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TriBeCa Film Festival 2006, Day 2: Hatchet
Posted on 04.29.06 by Pete @ 2:42 pm

Tribeca Film Festival 2006

World Premier 2006, USA, 82 min.
Country and Year: USA (2006)
Director/Writer: Adam Green
Starring: Joel David Moore, Tamara Feldman, Deon Richmond, Kane Hodder, Parry Shen, Mercedes Mcnab

Reviewed by: Peter C. Bowen
Rating 3 of 4 stars (Good)

Hatchet Tribeca Film Festival 2006

Hatchet is director Adam Green’s homage to the slasher movies of the early 1980s. The tagline is Old School American Horror and the movie lives up to this statement in spades even to the point of not using any digital effects. The gore is all lovingly handmade. Green is no poseur. He’s got a true love and appreciation for horror/gore movies going back to his childhood. Green was at the World Premier of his film at the TriBeCa festival and told the enthusiastic crowd how he came up with the basic story for Hatchet as a youngster at summer camp. Apparently the counselors were telling the kids that “Hatchet Face” would get them if they didn’t behave. Green’s reaction was, “Cool, what’s he going to do to me?” at which point the counselors told him to shut up. Later when the kids were back in their cabins young Adam came up with the story of Victor Crowly to fill in the blanks left by the camp counselors.

Our story begins with Ben (Joel David Moore) and Marcus (Deon Richmond, Kenny on The Cosby Show) at Mardi Gras with a group of buddies taking in the sites, including a multitude of bare breasts. The guys are in New Orleans to party and help Ben get over a bad breakup with his long-time girlfriend. Ben is a total wet blanket and cannot seem to enjoy the festivities so he decides to go on a haunted swamp tour. Marcus is totally against it since there are many single girls in town and probably zero girls out in the swamp but he goes along with Ben because he doesn’t want to bail on him.

Hatchet Tribeca Film Festival 2006

After one aborted attempt to join a swamp tour in which Tony Todd (Candyman) gives an inspired cameo, Marcus and Ben join up with a swamp tour along with the group from David Lee Roth’s California Girls video. Along with Ben and Marcus we’ve got all the essential slasher fodder on this boat. There are the two bimbos who repeatedly flash their breasts to the camera of Doug Shapiro, the soft-core producer, as well as a Midwestern square tourist couple. Rounding out the group is Marybeth, the enigmatic and beautiful local that knows the legends better than the “Uncle Remus meets Bruce Lee” tour guide played by Perry Shen.

As one would expect the tour does not go as planned and as the incompetent tour guide runs the boat aground we learn the story of Hatchet Face. Unfortunately for the group their boat has sunk right by the shack of Victor Crowly. Marybeth informs us that Victor was a badly deformed child that lived out in the swamp with his doting father. As is always the case the few times they would come into town the kids would torment young Victor mercilessly. On one fateful Halloween night, a group of teenagers went out to the Crowly home and tried get a glimpse of the freak of the swamp. The teens tried to smoke Victor out with firecrackers but accidentally set the house on fire. Victor was trapped inside banging on the door calling out for his father. When Mr. Crowly came back the house was totally in flames. He grabbed a hatchet and began hacking at the door in order to break Victor out. Unfortunately Victor was leaning his face up to the door to call for his father and one of the hatchet blows smashed through the door and into Victor’s face killing him. A few years later Mr. Crowley died of a broken heart. However, the legend says that Victor did not die, and that on dark nights one can hear him calling for his father out in the swamp.

Hatchet Tribeca Film Festival 2006

Needless to say, the legend is true and all hell breaks loose once the tour group lands in Hatchet Face’s territory. Hatchet doesn’t cover any new ground as far as the horror genre goes, so I won’t go into how the victims fall into the hands of Hatchet Face. Suffice it to say that Green does not hold back at all when it comes to the death scenes. There is real creativity in the ways that Victor dispatches his victims. Heads, arms and legs are lost in gruesomely fun ways. The crowd erupted into hoots and yells of laughter every time a character was done in which added to the all out fun of this movie.

Hatchet stands out from the current glut of horror movies in that it is an original story and it manages to keep a sense of humor that is totally natural, showing no trace of the disdain towards its genre we see in the likes of the Scary Movie series. This film is a bit of a spoof of the horror genre, but it comes from a spirit of true love for the films.

