Laserblast, September 7: Supernatural, Smallville, Hatchet

Also this week: FORBIDDEN PLANET, DOCTOR WHO, TOMMY, PHANTOM, TMNT, TCM Hammer Horror Collection, and more!

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Tuesday, September 7 is filled with more DVDs and Blu-ray discs than store shelves can possibly hold. Not all of them are new titles – many are re-issues – but there are more than enough worthwhile offerings to make a serous dent in a dedicated collector’s pocketbook. Read on, to see what’s in store…
SUPERNATURAL: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON arrives on 6-disc DVD and a 4-disc  Blu-ray set. Bonus features include “Supernatural: Apocalypse Survival Guides – Bobby’s Exclusive Video Collection,” “Ghostfacers: The Web Series,” Producer-Writer Commentary on Episode 4, The End,” Unaired Scene from Episode 9,The Real Ghostbusters,” and a Gag Reel.
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If that’s not enough television for you, this week  offers up SMALLVILLE: THE COMPLETE NINTH SEASON, which also arrives in a 6-disc DVD set and a 4-disc Blu-ray set. Extras include “Kneel Before Zod” (a look at the Kryptonian criminal), “Justice for All” (the Smallville creative team bring the Justice Society of America to television for the first time), and Cast-Creator Commentaries on episodes “Idol” and” Kandor.”
SyFy Channel’s PHANTOM, an adaptation of the pulp action hero, also makes its way onto home video in the DVD and Blu-ray formats. That’s just about it for high-profile new titles; fortunately, lots of older stuff is resurfacing from the vault.
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Horror hounds will now get to see Victor Crowley’s predations in the magic of high-def, thanks to a Blu-ray release of HATCHET; the disc ports over the bonus material from the previous DVD release and adds a new audio commentary from writer-director Adam Green (whose recent film FROZEN arrives later this month). HATCHET 2 is currently appearing at film festivals, so you better catch up with the first one.
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Fans of classic cinematic science fiction will want to pick up FORBIDDEN PLANET on Blu-ray. The film has been released on DVD in several forms, including a tin collector’s set, but its lovely production design and colorful special effects demand the image resolution that only high-def can provide.
Three DOCTOR WHO titles arrive on DVD this week: PLANET OF FIRE and THE KING’S DEMONS (starring Peter Davison) and THE CREATURE FROM THE PIT (starring Tom Baker).
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Writer-director Ken Russell’s outrageous film fantasy TOMMY, based on The Who’s seminal rock opera, has been remastered and restored in high-def picture and sound for its Blu-ray debut, 35 years after the film reached theatres back in 1975. Unfortunately, the disc lacks featurettes and audio commentary, even though most of the principals are still around, including Russell, Roger Daltrey (who plays the lead), and Pete Townshend (who created the opera and supervised the music).
Previously available titles reappearing on DVD include:

  • TCM GREATEST CLASSIC FILM COLLECTION: HAMMER HORROR (HORROR OF DRACULA, DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE, THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED)
  • TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: 4 FILM FAVORITES (TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES, TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES 88, TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES III, TMNT)
  • A SIMPLE WISH
  • K-PAX (Collector’s Edition)
  • JURASSIC PARK III (Widescreen Collector’s Edition)

Previously available titles arrving in Blu-ray include:

  • STARDUST
  • MARS ATTACKS
  • THX 1138
  • LOST IN SPACE (with William Hurt)
  • MATRIX RELOADED
  • A SCANNER DARKLY

There is also a 6-FILM HORROR BLURAY COLLECTION, featuring the likes of HAUNTING OF WINCHESTER HOUSE and I AM OMEGA. Plus the usual direct-to-video obscurities.
Have fun!
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Hatchet: Blu-ray review

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Anchor Bay’s new Blu-ray disc replaces their old DVD as the definitive edition for fans who want to add the film to their collection.

