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HATCHET 2
DVD / Blu-ray. Arrow Films.

Hatchet 2A terrible confession: I haven’t actually seen Hatchet. There’s no particular reason for this – it just never came my way. But that means that I’m thrown in at that deep end here, as Hatchet 2 picks up directly from the final shot of the first film – with Danielle Harris replacing original Final Girl Tamara Feldman (which should make for interesting viewing should anyone decide to splice the two together) as Marybeth in the clutches of mutant madman Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder). A vicious eye-poke later and she is free, escaping across the Louisiana swamplands.

Eventually winding up in New Orleans, she naturally goes to visit Reverend Zombie (Tony Todd), who had organised the original trip to hell in the first film. She convinces him to help her rescue the bodies of her friends and family – and his boat – by raising a posse to go to the swamp and lay the ghost of Crowley forever. For horror movie reasons, they do this at night, and before long, the assorted rednecks and croc hunters are being offed in spectacularly gory fashion by Crowley and his surprisingly varied collection of power tools and weapons. Zombie, however, has his own motivations for the expedition – a hope that by sacrificing the remaining two people who were responsible for Crowley’s ‘death’ (something we see as a flashback origin story), he will exorcise the ghost and be able to reclaim the swamp.

One advantage of coming into the story midway through is that the build-up and teen antics that the first film looks to be full of are dispensed with - the action kicks off right away and rarely slows down, as the cast of refreshingly non-teens poke around in the swamp like lambs to the slaughter. Being a reclusive mutant ghost certainly doesn’t seem to have stopped Crowley’s trips to the hardware store, and his kills are ridiculously, hilariously excessive – the scene with the world’s biggest chainsaw is a sure crowd pleaser, and old-school gore fans will be glad to hear that the deaths are suitably protracted and gory, with physical effects rather than unconvincing CGI. If you want blood, this is the film for you.

Hatchet 2 Crowley’s origin scene is effectively done, with Hodder playing his own father, and manages to up the bad taste elements with a rather nasty birth – though of course, it just adds more plot holes for anyone who cares to explore them (if Crowley is a ghost, why is he an adult when he died as a child? If he’s not a ghost, why is he so damned indestructible?). To be honest, if you worry about that sort of thing, you’re really watching the wrong movie.

Adam Green’s direction can’t be faulted – while there’s no real tension in a film as familiar in construct as this, he handles both the pre-kill and the splatter scenes with panache, and ensures there’s enough gratuitous nudity to keep exploitation fans satisfied. He might not be the saviour of horror that he claims (the idea of anyone saving horror – not that it needs saving - by reviving the Friday the 13th formula is pretty hilarious, given that those films were generally seen as the ones that almost killed the genre in the 1980s) but he knows how the genre works and what his audience wants – this includes appearances from assorted horror actors (Todd has an extended role here and seems to relish being in something above the quality of the stuff he’s been doing in recent years) and references to other genre movies – until Tarantino directs a slasher film, I doubt anyone else will be quite as fanboyish with his dialogue.

Fast, furious, blood-soaked and thoroughly entertaining, Hatchet 2 should keep fans of the original satisfied, and – as I can personally attest – is entirely accessible for anyone who starts off with this film. Time to pick up a copy of the first film, I think.

Extras include a couple of commentary tracks, an entertaining behind-the-scenes featurette and assorted trailers.

DAVID FLINT

BUY IT NOW (UK) DVDBLU-RAY

BUY IT NOW (USA) DVDBLU-RAY

 

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