Hatchet Tribeca Film Festival 2006

While introducing his film, Adam Green told a great story of his childhood that illustrates the spirit of love around this movie. As a young kid, Adam received a Twister Sister tape and promptly became obsessed with the band. Dee Snyder was his hero. He even wrote an elementary school essay on why Dee was his hero. Adam was somehow able to meet Snyder at a concert and gave him a letter. Dee being the nice guy that he is actually wrote back to young Adam and encouraged him to follow his dreams. This inspired Green to make a movie about Jason falling in love with Michael Myers. On the strength of this film, Green was invited to L.A. to meet with a studio and was promptly ignored and told to go away. Adam was devastated but as luck would have it Dee Snyder was in town and signing autographs. Green bluffed his way up to speak to Mr. Snyder, and Dee actually remembered him and told him not to let this set back get him down. Thus encouraged and inspired by his hero again Green went on to “borrow” film equipment from his job and shot Coffee and Donuts with $400 and friends working for free. On the strength of this film he was signed up with a manager and was enabled to shoot Hatchet. As further proof of the love fest going on in the theater, Dee Snyder actually attended the premiere as a guest of Adam Green.

The principal cast also attended the screening and the camaraderie they share was obvious. One can easily tell that this group of people genuinely like each other and have fun together. That chemistry definitely translates onto the screen. Deon Richmond stands out at the most charismatic member of the cast but every member of the ill-fated tour is funny and in top form. Probably the biggest coup of the casting was the legendary Kane Hodder from the Friday the 13th series. He’s such a total pro as Hatchet Face and Mr. Crowley. As it turns out the cast never saw him in make-up until the actual shooting and Hodder went the extra mile to get real fear out of the rest of the cast. According to Richmond and Moore, it was just the girls that were genuinely terrified while filming, but we can forgive them if they fibbed just a bit.

Hatchet Tribeca Film Festival 2006

Overall, Hatchet is 100% fun. I highly recommend it to all fans of horror movies. The humor is not forced and the cast deliver it flawlessly. I’ve rated it at 3 out of 4, but it is a high three. I don’t have any reservations about the film other than it is not breaking new ground as far as horror movie plotting. However, Hatchet Face gets tons of screen time, so as a fan of monster movies I found this very satisfying. Also the film plays it straight but does not take itself too seriously. At one point Hatchet Face breaks out a belt sander. Adam Green explained that he was going to cut this out because it made no sense. Where is he going to plug it in? But the production designer and crew fought to keep it in by convincing Green that if they could build a gas powered model it would mean they could exist. So Green had to agree to use it when the P.D. showed up with a working model. This type of approach translates into a purely fun movie.

Related Links:
::: Official Site
::: Tribeca Film Festival Site

::: Discuss this with others in the Movie Lounge Forum


Filed under: Movie Reviews and Movie Reviews: USA and Contributors: Pete and Rating: Good ★★★ and Film Festivals: News and Film Festivals: Tribeca Film Festival 2006
Comments:

19 Comments »

  1. Fantastic premiere! I attended the film and it was genuinely entertaining! Green’s passion was obvious, the casting was superb and the chemistry was indeed obvious! Go see this movie!!!

    Comment by scott — May 1, 2006 @ 5:59 am


  2. I’m going to have to strongly disagree with the reviews here. I was at the same screening and Hatchet is awful. It’s a complete rip off (not homage) to Friday the 13th, Madman, Eaten Alive, etc. (all much better films)The killer is a guy in a bad rubber suit and the FX are lacking (still very gory though)There is not an origanal thought or idea in the film. The film also commits the cardinal sin for a low budget horror flick….nothing happen for the first 45 minutes.

    I really tried to give the film and filmmaker the benefit of the doubt, but just could like it no matter how I tried. A rental at best

    Comment by Joe Moe — May 1, 2006 @ 10:58 am


  3. Joe Moe,

    I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy Hatchet as much as I did. It’s true that there isn’t any originality going on which is why I couldn’t give it a higher rating. As for the non-action of the first 45 minutes I may have been distracted by all the naked boobs. It may be a cheap trick but as we all know, “Nudity is the cheapest special effect.”

    As for the gore I liked the the low-fi approach. I’m sick of the over use of CGI. Overall one just cannot take this movie too seriously or it’ll ruin all the fun.

    Anyway you make valid points, all of what you’ve said is true. Those things just didn’t bother me. Thanks for your opinion though the balance you’ve brought to us is a good thing and I really do appreciate it.

    Pete

    Comment by Pete — May 1, 2006 @ 1:07 pm


  4. You clearly didn’t see the same movie the rest of us did, Joe Moe. This movie took the tired basics of old slashers and brought it to new levels by actually having a good script, good acting, and a director who really cared. You can’t dare say Friday the 13th or Eaten Alive were half as good as Hatchet. [some fans] keep saying “the old stuff can’t be beat.” Guess what? It can be beat and it was on Thursday night with HATCHET. Tell me what was GOOD about the dialogue in Eaten Alive? Hatchet’s deaths wiped the floor with Friday the 13th’s and Victor Crowley was way scarier than Jason ever was. I agree with this review 100%. [edited]. Makes one wonder. I loved Hatchet.