HATCHET is back – this time on Blu-ray, and just in time for the release of HATCHET 2, which is set to arrive in theatres on October 1. Writer-director Adam Green’s salute to “Old School American Horror” was previously the subject of an excellent “Unrated Director’s Cut DVD,” loaded with extra features. Anchor Bay’s new Blu-ray disc (release date: September 7) ports over their old bonus material and adds a brand new audio commentary with Green and Kane Hodder, who plays the film’s backwoods legend, Victory Crowley. With the behind-the-scenes details having been thoroughly covered in the DVD, there are few gaps to be filled, but the new commentary is a welcome addition, and the widescreen high-def transfer reminds us just how good this modestly budgeted film looks.
HATCHET is presented in a 1080p transfer of its complete, unrated 84-minute cut, with 1.78 aspect ratio for 16×9 televisions, with the English audio track in Dolby TrueHD 5.1, and with subtitles in Spanish, English for the hearing impaired. Although Adam Green, in the audio commentary, expresses reservations about the high-def transfer (which he apparently feels will reveal flaws in the image), the photography actually looks quite wonderful. The atmosphere of the swamp – as much as over-the-top gore – makes the film work, and this is rendered with beautiful clarity: the night scenes are dark and shadowy, without being murky, and every drop of slow-motion blood gleams like a liquid ruby.
The disc’s sole new feature, the audio commentary with Green and Hodder, mostly eschews details of the film’s production, instead addressing the aftermath: going to festivals, finding distribution, battling the MPAA. Green expresses frustration over HATCHET’s limited theatrical release (marred by weak promotional support and cuts need to achieve an R-rating) but focuses most of his attention on pointing out subtle details that set up HATCHET 2: for example, Victor Crowley’s skin coloring hints at his parentage, which involves a Voodoo curse. Green also recalls that his producer bugged him about whether it was worth the effort to get Tony Todd (CANDYMAN) to play a brief cameo as Reverend Zombie; Green insisted, knowing the character would play a much larger role in the sequel.

Kane Hodder doing a burn stunt as the deformed Victor Crowley
Kane Hodder doing a burn stunt as the deformed Victor Crowley

Overall, this commentary is less jokey and fragmented than the previous one, which was interrupted by technical troubles and suffered from the absence of Hodder. The actor, best known as the stunt man who wore Jason’s mask in FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 7 through X, expresses appreciation for being given an opportunity to play dramatic scenes with out makeup (in flashbacks of Victor Crowley’s father), and he happily notes that he was satisfied with the kills as written in the script (he usually insists on adding his own twists).
Unlike Anchor Bay’s recent Limited Edition Blu-ray of THE EVIL DEAD (which was missing some bonus material from its previous Ultimate Edition DVD), the HATCHET Blu-ray includes all the previously available features. These include:

  • Audio Commentary with Co-Producer-Writer-Director Adam Green, Co-Producer-Cinematographer Will Barratt and Actors Tamara Feldman, Joel David Moore and Deon
  • The Making of Hatchet
  • Meeting Victor Crowley: An in-depth look at the creation of a new horror icon
  • Guts & Gore: Go behind the scenes of Hatchet’s special makeup and prosthetic effects
  • Anatomy of a Kill: Witness the “jaw-breaking” birth, design and execution of a death scene
  • A Twisted Tale: Writer/Director Adam Green recounts his decades-long friendship with “Twisted Sister” front man Dee Snider
  • Gag Reel
  • Theatrical Trailer

The featurettes are presented in 1.33, standard def. For more details, read our review of the DVD here.
With its good-looking high-def transfer, new audio commentary, and inclusion of all the old bonus material, Anchor Bay’s Blu-ray disc becomes the definitive version for fans who have yet to add HATCHET to their collections. Those who already own the DVD may think twice about whether the new commentary is worth the price of a second purchase, but the improved picture and sound quality enhance the horrors in a way that brings the viewing experience to life even more vividly than before.
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Hatchet coming to Blu-ray

hatchet bd
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HATCHET (2006) – writer-director Adam Green’s gleefully gory homage to slasher films of the 1970s and ’80s – is coming to Blu-ray on September 7. The new disc will feature the unrated director’s cut, not the R-rated cut released briefly in theatres in 2007. Bonus features from the previous DVD release (reviewed here) will be ported over, and add a new audio commentary will be added, featuring Green and actor-stuntman Kane Hodder, who plays the unstoppable menace Victor Crowley.
More info below:

