Hatchet II Blu-ray Review
Written by Steve Pattee
Blu-ray released by Dark Sky Films
Directed by Adam Green
2010, Region A (NTSC), 86 minutes, Unrated
Blu-ray released on February 1st, 2011
Danielle Harris as Marybeth
Tony Todd as Reverend Zombie
Kane Hodder as Victor Crowley
When Hatchet hit the scene in 2006, I was excited to see as most horror fans were because word on the street was it was a return to old school horror. The movie's hype was huge and I had high hopes for it. However, my expectations were crushed magnificently when I actually saw it. Disappointment does not even cover my initial reaction to Hatchet. Even if it was supposedly a nod to horror films of the '80s, it brought nothing new to the table. Plus it didn't help that the movie's main character, Ben, was an unlikable douchebag who spent the majority of the movie pining over his ex-girlfriend like a whiny bitchbaby. And the fact that Hatchet's success overshadowed the far superior Behind the Mask: The Rise and Fall of Leslie Vernon (of the same year) added to my disgust. Yes, I pretty much detested Hatchet.
Over time, I heard from various friends to give it another chance - suggestions came from people who disliked the Hatchet the first time around, too. So when Hatchet II hit my door, I figured there was no better time to give Hatchet another chance than right before I watched its sequel. (Plus it didn't hurt that I had recently watched, and really liked, writer / director Adam Green's Frozen.) I have to admit, I didn't hate it as much as I did as the first viewing. It still doesn't deserve the hype surrounding it half a decade ago, but it certainly wasn't as awful as I remembered. In addition, I even got a little excited to see this sequel (of course the stellar cast has something to do with my eagerness).
Hatchet II takes place immediately after its predecessor. Marybeth (now played by Danielle Harris) is battling Victor Crowley (still played by Kane Hodder) in the boat, where in the original it looked as if she drowned, here she manages to escape. It's somewhat of a cheat, but forgivable because we've seen it all before. After she gets away from the killer, and is kicked out of Jack Cracker's cabin for bringing trouble to it, Marybeth makes her way back to town where she confronts Reverend Zombie (Tony Todd).
Zombie immediately calls together a hunting party, not just to recover his missing boat, but also take care of this Crowley problem once and for all. It really does hurt your business when you have a maniac prowling the woods. Plus the good Reverend has some shady reasons of his own to get back into the swamp. As it goes, things certainly don't go as planned for anyone (except maybe Victor Crowley).
Hatchet II is a lot of fun. The film is nothing more than getting from kill to kill with the in-between time filled with either boobs or jokes. The first film was criticized for its relatively low number of kills. Green ramps up the deaths here with almost triple the body count. Where Hatchet had seven kills, Hatchet II scoffs at its older brother and delivers a whopping 17 slaughters. We get everything ranging from a head being introduced to a boat propeller, to a double death with one super-sized chainsaw reminiscent of Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3 (which is no doubt a nod to R.A. Mihailoff who stars here as Trent and was Leatherface in TCM 3).
Green also packs the film with cameos and self-referential nods to the genre. In addition to the cast mentioned, Tom Holland (Child's Play, Fright Night) stars as Marybeth's protective Uncle and there are cameos scattered throughout the film, such as Troma founder Lloyd Kaufman. The nods are plenty, but the one that should be mentioned is the one for Behind the Mask. During the meeting that Reverend Zombie calls for the gathering of arms, people are discussing urban legends and one refers to Lesley Vernon in Glen Echo. I not only give Green props for that, but I have a new-found respect for him.
One thing that is noticeably bothersome is the Marybeth character. In the first film she was played by Tamara Feldmen and Marybeth was a strong young woman with very little time for bullshit. However, this time around Danielle Harris portrays Marybeth and the character is almost a 180 from Hatchet. Instead of being a non-nonsense person, she's been relegated to a crying machine. Yeah, okay, she survived a horrible event, sure. But it's not like she really knew any of the people that were slaughtered the first time around. The emotions on display are night and day between the first and second films. I don't blame this on either actress as both are more than capable to do the required role (you can't tell me Harris can't play a strong character, because she definitely can). It's a jarring transition of character actions, especially if you watch the films back-to-back.
Hatchet II is far from a perfect movie. Like the first, there's nothing incredibly special about it, nor does it bring anything new to the genre (except maybe another attempt to incorporate Victor Crowley into the realm of legends such as Jason and Freddy). However, there is crazy amount of gore and grue thrown about, humorous jokes and one liners mixed in, and it's a fast moving film clocking in at 86 minutes, leaving very little room for fat. Sure, the Crowley legend is retold (as it's a dramatically different from the first movie), but it's an enjoyable slasher that was screwed from a proper theatrical release. If you loved Hatchet, you'll certainly dig Hatchet II. And, hell, if you disliked the first, give this one a shot anyway. If you're like me, you will enjoy it more.
Video and Audio:
Instead shooting on film like the first movie, Hatchet II went digital this time around, and was shot using the Red camera. The movie hardly suffers because the 1:78:1 presentation has a very film-like quality to it. Colors are natural and the blacks are suitably deep (which is crucial, considering most of the film takes place in a swamp at night).
The DTS-HD Master Audio sounds fantastic. There is heavy use of the subwoofer and surrounds, all the while maintaining a healthy balance, with the effects and score never overtaking the dialogue.
English SDH and Spanish subtitles are available.
- Hatchet II: Behind the Screams
- Hatchet II: First Look
- Meet the FX Team
- TV Spot
- Radio Spot
- Production Audio Commentary Track Featuring Writer/Directer Adam Green, Cinematographer Will Barratt, and Make-Up Effects Supervisor Robert Pendergraft
- Cast Audio Commentary Track Featuring Writer/Directer Adam Green and Actors Kane Hodder and Tony Todd
Hatchet II offers up two commentaries, an director/actor one with Adam Green and stars Tony Todd and Kane Hodder and a technical commentary with Green again, but this time joining him is Will Barratt (cinematographer) and Robert Pendergraft (make-up effects supervisor). Both tracks are interesting, with very little overlap. Green mentions in the director/actor commentary that he made a concerted effort not to double up on discussions between commentaries, and he succeeds. There are a few lulls in the cast discussion, but both Tony Todd and Kane Hodder do a great job prodding Green with questions when those arose. Between the two, the technical commentary is more interesting, as it really goes into the making of the film, from locations to problems that arose. However, in the cast commentary, Green does address some of the controversy surrounding Hatchet II, including why a boom operator left very early on in the filming and why the movie never got a bigger theatrical release.
The featurette Hatchet II: Behind the Screams runs about 35 minutes and consists mainly of interviews intermixed with behind-the-scenes footage. This is standard stuff, but should be watched if only for the problem with Danielle Harris' tattoo.
The Killing Machine featurette is a six minute piece on the FX team. Its short running time makes you want for more, and it's a shame that the team wasn't given more exposure on the features, considering how much work they did for the movie.
The rest of features are fluff, including a few trailers, TV spots and an electronic press kit that clocks in at about eight minutes.