The slasher film ruled the horror genre from the release of “Halloween” in 1978 until Jason was sent to Hell in 1993. It had a brief resurgence, though, with the self-aware “Scream” trilogy and the films that followed in its wake.
But true 80s-style horror has been the exception, rather than the rule. Enter writer/director Adam Green, who in 2006 completed “Hatchet.” A love letter to that bygone era, it featured the cursed, deformed, and undead Victor Crowley, killing anyone who step foot into his swamp. Crowley was actually a character Green dreamed up as a child, and it took him over 20 years to bring him to the screen.
“Hatchet II” is one of those sequels that begin at the exact moment the previous film ends. Marybeth (a recast Danielle Harris), the lone survivor of a haunted swamp tour gone wrong, is being pulled under water by Crowley (Kane Hodder).
She barely manages to escape, and makes her way back to New Orleans. She is manipulated into returning to the swamp by Reverend Zombie (Tony Todd), who organizes a hunting party to go after Crowley so he can end the curse and exploit the swamp in the name of capitalism. Predictably, things go very, very wrong.
Like the first film, the sequel leans much more towards comedy through dialogue and hilariously gory death scenes. Its those old school, CGI-free “kills” that got the film an NC-17 from the MPAA, but Dark Sky Films is releasing it unrated to theaters that are willing to play it. Considering how cartoonish that level of gore is meant to be, its really hard to believe anyone anywhere would ever take it seriously.
Green very much made this film a love letter to horror films and horror fans. It probably has more horror industry veterans and horror film allusions than any other film ever made. It’s like they took all the guests from a horror convention out to the swamp and made a movie with them.
How often do you see a former Leatherface square off against a former Jason Voorhees? It also serves as a collection of slasher cliches as well. There’s the “I think we should split up” scene, the sex scene with gratuitous nudity that is interrupted by the killer, and many others.
Unfortunately, “Hatchet II” offers little that might appeal to people who aren’t already predisposed to like it. It’s biggest weakness is its clunky, repetitive exposition. It completely grinds the the film to a halt and seems to serve no purpose but to pad the length, which still squeaks by at about 80 minutes. But I don’t think it necessarily needed to be any longer. As is, it feels pretty brisk and it definitely keeps things feeling fun above all else.
It may not be Green’s best film, but it’s definitely one that fans of horror as a genre and 80s slasher films in particular will enjoy.