Street Date: September 7, 2010
Pre-book: August 11, 2010
Cat. #: BD21841
UPC: 0 1313 21841-9 7
Run Time: 84 Minutes
Rating: Unrated
SRP: $29.99
Format: 1.78:1 / 16×9 1080p
Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Subtitles: Spanish, English SDH
Bonus Features:

  • NEW Audio Commentary with Co-Producer/Writer/Director Adam Green and Star Kane Hodder
  • Audio Commentary with Co-Producer/Writer/Director Adam Green, Co-Producer/Cinematographer Will Barratt and Actors Tamara Feldman, Joel David Moore and Deon
  • The Making of Hatchet
  • Meeting Victor Crowley: An in-depth look at the creation of a new horror icon
  • Guts & Gore: Go behind the scenes of Hatchet’s special makeup and prosthetic effects
  • Anatomy of a Kill: Witness the “jaw-breaking” birth, design and execution of a death scene
  • A Twisted Tale: Writer/Director Adam Green recounts his decades-long friendship with “Twisted Sister” front man Dee Snider
  • Gag Reel
  • Theatrical Trailer

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London After Midnight: Film4 FrightFest to screen Hatchet 2 and Last Exorcism

Hatchet 2August 26 this year sees the World Premier of HATCHET 2 at this this year’s Film4 FrightFest in London’s Empire Cinema. The opening night event will be attended by director Adam Green and cast members including Kane Hodder, Danielle Harris and Tony Todd.
HATCHET 2 promises even more gore and darker humour. Green says “Having the World Premiere at the opening night of FrightFest is really a homecoming for my monster Victor Crowley and I. It’s important to me that the first audience to see this should be the very audience that breathed life into HATCHET and turned it into a franchise. While the first film was a love letter to the films I grew up on, this film is my love letter to the fans – the original “Hatchet Army”.
And although FrightFest have premiered both HOSTEL and CABIN FEVER, Director Eli Roth will be making his first FrightFest appearance, when he and director Daniel Stamm close the festival with the European Premiere of THE LAST EXCORCISM on Monday August 30th.
THE LAST EXORCISM sees the disillusioned Reverend Cotton (played by Patrick Fabian) arrive at a Louisiana farm expecting to perform his last ‘routine’ exorcism but nothing could prepare him for the true horrors that lie ahead….
With such a fantastic opening and closing night already announced, one can only imagine the horrors that will be sandwiched in between!
Film4 FrightFest 2010 runs from Thurs 26th August to Monday 30th August at the Empire Cinema, Leicester Square. Festival & day passes go on sale from 3rd July. Tickets for Individual films will be on sale from 26 July. Bookings: 08 714 714 714 or www.empirecinemas.co.uk
As from 16th July, FrightFest will be launching a bi-monthly E-zine, packed full of exciting content, with exclusive world-wide access to the talent both in front and behind the latest films. To register for the E-Zine go here: http://www.frightfest.co.uk/e-zineregistrati.html
I’ll announce more updates as they happen.

