm, you know what would be randomly awesome? If this "Candyman" guy was in a movie where he would fight the DIRECTOR of FRIGHT NIGHT. Lucky for me, HATCHET 2 director Adam Green (Frozen, Hatchet 1) had that same thought, and made both of our wishes come true in his follow-up to one of my favorite 80's inspired slasher films, HATCHET. Ok, maybe neither of us had that exact thought. And in actuality, to the casual moviegoer, this small Candyman-versus-Tom-Holland aspect of Hatchet 2 would be nothing to even bat an eyelid at. But in addition to just genuinely making a GOOD and FUN horror movie, director Adam Green made this movie FOR US! For the horror fans. For the geeks. And this Candyman/Tom Holland mashup is just ONE example of genuine awesome nods to us fans throughout Hatchet 2. Adam is creating a universe with his films. Sprinkling in small references to his other movies and short films, along with acknowledging other mainstream and indie horror flicks with clever dialogue (Leslie Vernon reference, anyone?), and cameos from other genre directors (LLOYD KAUFMAN! Mike Mendez, Joe Lynch!), Mr. Green's onscreen universe is becoming iconic. The best artists throughout history dabble in different genres and styles and mediums, learning so much along the way in their early projects, and are able to use those experiences to keep evolving and establishing a unique style. I have been more than excited watching Adam Green do just that. And with Hatchet 2, his unique style and love for the genre is as apparent as a softball-sized goiter on a hamster. And I can appreciate it tenfold.

Now, I am a fan of the first Hatchet. I have seen it a handful of times and I have a blast every time I watch it. I've held on to a few small complaints about Hatchet 1, though, mainly about some of the characters who I felt were portrayed a little TOO over the top for an homage, with some dialog that felt like humor and characterizations were being forced into the script where they weren't necessarily needed. Hatchet 2 is proof that Adam (who also WROTE and directed both Hatchet 1 and Hatchet 2) is not afraid to LEARN throughout his processes. Hatchet 2 is an improvement over Hatchet 1 in almost every aspect of it. The ONLY thing that Hatchet 2 suffers from is the lack of that whole build up to the "What-the-fuck-is-killing-everyone??" reveal, which is always fun discovering a new monster in the middle of a new movie. But aside from literally STARTING the movie on the same frame as the last one left off, with our monster, Victor Crowley, howling at the moon, taking away any suspense from any moviegoers unfamiliar with the first Hatchet, Hatchet 2 is, in short, FUCKING AMAZING.
It's rare that a sequel is better than the original, but Victor Crowley can proudly stand alongside Robert DeNiro's Vito Corleone, the T-1000, and the demons from [REC]2 in the "Superior Sequels Sorority" house. A welcome addition to the family in my opinion.

Now, maybe I should actually talk about the movie itself? Alright, I will a little:) As mentioned earlier, Hatchet 2 picks up literally on the same frame as the last one ended, which, in sequels, I LOVE. Some of the most fun and successful sequels have done just that: Friday the 13th Part 4, Back To The Future 2, Army Of Darkness, & [REC]2 to name a few. Why is this such a good thing, you ask? Well, because it poses a challenge for the filmmaker from right off the bat. How can you continue to tell the same story while simultaneously creating a fresh new spin on the subject matter? It's a challenge that doesn't always work (see Hostel 2) and what sometimes ends up is basically the same movie or something that seems just rehashed, but when it WORKS, it proves so much about the creativity of the filmmakers involved. In Hatchet 2's case, it works.
So as we jump right into the opening of Hatchet 2, we see that Marybeth, who we assumed dies at the last frame of Hatchet 1, barley escapes the clutches of the deformed maniac in the middle of the swamp and….wait a minute….that's NOT Marybeth!! That's…..HOLY SHIT THAT'S DANIELLE HARRIS! Ok, though I thought she was one of the better performers in part 1, who gives 2 shits that Tamara Feldman was replaced by DANIELLE HARRIS?! Not me! I've had the hardest crush on Danielle Harris since I watched her reluctantly grab a knife and don a clown suit in Halloween 4 & 5, watched her get irresponsibly babysat by Christina Applegate, and then disobey her father and talk to a puppet in The Last Boy Scout, and seeing her acting resurgence in the horror genre as of late (Rob Zombie's HALLOWEEN 1 &2, Fear Clinic) makes me a proud proud crush-haver. So, now that we established that rules can change and people can morph into other people in the middle of a swamp without any matter-altering device, let's accept it and have some fucking FUN!

