Exploitation Retrospect | The Journal of Junk Culture and Fringe Media
Hatchet: Unrated Director's Cut (2007)
Anchor Bay Home Video | Review by Louis Fowler

I just got off the phone with my brother, who rented HATCHET, upon my recommendation. He finished it about an hour ago, and his review…

“Retarded”. Ahem.

I honestly expect my brother to cream his shorts over a flick like this. It’s one of the best horror movies of the past year, and as a fan of GRINDHOUSE (well, PLANET TERROR), it should be on the "best of" lists of any self-respecting genre fan, let alone my bro. So I told him, “Dude, you need to watch it again. Maybe another time after that. Watch it in the mind frame of something you’d love to catch on late-night Cinemax, circa 1988. Watch it as though that whole, SCREAM-era, self-referential, post-ironic BS had never happened. Imagine it was released by the good peeps over at Vestron or Media. Imagine watching it as a gore-hound thirteen-year-old hell bent on finding the next Freddy or Jason shocker to give you nightmares and, best of all, give your parents a reason to ban horror films from your house for the next few weeks! Do it, dammit!”

OK, I didn’t say all that, but I did tell him to give it another try. Because, to be fair, HATCHET is anything but “retarded”. It’s ret-awesome!

Subtitled “Old School American Horror”, HATCHET is an immensely fun throwback to the 80s hack’n’slash era of horror where (semi) good-looking, idiotic teenagers are torn to pieces (quite literally) by an overly-powerful, near mythological monster figure that has no sense of right or wrong. In this case, it’s the deformed, retarded man-beast Victor Crowley (played by Jason Voorhees himself, Kane Hodder). Understandably, Victor doesn’t want anyone intruding on his New Orleans bayou home, so when a tour group does just that, he goes balls-out nutso. With his incredible strength and total unwillingness to be killed, Vic plows through our hapless tourists, in the most beautifully graphic ways possible, thanks to effects by John Carl Buechler.

If you’re a fan of these movies, even though you know the score and you know what’s going to happen, getting there is the real fun. The terror is mixed with enough comedy to take the edge off while never diluting it. Newcomer Adam Green looks like he’s going to be a horror force to be reckoned with, a real horror geek who knows his stuff.

This is documented, quite ritualistically, in the special features which include the requisite commentaries, making of docs and make up and special effects docs, but the center-piece has to be the great, wholly charming piece about Green meeting his idol, Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider and how they became lifelong buddies. It’s oddly touching and incredibly refreshing to see that Snider isn’t a pretentious prick who dusted off Green when he was a nobody. It kind of makes me want to go out and buy a Twisted Sister album. (Note: after writing this, I actually bought Twisted Sister’s Xmas album. Because nothing says “birth of Christ” like hair metal!!!))

Although I’m sure this tagline has been used by other critics, there’s no way around it: HATCHET is definitely a cut above the rest. And if you disagree, well, sorry, but you’re the real retard.

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