Agressive Alligators and Killer Crocodiles

Ramon the alligator crashes a wedding party in the tongue-in-cheek ALLIGATOR (1980).Let’s face it: When it comes to movie monsters, the Order of Crocodilia get little respect. Sure, the snapping jaws of alligators and crocodiles (and their lesser known cousins, caimans and gharials) can send a shiver up your spine, but will they give you nightmares after the movie is over? Their prehistoric, scaly appearance suggests a living dinosaur, but they are a bit too slow and lazy to inspire the sort of irrational mortal dread we associate with sharks (which get a bum rap for being man-eaters because something about their sleek, silent appearance registers in our brains as an archetype of Grim Death). Consequently, no killer croc movie has ever captured the public’s imagination a la JAWS; instead, aggressive alligators are more likely to appear in low-budget exploitation films. Fortunately, fans of rampaging reptiles – if they are not too timid to explore the blood-stained depths of the cinematic swamp – may find a few fresh titles floating side by side with the corrupt carrion.
ALLIGATOR (1980). Undoubtedly the highpoint of this small genre, this tongue-in-cheek horror film boasts a fun script by John Sayles that is loaded with inside jokes and clever characterization. The story follows a baby alligator, named Ramon, who is flushed down the toilet and grows to giant size thanks to eating discarded animal experiments filled with growth hormones. Director Lewis Teague keeps the action moving and serves up the bloody violence with gusto. A times we cringe at Ramon’s predations (the film violates one of the cardinal rules of horror cinema, by having the gator eat a young kid); at other times we cheer Ramon on (as when he crashes the wedding party hosted by the owner of the company responsible for the animal experiments). Filmed in the days befor computer-generated imagery, the alligator effects are technically dated, but they remain among the most effective ever seen, including a full-sized mock-up and a live alligator (a juvenile filmed against miniature backdrops to make it look huge). You wont’ see any alligator acrobatics or death rolls, but the texture of of the live-action effects is more than enough compensation, and clever editing hides the clunkiness of the full-scale prop. Special kudos go to this film for answering the question that plagues all rampaging reptile movies: in real life, the cold-blooded creatures spend most of their time lying around, eating only occasionally, so why is Ramon so aggressively attacking and eating everything in sight? Those growth hormones have artificially accelerated his metabolism. Upon learning of the unhealthy side effects of the gator’s chemical cocktail diet, our hero drily remarks, “Maybe it’ll die of cancer.” Eleven years later, ALLIGATOR was “honored” with a sequel, the now-forgotten ALLIGATOR II: THE MUTATION.
ROGUE (2007). Greg McLean’s follow-up to WOLF CREEK is an obvious attempt to fashion a JAWS-type film with a crocodile instead of a shark. A fairly elaborate production, the film features good characterization and some admirable restraint in terms of gore and special effects. The titular Salt Water Crocodile is only briefly glimpsed until the end. The CGI may not completely fool a sharp eye, but it is very well rendered, and the croc’s behavior is mostly scaled down to believable levels, which makes the horror more convincing. Of course, like all movies of this type, the animal displays the metabolism of a mammal rather than a reptile. The script goes some way toward addressing this issue by stating that the croc is territorial – killing the invaders and storing them for later, rather than eating them all at once.
LAKE PLACID (1999). This is a schizophrenic effort: half horror, half comedy. It works in bits and pieces, but the bits and pieces never mesh together into a satisfying whole. Blame it on a conflict of sensibilities between writer-producer David E. Kelly (known for his witty television shows) and director Steve Miner (known for his gory FRIDAY THE 13 sequels). The alligator is not bad, but the film cannot make up its mind about how to treat it. When it bites off someone’s head, we’re supposed to scream; when we see an eccentric old woman (who has “adopted” the gator) feed it a live-cow, we’re supposed to chortle in amusement at the absurdity. As crazy as it is, this is worth a look-see, for the strange combination of humor and horror. 2007 gave us a made-for-television sequel LAKE PLACID II, which featured no returning talent from the original.
