Welcome, my spooky darlings, to another edition of Late to the Party! While your friendly neighborhood iHorror authors are well-versed in the realm of all things horror, we do have to admit that – from time to time – a classic film will slip through the cracks. For this week’s confession, I had never before seen Adam Green’s classic swampy slasher, Hatchet.
Now, I had admitted this previously when covering the surprise fourth film in the franchise, Victor Crowley, at Toronto After Dark (read my review here). Conveniently, my lack of familiarity was not a problem as the newest film fills in enough of the backstory. But! I enjoyed it so much that I wanted to go back to the very beginning (a very good place to start).
Adam Green’s Hatchet is a love letter to 80s slasher horror. The ensemble cast features some of the genre’s A-list stars, Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street), Tony Todd (Candyman), and Kane Hodder (Friday the 13th parts VII through X) as the hatchet-wielding butcher himself.
The plot is pretty simple – a group of tourists in New Orleans take a nighttime swamp tour, unaware that they are about to walk right into the lair of a supernaturally cursed and hideously deformed man with a penchant for vengeance (and a mighty thirst for carnage). As the shocked sightseers try to work together for survival, they are picked off one by one.
We follow Ben (Joel David Moore, Avatar) who – after a recent breakup – convinces his best friend Marcus (Deon Richmond, Scream 3) to leave the busty scenery of Mardi Gras for a haunted swamp tour. On the way, they meet Marybeth (Amara Zaragoza, Perfect Stranger), who is the only passenger on the tour who seems to know what they’re in for.
The main characters are likable enough, but the cannon fodder serve their purpose well.
The kills are deliciously creative and wonderfully satisfying. I was brought back to a time when a victim’s most timely demise would invoke squirms from gore and squeals of glee from the audience. Hatchet may not be a deeply cognitive film, but it makes up for it in pure fun.
As a love letter to 80s splatter, all of the film’s effects are practical. Personally, I felt that the brutal and incredibly hands-on kills are Hatchet‘s strongest feature, so the realistically visceral tears and gashes are everything you could ask for.
Kane Hodder is always a force to be reckoned with. His physicality is a blessing to the horror genre and he delivers a quiet gravitas that’s unparalleled. It’s fantastic to see him in these imposing and hyper-focused roles as he can be genuinely scary and animalistic.
When director Adam Green pairs this unbridled strength with his personal comedic timing, it’s a treat.
Hatchet shows that Green really gets horror comedy in its best form. It doesn’t dumb down the horror for the sake of the comedy – it utilizes comedy to accentuate the absurdity of the horror.
So, overall, I’m convinced. I need more of this.
Join us next Wednesday for another round of Late to the Party. Christopher McManus Jr will be watching Aliens for the very first time.
Featured image via Chris Fischer