*As you can see, through an odd turn of photoshopped events, I am happy to announce that Danielle and I are now totally hanging out all of the time…in jpg form. Don't we look great at the LA premiere??….uummm, yah:(

So I don't want to give anything away as to how Adam catapulted over his challenge to spin some originality into the sequel, but basically, this time around, we follow Marybeth back into town, alone, battered, damaged, and we join her as she decides overnight that she has had enough of Crowley's shit and now she wants violent revenge for the murder of her family. All of the aspects of a rape-revenge movie, minus the whole "forcing the audience to sit through an uncomfortably long rape scene" thing? Sounds good to me! This time around, as we follow Marybeth's attempt at rounding up anyone and everyone in the French Quarter, we learn more about Victor's past, more about what kind of "monster" he his, more about Reverend Zombie (played by Tony Todd who is AWESOME and has a way bigger and better role in part 2), more about how Marybeth is connected to the legend, and more about how the fuck Victor Crowley has so much knowledge about power tools, anatomy, stealth, and creativity!
So, is Hatchet 2 still all about assembling a diverse group of people in a remote setting so that we can watch them all die in unique ways? Umm…DUH. Of course! But it's the JOURNEY that is so much fun. And Adam has evolved his writing style as well. The characters, though still fun stereotypes and homages, were portrayed with a lot more subtlety in Hatchet 2, thus, the comedic aspects of them almost always worked and never felt over the top. Standout performances from Colton Dunn, Tom Holland (who knew the guy who made CHILD'S PLAY could act as a decent human??), AJ Bowen and Tony Todd's "magical" performance added so much quirkiness to Danielle's ensemble group of vigilantes, it was just as much fun watching them bitch at each other as it was watching Victor Crowley MURDER THEM IN THE MOST VIOLENT WAYS EVER, but more on that later. You know what, fuck it, more on that NOW. Was Hatchet 2 violent? Yes. Was Hatchet 2 GORY? Yes, part 2. Was Hatchet 2 deserving of the prestigious UNRATED rating? Fuck…yes. Creature effects wizard Robert Pendergraft did an uncannily eerie job on Crowley's deformed body this time around. Victor Crowley looked, in one word, disgusting. From head to toe. Plain and simple. One of the most disgusting practical monsters in movie history is Belial from BASKET CASE. And Victor Crowley is, in a way, what I always imagined Belial to be like if he grew legs, put on overalls, and moved from NY into the bayou! In fact, I can stomach almost anything, but if this WERE a rape-revenge movie, i don't know if I could have sat through Victor Crowley raping anything, even Snooki. Bravo!

Belial Crowley

And once again, without ruining the surprises, there WERE kills. And the kills….were RIDICULOUS. In the best way possible! Every slasher film prides themselves on the originality of the kills. And Adam Green & Victor Crowley's (FIERCELY played by legendary monster KANE HODDER) dedication to deliver creative kills is more dedicated than Tom Hanks was to deliver that package in Castaway. And though most of the kills are hilariously awesome and bloody, (not a spoiler) Danielle Harris is involved in one of the most fun violent blood-ballet sequences that i've seen in a while.
In short, is Hatchet 2 for everyone? Perhaps not EVERYONE. But is it for US? YES! 100%. Adam and his entire crew have proven that they have the ability to make a great movie, and, in addition, Adam deserves so much credit for not stopping there, but instead making sure that on top of making a great movie for a general audience, he makes a DOUBLY-great movie for HORROR fans, by sprinkling in so many geek nods and fun that only WE would appreciate. A secret "Where's Waldo" adaptation for horror nerds. The risks of making original horror films in a bad economy and amongst an industry full of "safe" remakes, sequels, and average teen fright flicks ripped off from every other movie that made 30 million dollars proves that Adam Green and his entire team have GUTS. Visceral, bloody, unapologetic GUTS. I love this movie, and I love the risks that Adam and Dark Sky Films have taken with releasing this movie UNRATED in only 80 theaters across the country. And BECAUSE of that, he is risking taking the fall for ALL of us if this movie doesn't succeed. So we, as fans, owe it to HIM and to OURSELVES to help this movie succeed as much as possible to open the floodgates of studios being more receptive to original films.

HATCHET 2 UNRATED opens today in most AMC theaters across the country and if you can, please seek out one of those theaters and convince your friends to join you for the fun. And trust me, it IS fun.


Please, from one fan to another, help support this film to make way for more original & independent horror.

In other news, I slept siting up in my pants again. I gotta do something about this lifestyle…..