PRIMEVAL (2007). In this pretentious political allegory, a man-eating crocodile is a metaphor for civil war in an African country. Although loosely based on a true story about a crocodile known as Gustav, the concept is hard to take seriously, and you get the feeling that the screenwriters are talking down to their audience, lecturing them with redeeming social consciousness instead of getting down to the nitty-gritty with the alligator action. Gustav himself is fun as long as you give up any hope of actually believing he’s a real animal. The computer-generated effects go for broke, showing the animal runing like a gazelle, leaping from the water like a marlin, and pretty much doing anything else the effects people can think of. In the end, the film is actually entertaining, though not in the way intended: because the scenario takes itself so seriously, the result emerges as unintentional camp, good for a laugh.
EATEN ALIVE (1977). Tobe Hooper’s follow-up to TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE features Neville Brand as a crazy motel proprietor who feeds his guests to the ferocious alligator living next door in the swamp. Most of the focus is on the human psycho, with the alligator in a supporting role, occasionally popping up to munch on a pet dog or kill off one of the supporting cast.  (Freddie Kruger fans take note: Robert Englund makes his debut in this film.) Decades later, Hooper made another croc movie, appropriately titled CROCODILE (2000), which somehow inspired a sequel, appropriately titled CROCODILE 2: DEATH SWAMP (2002).
HATCHET (2006). Talking about psycho killers in a swamp, here’s another one, and there is an alligator in this film, too. The opening scene features a couple of poachers killed off while hunting a big gator, and later an alligator (perhaps the same one) munches on the leg of a tourist after the tour boat runs aground. It could be just a coincidence but EATEN ALIVE’s Robert Englund plays one of the unfortunate poachers; I tend to think that writer-director Adam Green cast him as a deliberately jokey inside reference to the Tobe Hooper film. Also worth noting: the basic set-up of HATCHET is recycled in ROGUE.
ERASER (1996). This action flick features a memorable crocodile cameo. While battling the bad guys in a zoo, Arnold Schwarzenegger shoots the glass of a crocodile pen, releasing the animals so that they can chow down on the villains. Coming a few years after JURASSIC PARK (the big breakthrough for computer-generated reptiles), this film may feature the first example of CGI crocodiles. Typically, these are turbo-charged beasts that bear little resemblance to the real thing – they act as if their handlers haven’t fed them in weeks. Unfortunately, Schwarzenegger shows little gratitude for the assistance they provide, casually shooting one while deliering the lame-ass one-liner, “You’re luggage.”
DINOCROC (2004). This Roger Corman production aims to recreate the feel of an old drive-in exploitation movie, to mostly good effect. The titular monster is the result of some kind of experiment at one of those good-for-nothing evil corporate laboratories that proliferate in this kind of film (and in real life for that matter). Perhaps more dino than croc, the monster is not really convincing, but if you take the leap of faith known as suspension of disbelief, you will have a pretty good time with this. Notable for the unexpected death of a characters whose youth seemed to put him safely in the “Survivor” category.
ONE MILLION B.C. (1940). Producer Hal Roach was too cheap to fork over cash for stop-motion effects, so this prehistoric fantasy features real-life reptiles made-up with fins and horns to resemble dinosaurs – including a baby alligator that fights a lizard. The animal action is, unfortunately, real, and it is the kind of thing the SPCA would never allow today. Recycled as stock footage, this alligator-versus-lizard fight became almost a staple of low-budget sci-fi films, being reused in the awful ROBOT MONSTER among others.
THE LOST WORLD (1961). Decades after ONE MILLION B.C., producer Irwin Allen employed the same cost-saving technique (modern reptiles made-up as prehistoric dinosaurs) to film this color remake of the 1925 silent film based on the Arthur Conan Dolye novel. The SPCA were still not on the ball, and you can clearly see the monitor lizard and the alligator really biting each other during their battle. Also like ONE MILLION B..C., this footage ended up being recycled – in the “Terror on Dinosaur Island” episode of Allen’s TV series VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA.
And so it goes. Family members of the Order of Crocodilia have shown up in THE GREAT ALLIGATOR (1979), KILLER CROCODILE (1989) and KILLER CROCODILE II (1990), and KROCODYLUS (aka BLOOD SURF, 2000). Never one to let an old idea die a painless death, the Sci Fi Channel gave us 2007’s CROC, about a man-eating crocodile menacing a tourist location in Thailand. The most recent efforts to reach U.S. shores are not one but two Australian productions, BLACK WATER (2007) and ROGUE, which arrived on DVD after pretty much bypassing theatres. In the case of ROGUE, that is altogether unfortunate, because the film is good enough to redeem the genre’s reputation if only it had been given half a chance to find an audience. Oh well, like I said at the top, as movie monsters go, alligators and crocodiles get no respect.