    [Edited by admin to remove personal comments directed at other posters. Keep it friendly, gang.]

    Comment by Stacia — May 2, 2006 @ 6:58 pm


  5. Nothing happens for the first 45 minutes? If I recall there was an alligator attack, 2 dismemberments, and more boobs than every 90’s horror movie put together in the first 10 minutes. Not to mention all of the comedy that happened before the people started getting killed. This was one of the best slashers I’ve ever seen. Period.

    Comment by AlexM — May 3, 2006 @ 10:14 pm


  6. Kudos on a perfect review Peter! The tagline was “Old school American Horror” and that’s exactly what it was. The old lady getting her face ripped in half and the power sander were superior to any gore I’ve seen and I thought Victor Crowley was amazing. I saw it Sunday and my friends and I are going again on Saturday night. Now let’s just hope the filmmakers don’t beat it to death and make 15 of them cause you know it’s gonna happen.

    Comment by Chuck — May 3, 2006 @ 10:43 pm


  7. You guys can disagree, but most reviews I have read are pretty close to mine. Fangoria.com’s review is perfect.

    I’ve seen this movie a hundred times before and didn’t need to again. I’m glad you guys liked it, I didn’t.

    Ps…AlexM wrote:

    >>>Nothing happens for the first 45 minutes? If I recall there was an alligator attack, 2 dismemberments, and more boobs than every 90’s horror movie put together in the first 10 minutes

    That was all in the first 3 minuets and both kills were off screen. The first real kill doesn’t happen for another 45 mins.

    As for the boobs: It’s just girls at Mardi Gras lifting their shirts. If I wanted to see that crap I’d buy one of those “girls gone wild” videos.

    I’m sure everyone involved worked very hard on the film and they had the best intentions, but the film just didn’t cut for me. When it goes straight to video, the rest of you can decide.

    Comment by Joe Moe — May 4, 2006 @ 1:10 pm


  8. Just saw it tonight at Tribeca. Best horror film in years. Haven’t seen an audience get that into a movie since I dont know when. A +++

    Comment by Martinez88 — May 5, 2006 @ 1:57 am


  9. OMG! Move over Jason, Freddy, and Michael! Caught the 10:30 at 34th street tonight. I have never enjoyed a slasher film more. To say this is an instant classic is an understatement. This was “Evil Dead” good. Balls out gore. We went from laughing to screaming. I agree, prepare to see this movie stained by a dozen sequels. I look forward to seeing how they top these kills. Still fired up over the power grinder. Sick!!!!

    Comment by gorehound — May 5, 2006 @ 2:05 am


  10. Joe Moe, it’s unfortunate that you didn’t see this movie for what it is, a true to the genre, instant classic, no cgi, slasher film with good dialogue, amazing kills, a very likeable cast. I just don’t understand how you can say this is not an original idea. It is true to form for the old school genre, just as it is billed. When have you EVER seen a kill where a persons head is ripped in half like a flip-top lid?! [edited] I can’t wait to see what’s up Green’s sleeve next. Cheers.

    Comment by BigPapi — May 5, 2006 @ 5:46 am


  11. Now I get it……all these “best horror flick of all time” posts must be from the filmmakers because while some of the crowd I saw it with seemed to like it, no one was screaming or
    laughing out loud. LOL

    Comment by Joe Moe — May 5, 2006 @ 1:55 pm


  12. I am in film school but I didn’t make the movie. The crowd I saw it with on Thursday was loud as hell. I think you made your opinion very clear and you have every right to, but why are you so against this movie that you argue with those that have posted positive responses? There’s a few movies I saw at this year’s festival that I didn’t like- but I don’t use my time to write in about those ones. Don’t suppose you’re a competitive filmmaker by any chance? LOL.

    Comment by gorehound — May 5, 2006 @ 11:29 pm


  13. Nice try, but go over the posts, I got ripped from people here because I didn’t like it. This is why this continues, but now I’m convinced that at least a few are from the filmmakers.

    I can name at least three films in the last few years that are MUCH better examples of “old school horror” starting with “The Devil’s Rejects”. Hatched isn’t good….period.

    Now…I’m done posting here.

    Comment by Joe Moe — May 6, 2006 @ 9:51 am


  14. Joe Moe,

    I hope you will continue to post your comments on our site. I disagree with your opinion on Hatchet but if we all agreed on everything there’d be no point to having these discussions in the first place.

    Having said that, our site has absolutely no affililation with Hatchet or Adam Green or any member of the cast or crew. I’ve never spoken to anybody affiliated with the movie.

    Devil’s Rejects is pretty great even though I was a bit disappointed with it. Rob Zombie has a great asthetic. But just because his movie is good doesn’t mean Hatchet can’t be good.

