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One of the most flexible genres in the film has to be the horror flick. There are more variations of this type of movie than just about any other. They can range from serious to comical, from gothic to outer space. Many American made horror films have been made based on the popular counterparts in Japan. Over there the horror is usually more on the psychological level, but when the story makes its trek across the sea, change is made. The American versions are almost always more full of blood, guts, gore, general mayhem and nudity. There is also another American staple, the sequel. Just take a horror film that made some money and keeps cloning it until it is little more than a blood-fest. Last, there is a remake of a typically better done American classic horror flick. At the worse end of this part of the spectrum is the ghastly frame-by-frame remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s famous ‘Psycho.' The 2006 flick ‘Hatchet’ from writer-director Adam Green has an intriguing tagline; ‘Old School American Horror: It's not a remake. It's not a sequel. And it's not based on a Japanese one.’ After reviewing what seemed to be an endless stream of flicks that fall into those categories I have to say it got my interest. Apparently, this feeling was shared by many others. This film was the darling of the film festival circuit back in 2006.

‘Hatchet’ caused a minor uproar with the MPAA when it came time to rate the film. One of the stated purposes of the movie was to start a return to the classic ‘R’ rated horror genre instead of watered down PG-13 that have become more popular lately. This sentiment has caught on with fans that descend on horror conventions with a grassroots ad campaign. The film was cut from the original edit, much to the chagrin of Mr. Green to be acceptable to the all-important festivals and theatrical release. Now, thanks to the freer standards permitted DVDs Anchor Bay / Starz are releasing the ‘Unrated’ Director’s cut. That just means that the little snippets that the MPAA in their infinite wisdom object gets to be inserted back in. This flick has also just joined the ever-growing list of previously released movies that have been given the high definition treatment with 1080p video and lossless DTS audio re-mastering. If you need to see the light glistening off each fountain of blood and hear every scream in the ultra-realistic soundstage provided by this format, then you will not be disappointed with this new edition.

This film is a loving homage to the horror flicks of the eighties. This film succeeds in recreating the aspects of those films perfectly. Of course, that means the flaws of those films are also emulated. There is more stage blood used here in a long time. There are also plenty of nubile young women who can’t seem to keep a blouse button to save their lives. Wait, they also can’t seem to save their lives either. Lastly, there is a good measure of the corny jokes and tongue in cheek humor that made the eighties shine as a decade for horror. This is a perfect movie for a more adult fright night with friends. Turn the lights low, makes sure the kids are at grandma’s place and enjoy.

The film starts the mood off on the right foot with a nighttime shot of two men in a boat drifting down a river in Louisiana. The younger man, Ainsley (Joshua Leonard) is cold and tired and wants to go home, but Pa is out for the biggest gator in the area. The ultimate horror flick blessing is given here since the older man Sampson, is played by Freddy Kruger himself, Robert Englund. Ainsley starts to take a leak off the stern of the little boat, and something is thrashing in the water. They follow the disturbance to the shore and Ainsley goes to check it out. When he gets back, Sampson is eviscerated on the ground. Something grabs him, impales him and pulls his spin out and rips him in half as he screams. Less than six minutes into the film and we have our first double gruesome double homicide. None of this ‘builds the suspense stuff’ here, let’s get right to the gore. The scene shifts to Mardi gras in New Orleans. Seven minutes in and you get your first glimpse of a young lady flashing. This film does herald back to the cult classics of the eighties. You don’t need a reason for violence and nudity, it’s a horror flick, and that is enough justification.

True to form the plot is a flimsy excuse for the action. It is concerned with a deformed boy, Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder), who is thought to have been killed in a prank gone awry. He is not dead, but he does want to make sure as many as possible wind up in that final state. His latest victims come into the dark and dank bayou he inhabits on a lark. Two friends, Ben (Joel Moore) and Marcus (Deon Richmond) decide to take a tour of the haunted bayou to get away from the hedonistic celebration that surrounds them. The tour is arranged at a voodoo shop by another horror celebrity Tony Todd of Candyman fame. He sends them off to where the tour is gathering where they meet two young women, Misty (Mercedes McNab) and Jenna (Joleigh Fioreavanti). When the guys first see the girls they have, they top down gyrating and making out for a camera ‘Girls gone wild’ style for a guy named Shapiro (Joel Murray). The tour is run by Shawn (Parry Shen) who has one of the worse Cajun accents ever. That is about it for a plot. Two friends wanting to get away check; girls willing to get naked, check; idiot loser, check; it seems like everything needed is covered. There is even the prerequisite nice girl, Marybeth (Tamara Feldman) and an older couple, Mr. and Mrs. Permatteo (Richard Riehle and Patrika Darbo). They all get caught in a sudden rainstorm and forced to flee the relative safety of the boat.

Just about the only horror flick tradition but one is exploited here. The black guy is not the first on killed. Other than that this is right out of the playbook. While it can’t get points for originality, it wasn’t intended to be something new. This film is purposed with taking the audience back to the glorious bloody days of the eighties and in that it wildly succeeds. The humor is hokey but still fun. One of the better aspects of the flick is the setting. In so many haunted house movies you have to wonder why they just do leave. Here they victims are cut off from civilization in the middle of nowhere. There are no cell phone towers nearby, and swimming would just mean getting pulled apart by gators instead of a madman. As noted there is a lot of stunt casting here from other members of the genre. One that you might not catch is Mercedes McNab who played a cheerleader vampire on Buffy and Angel. All she is in this flick for is her ability to pull off her top on cue. It is also strange to see Freddy on the receiving end of a killer, nice touch.

There have been a lot of horror flicks released to DVD by Anchor Bay / Starz lately, and this is one of the best. The anamorphic 1.85:1 video is better than most of the other entries in this genre. The Dolby 5.1 is amazing. You can hear every sickly, sticky sound present. There is more than the usual amount of extras provided here. First, there is the required making-of featurette that goes into filming in New Orleans just before the hurricane. Next, there is ‘Meeting Victor Crowley’ where the cast talks about getting to know the man behind the mask. "Guts & Gore’ focuses on the way the blood splattering scenes were constructed. ‘Anatomy of a Kill’ shows how one of the most disgusting scenes in the film was made from storyboard to execution. ‘A Twisted Tale’ has Green talking about how he got the idea for the film. There is also a cast and crew commentary and a gag reel. This is one of the better films like this to come around in many years. The High Definition mastering in extremely well produced. I have previously reviewed this flick in the standard DVD format, and it is notable just how more lively the flick is with this edition. Being a rather new movie, the original elements were readily available so the transfer, as expected, is very clean. In a horror film like this, the blood does glisten with a sticky movement as it flows out of the numerous victims. The video is crystal clear with perhaps more detail than you might be ready for.

Posted 09/0/2010          11/13/2017 

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