Pretending to be a dinosaur, an alligator fights a Komodo Dragon in the 'Terror on Dinosaur Island' episode of VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA. The footage is recycled from the 1961 feature film THE LOST WORLD.

Hatchet on DVD

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click to purchase

The biggest cinematic crime of 2007 is that Adam Green’s retro-slasher masterpiece HATCHET was consigned to a low-profile stealth release on the same weekend that Rob Zombie’s misguided HALLOWEEN remake opened in thousands of theatres nationwide. The second biggest crime is that HATCHET was trimmed to earn an R-rating from the Motion Picture Association of America. In effect, when the film landed in a handful of theatres, you barely had a chance to see it at all, and even if it was playing nearby, you couldn’t see the complete film, just the expurgated version. Well, thanks to the miracles of modern technology, you can now enjoy the real-deal on a DVD that is loaded with entertaining extras. In fact, this is one of the best DVD releases of the year, thanks to some behind-the-scenes bonus features that feel more like a true making-of documentary than the promotional puffery usually found on these discs. Read More

Hatchet will hack its way to DVD in unrated form

HATCHET – the ultra-cool neo-slasher flick that got a brief platform release a few weeks back – is headed to DVD on December 18 from Anchor Bay Entertainment. There will be two versions available: the R-rated theatrical cut and the unrated cut that wowed fans around the world on the festival circuit. Plus, the discs will be loaded with behind the scenes extras that reveal how writer-director Adam Green managed to achieve so much on a low buget.
Read the official press release below the fold.
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Sense of Wonder: AFI classics & Victor Crowley at ArcLight

One of the nice things about living in Hollywood is that, even in the era of home video, there are still plenty of opportunitiies to see classic movies on the big screen. The latest example of this is the American Film Institute’s upcoming 40th anniversary celebration, during which eleven great movies will screen on a single night. Festivals of this type typically overlook genre films, but that is not the case here; horror, fantasy, and science fiction are all represented, thanks to the presence of THE BIRDS (1963), BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (1990), and STAR WARS (1977).
As an extra added enticement, each screening will have a guest introduce the film: actress Tippi Hedren for THE BIRDS, actress Angela Lansbury for BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, and director George Lucas for STAR WARS.
The screening takes place on October 3 at 7:00pm in the ArcLight Cinemas in Hollywood. Tickets are $25, available at the ArcLight box office at AFI.com, beginning Wednesday.
UPDATE: Speaking of the ArcLight Cinemas in Hollywood (www.arclightcinemas.com), Victor Crowley himself – that is to say, actor-stuntman Kane Hodder, who plays the unstoppable villain, will appear at the Friday 10:00pm screening of HATCHET at the theatre. Writer-director Adam Green will be there, along with actress Tamara Feldman, who plays the gun-toting Mary Beth. Last Friday’s special screening (with Green and other members of the cast and crew) sold out, so you might want to buy tickets ASAP if you’re interested in attending. Click here if you want to read Adam Green’s announcement of the screening.

Hatchet (2006)

A tour of the swamp turns to terror in the horror homage HATCHET.

Slasher homage exceeds originals

This may be the bucket of blood that splatter fans were eagerly anticipating (those for whom FRIDAY THE 13TH is a fond memory), but it is also an excellent horror film with solid scripting and strong performances that make it appealing to a wider audience.
The movie is an unapologetic throwback to 1980s slasher films, with numerous tips of the hats to its progenitors. Robert Englund (best known as dream demon Freddy Kruger) has a cameo as an early victim; Tony Todd (best known as Candyman) puts in a brief, comical appearance; makeup man John Carl Buechler (FROM BEYOND) provides the carnage and appears on-screen as the obligatory prophet of doom, a drunken old loon warning the tourists that death awaits them in the swamp. Finally, Kane Hodder (best known as masked killer Jason Voorhees) plays the mad, mutant, and possibly supernatural psycho-killer.
Which is completely appropriate because HATCHET, like FRIDAY THE 13TH, is about some teen-agers stalked by a mad killer in the woods. The story follows a group of friends on vacation who decided to take a night-time boat tour; unfortunately, the boat runs aground, stranding them in the middle of territory presided over – or so legend has it – by the deformed off-spring of a lonely cabin-dweller who was killed by a Halloween prank gone wrong.
Set in the Louisiana bayou, the film has atmosphere to spare, and even the obligatory legend explaining the killer’s existence is presented with panache. The suggestion of supernatural overtones (the killer is supposed to have died in the fire that killed his father), along with the creepiness of the location, creates an ambience wherein the existence of an apparently unstoppable killer seems complete convincing – not just an obligatory genre convention.