    Hatchet is a comedy. It’s apples and oranges. The comedy along with the gore is what people are responding to I think. The screening I attended was definately raucous. Every kill got lot’s of yells and laughs. I think having comedy mixed in with your horror just rubs some people the wrong way but lot’s of us love it. That doesn’t make the film bad. Hatchet is not the best horror movie of all time but it is very successful in doing what it set out to do. I think maybe you’re criticizing the movie for what it is not instead of what it is.

    Again we will not allow comments attacking indiviual posters to stay up. We all need to play nice. Joe Moe has legitimate points and every right to make them. We all need to play nice. It’s about the movies not throwing trash at each other.

    Peter C Bowen

    Comment by Pete — May 6, 2006 @ 10:45 am


  15. Two thumbs up! I’m not usually a horror movie type of girl, but this reminded me of the stuff I grew up on only with more *intentional* comedy in it, which was refreshing after the recent bout of torture films that my boyfriend keeps buying. I’m glad he dragged me to this. :) xo

    Comment by AngelEyes — May 6, 2006 @ 2:13 pm


  16. Peter,

    Thanks for backing me up on that. If I offend anyone, that was not my intention. I respect anyone’s valid opinion of why they enjoyed it. I just couldn’t no matter how I tried.

    >>>Hatchet is a comedy.

    Comment by Joe Moe — May 6, 2006 @ 2:51 pm


  17. If so, I can say it play much better as a straight up horror film then a comedy. (there is something positive!)
    Actually, I think it is the script that really killed the film for me and the group I saw it with. The acting isn’t that bad, the directions competent, but it’s not a funny or scary film.

    ps..why do the posts here get broken up?

    Comment by Joe Moe — May 7, 2006 @ 12:36 pm


  18. Hey Peter- great review. Here’s another one from Ain’t It Cool News. Sounds like they liked it just as much as you did. I think that’s cool!
    http://www.aintitcool.com/display.cgi?id=23250

    Comment by christopher — May 9, 2006 @ 4:02 pm


  19. Just a thought from a horror fan old enough to be most of you guys’ father … even, to stretch it a bit, grandfather (aaargh) … oh, hell, let’s just say I’m more of a contemporary of Mr Englund than of Mr Green. So the point is … horror has always had, and always will have, a special place in the hearts and souls of gay people. James Whale, with Bride of Frankenstein and Old Dark House, was an obvious exmaple but it’s more to the pint to mention the gay audience, rather than creators. Gay boys (I can’t speak for Lesbians) grow up feeling “different” - without quite knowing why; that comes later. We also learn to be alert to very subtle clues amongst our straight friends, buddies, families and teachers, clues that let us know if our “difference” is in safe hands or if we need to protect ourselves … that’s why seeing macho jocks in a movie (be it slasher or gross-out comedy or action pic) yelling “faggot” as a term of contempt assaults a gay man in the audience in ways that the majority of the (straight) audience can’t imagine. (Although in my experience, most smart moviegoers of any age are really thoughtful about this when I point it our to them). What’s this got to do with Hatchet ? Well, being “outside” mainstream society in many ways, gay guys (and we’re a much bigger % of the audience than you might think) LOVE horror. We are the outsider. We are Frankenstein’s monster, we are the Blood Beast, we are Jason we are leatherface we are Victor Crowley … and we’re the monster’s victims. And we’re the plucky hero(ines) as well, We really, seriously, intensely IDENTIFY with the mayhem and emotional chaos that is the best of horror. So … why does it not occur to Mr Green (or Mr Zombie or Mr Hooper or Mr Roth …), that gay guys in the audience are not interested in boobs boobs and more boobs. We LOVE that you straight guys are getting off on the T&A count, that’s just terrific. But what about some sweaty abs or straining pecs fpr the gay boys ? Or (go on, be daring) some guy-booty gyrating at the camera … hatchet is set in Louisiana ???! Oh, come ON! Mardi Gras is one of the Gayest Festivals of the Year … in ANY state ! The point is, why do Mr Green (and Roth and Wan etc etc etc)assume the whole moviegoing world is hetero ? It isn’t. Nor is life. This is NOTHING repeat nothing to do with that thing called “political correctness”. It’s just about being a smart businessman. Gays are at least 10% of a movie’s audience. You straight guys can cheer the boobs and ass while we gay guys yawn and wait impatiently for the next beheading. Then you straight guys can yawn and groan at the sexy male T&A and wait impatiently for the next beheading. Then WHEN the next beheading sprays across the screen, we can all cheer, we can all applaud, and we can all sit in the happy knowledge that we all love horror. Even if the world is full of different reasons for loving it.

    Comment by Iain Hammer — August 26, 2007 @ 4:01 am


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