CULT CORNER: Hatchet (2006)

John celebrates the return of old school horror with Adam Green’s cult slasher flick. 

Who made it?: Adam Green (Director/Writer), Scott Altomare, Sarah Elbert, Cory Neal (Producers), ArieScope Pictures/High Seas Entertainment/Radioaktive Film. 

Who’s in it?: Joel David Moore, Tamara Feldman, Deon Richmond, Kane Hodder, Mercedes McNab, Robert Englund, Tony Todd.

Tagline: “Old school American Horror.”

IMDb rating: 5.7/10.

Just when I thought fun, unapologetic horror was dead, a little independent film called Hatchet came along and restored my faith in the slasher genre, bringing it back to life in a blaze of glory. Old school horror was back with a vengeance!

The story? A tour boat out to the haunted New Orleans swamp quickly turns into a bloody fight for survival when local legend and unstoppable monster “Victor Crowley” doesn’t take too kindly to trespassers in his creepy abode.

Produced on a budget of $1,500,000, Hatchet was written and directed by young up and comer Adam Green. A fan and self-confessed geek of the genre, Green steadily worked his way up the Hollywood ladder, self-producing most of his projects, beginning with the self-biographical romantic comedy Coffee & Donuts (2000), which was made for a measly $400. Projects that followed would include Spiral (2007), television series Holliston (2012-present) and, most recently, Digging Up the Marrow (2014). Along with other horror maestros of the new millennium, such as Eli Roth (Cabin Fever), Neil Marshall (Dog Soldiers), Alexandre Aja (Switchblade Romance), and James Wan (Saw), Green became a member of the Splat Pack. 21st Century horror was in good hands.

Hatchet’s cast is a great ensemble of old and new faces, with horror legends Robert Englund, Tony Todd and Kane Hodder, and younger talent like Joel Moore and Tamara Feldman blending well together. But, of course, the star of the grisly show is Hodder as the nightmarish Victor Crowley. With the stunt performer turned actor having already played the infamous hockey-masked killer Jason Vorhees in four instalments of the Friday the 13th series, Hodder was the perfect choice for the role. His physical presence and subtle characteristics make Crowley a villain you can both love and hate. Crowley is a movie monster so vicious and relentless that he could’ve easily been the product of gangbang involving Jason Vorhees, Michael Myers and Freddy Krueger. He is definitely a character born from the same mold as those other horror icons, and helps bring back that Boogeyman quality to the genre which had been sorely lacking for so many years.

What I love most about Hatchet is that it doesn’t pretend to be anything other than what it is, and that is an entertaining gorefest that goes straight for the jugular without an ounce of remorse. If this film had been made in the early 80s, it most probably would have ended up on the UK’s Video Nasties list. Hatchet is a film that I instantly fell in love with the moment I saw it. As a big fan of 80s slashers, this well-crafted homage satisfied my every need. Call me old-fashioned, but I do enjoy my horror clichés, and this film has them in abundance. It’s funny, scary and completely insane. How many times have you seen some poor victim get their face demolished by a gas-powered sander? And with two sequels, Hatchet has become a cult classic franchise with a trilogy that will keep genre buffs shockingly entertained.

Green is a filmmaker whose work I greatly admire, and I’m yet to be disappointed with his offerings. His love and passion for all things horrifying is clearly evident in everything he does. And if anyone is thinking of accusing Green of being a one-trick pony, then they seriously need to checkout his brilliantly-executed chiller Frozen (2010), starring Shawn Ashmore (X-Men) and Emma Bell (Dallas), not to be mistaken with the Disney hit. Go fuck yourself, Elsa! Yeah, I know, I should just “Let It Go.” And even if you’re not a fan of Found Footage horror, Digging Up the Marrow is a unique and crazy monster movie that people should really give a chance.

Hatchet was originally released on 27th April, 2006 at the Tribeca Film Festival, soon growing into a cult hit amongst horror fans as it made waves on the festival scene. Other festivals included the London FrightFest, Germany’s Fantasy Film Festival, Sitges International Film Festival in Spain, Weekend De La Peur in France, and Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas, where the film was sold out on both nights. By the time the film had reached the end of its successful festival tour, Green had managed to secure a U.S. distributor. As is usually the case with horror flicks, Hatchet received mixed reviews. Peter Bradshaw from The Guardian called the film, “A reasonably serviceable horror.” Whereas the good folk at Bloody Disgusting said it was, “A bloody great ride.” Standard.

If you like your horrors blood-soaked, overly gruesome and with crude humour, then look no further than Hatchet. With its 80s style and no-nonsense approach to filmmaking, this little beastie is a real treat for old school slasher fans.

Best Scene

Who would’ve thought you could turn a human being into a Pez dispenser?

Useless Trivia

(Via IMDb)
  • Adam Green created a “No CGI” rule for post-production. Only CGI was used to remove on-screen wires and camera set-ups.
  • When actor Joel David Moore vomits on screen, it is real. Green did not want the actors spitting out fake vomit like most films do. Though Joel managed to throw-up on his own for the first take, he was supplied with a mixture of cold clam chowder and orange juice for the second take.
  • The horribly deformed Young Victor Crowley is actually played by a beautiful young actress named Rileah Vanderbilt. When FX artist John Carl Buechler needed a model to test the latex prosthetic on, Rileah was the volunteer. Since the FX had already been molded to her face for the test shots, Rileah played the role in the film.
  • The T-shirt with the odd-looking smiley face on it is the logo for Newbury Comics, a New England chain that sells CDs, DVDs and comic books. Green grew up in Massachusetts and would buy his horror movies and action figures from there.

John Cowdell

I have been writing and producing short films for over ten years and are now branching out into film reviews.

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