HATCHET far exceeds its inspiration models, thanks to convincing execution by writer-director Adam Greenberg, who makes the gore scenes really hurt. Working with a convincing cast of characters – none of whom deserves their fate – he creates a wonderfully aggressive horror show filled with equal parts suspense and shock. Viewers won’t find themselves bored between atrocities, eagerly awaiting the next geyser of gore to break the tedium; even jaded gore hounds may find themselves squirming in dreadful anticipation of what will happen next. The film’s violence is unapologetically unrestrained; in fact, the film is almost too effective, becoming frightening rather than fun as the hapless tourists are picked off one by one in hideously graphic fashion: decapitation by shovel, a power saw to the face, and arms ripped out of their sockets, etc.
If there is any obvious flaw to HATCHET, it lies in perhaps too close an adherence to its role models, which inevitably served up obligatory “surprise” endings that left doors open for sequels. After exceeding expectations with its sense of credible story-telling, it’s a bit disappointing to see HATCHET surrender to mechanical genre conventions. The ending plays like a sop thrown to the hard-core horror hounds who don’t give a damn about character or story so long as there’s shock aplenty on view. The shock certainly works, but it yanks you out of the realm of verisimilitude, where you are genuinely frightened, and tosses you back into the movie-movie world, where you hoot and holler like someone enjoying a ride on a roller-coaster. The thrill’s still there, but it lacks the genuinely disturbing touch of something like THE DESCENT.

TRIVIA

Victor Crowley confronts a tourist in the bayou.The film earned a reputation as a crowd-pleasing horror fave on the festival circuit in 2006. At its final festival screening, at Screamfest in Hollywood, October 2006, writer-director Adam Green told the eager audience. “Since we first showed it in March, this print has been all around the world, and I’ve been with it. Right now, I feel about like the print looks.” He pumped up the audience by adding, “Our best response has been in London, because those fuckers are crazy, but since this is the end of the tour and we’re back home, I think you can beat them. Let’s rip the roof off this place!” That was the first – but not the last -time that the audience erupted into applause.
The poster art for the film’s festival tour proudly proclaimed that HATCHET is “old school horror” (circa 1980): “It’s not a sequel. It’s not a remake. And it’s not based on a Japanese one.”  Truer words were never spoken.
After is festival run, HATCHET was picked up for home video distribution by Anchor Bay Entertainment, a company known for their excellent limited edition DVDs devoted to cult horror movies. The company opted to schedule for film for a platform theatrical release in 2007. The MPAA is likely to demand some major cuts in exchange for an R-rating. The film is strong enough to withstand the censors scissors without losing too much of its effectiveness.
SPOILER ALRERT: HATCHET drops a few subtle hints that lay the seeds for future sequels. In the flashback of the Halloween trick-or-treat gone wrong, the camera lingers on the masked face of one of the pranksters, without revealing his identity – which will probably be revealed in any follow-up. Most likely, he will turn out to be the alligator hunter, played by Robert Englund, who is an early victim in the film, making his death not one of random violence but of revenge.
HATCHET (2006). Written & directed by Adam Green. Cast: Joel David Moore, Tamara Feldman, Deon Richmond, Mercedes McNab, Kane Hodder, Parry Shen, Joleigh Fioreavanti, Joel Murray, Richard Riehle, Patrika Darbo, Robert Englund, Joshua Leonard, Tony Todd, John Carl Buechler
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