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Hatchet II - Blu-ray Review

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Hatchet 2 - Blu-ray Movie Review

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3 Stars

From its stylized opening, Hatchet II begins with much better production values than its predecessor.  Yet, the homage to 1980’s horror schlock remains.  Adam Green’s Hatchet II picks up exactly where the original ended – except this time our lead female character from the last film, manages to survive Victor Crowley’s final submerged swamp attack.  This film is her revenge.  Continuing with the over-the-top gore and humor, Hatchet II isn’t perfect, but for horror aficionados, it ain’t half bad either.

With characters named Reverend Zombie (Candyman’s Tony Todd), Uncle Bob (Tom Holland, famed director and writer of Child’s Play), Marybeth (Danielle Harris, from the Halloween series who should have played this role from the beginning), Jack Cracker (director and horror make-up guru John Carl Buechler), and Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder from the Friday the 13th series), the tone of Green’s sequel has its tongue firmly in its cheek.  There’s another haunted swamp tour in a better boat – more of a barge – as a new list of recruits go hunting for the crashed and abandoned boat from the first movie.  In quick succession, they discover the ghost of the mutated Victor Crowley is very real and very bloody.  Without realizing it, their mission – with the grand prize of $5000 for the first who captures the killer – is already fated for damnation.  Even equipped with the presence of R.A. Mihailoff, who portrayed Leatherface in Texas Chainsaw Massacre III, the gang won’t survive.

Written and directed by Adam Green, Hatchet II doesn’t really test the limitations of the genre it’s paying homage to (again), but it does improve upon the really awful acting of the first.  These people are dicks to each other and you’ll laugh at the redneck flavor of the swamp-soaked antics, but to expect anything that rivals the gore days of Hollywood Horror would be a bit … excessive.  It’s a tried and true slasher film with lots of blood and even more boobs than the original.  Still, the kills are hysterical – with some being drawn out so much that they become an inspired bit of humor.

Green and Co’s sick and twisted sensibilities are stamped all over this flick; the dialogue is horribly ripe with jocular schlockiness, piss-soaked paranoia, and high school level lust and the set-ups for the multiple kills are both hysterical and predictable.  The gore level is high – and when Crowley gets his hatchet stuck in the breast bone of one female hunter – you know a heavy splatter’s a-gonna fall.  Essentially, nothing gets untouched by Crowley’s apocalyptic kill count ratio.

The weakness comes with Hatchet II in that it simply isn’t funny enough.  There are a few references to horror classics and even a great call out to Green’s own Frozen (a film you simply HAVE to see), but there’s not enough humor to keep the suspense at play as the sole reason to keep watching.  It has to be a balancing act and maybe only director Sam Raimi (The Evil Dead, Drag Me to Hell, Darkman) can master that act.

There’s a reason this violent fun-fest went unrated and stayed that way in theatres for a little under a week before it got yanked.  In spite of Green’s great direction, there’s also a reason why the much promised Hatchet III & IV probably won’t happen with or without his involvement.  As is there a reason that very few people saw either this film or its predecessor in theatres.  Personally, I embrace what he's trying to do and I hope he continues mining this vein, but - while Hatchet II is better than the first - I was hoping for the humor to remain intact.  Sadly, it's not as strong this time out.  Hatchet II is gruesome, hysterically gnarly at times, always grisly, only for a certain type of audience, and, ultimately, just barely escapes from being a bit of a sudsy sequel overkill.

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{2jtab: Film Info}

Hatchet 2 - Blu-ray Movie ReviewMPAA Rating: R for strong bloody horror violence, sexual content, nudity and language. (edited version)
Director
: Adam Green
Writer
: Adam Green
Cast:
Danielle Harris; Tony Todd; Kane Hodder; Parry Shen
Genre
: Horror
Tagline:
Victor Crowley Lives Again
Memorable Movie Quote: "Bbrrreeeeeeacccch!"
Distributor:
Dark Sky Films
Release Date:
No major theatrical release.
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
February 1, 2011

Synopsis: Adam Green's Hatchet II picks up at the exact moment that 2006's Hatchet ends, wherein the quiet but hot-tempered Marybeth (Danielle Harris) is in a small boat in the Louisiana swamps, screaming for her life as she tries to free herself from the clutches of the deformed, swamp-dwelling killer Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder). Crowley has murdered Marybeth's family and other fellow vacationers who had come together on a tourist excursion in the swamplands outside of New Orleans.

Marybeth escapes from Crowley and manages to make it back to civilization, where she once again encounters voodoo shop proprietor Reverend Zombie (Tony Todd), who had helped to arrange Marybeth and company's earlier, ill-fated tour of the area. To help Marybeth and also serve his own secret agenda, Reverend Zombie recruits a hardened pack of hunters to head back into the swamp to seek revenge on Victor Crowley.

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{2jtab: Blu-ray Details}

Hatchett II - Blu-ray Movie Review

Component Grades
Movie

Blu-ray Disc
3 Stars

4 stars



Blu-ray Experience
3.5 Stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - February 1, 2011
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English SDH, Spanish
Audio:
English: Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)

The transfer is depressingly dark; stylized, I realize, but still really dark and dull – meaning the only color you really get is red and what a dynamic red it is, too.  Bold and bloody and splattered everywhere. The dominant colors throughout the picture are black, green, and a sick orange tint in the flashbacks of Victor Crowley. While the daylight scenes are defined, the night scenes (primarily 75% of the movie) are a bit murky and saturated by shadows, veiling in the swampiness of the bayou. The intense audio track is presented in a dynamic DTS-HD MA 5.1 sound field.

Supplements:

Commentary:

There are two excellent commentary tracks for Hatchet II.

  • The first, dubbed the production commentary, is provided by Green, cinematographer Will Barratt, and make-up artist Robert Pendergraft.
  • The second comes from the cast and is provided by Green, Kane Hodder, and Tony Todd.

Special Features:

As with most of Green’s movies, there’s a lot of supplemental material – enough to get a feel for his guiding sense behind the scenes.  He knows what he’s doing and so does his crew.  For fans of his work, this is a serious bonus to picking up his work. We want to know. He tells us. The behind the scenes footage is never weak or insincere and always spot-on and complete.

The breakdown of bonus material is as follows:

  • Hatchet II: Behind the Screams (38 min)
  • Hatchet II EPK (Including First Look & Meet the FX Team) (12 min)
  • Trailer
  • Teaser
  • Radio Spot

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{2jtab: Trailer}

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