October Horrorshow: Hatchet II

I judge sequels and remakes a bit more harshly than other films. I cannot help but compare further entries in film series to their predecessors. It would be ideal if I could judge something like Aliens or Jaws 2 on their own merits, but I find that impossible if I have seen the earlier film. The associations in my brain are just too strong to ignore. That’s not a problem today. I have not seen Hatchet, the first of writer/director Adam Green’s ongoing story of murderous freak Victor Crowley, but I did just watch Hatchet II, and now I think it is time…

Ahem!

Ladies and gentlemen, my Loyal Seven readers, I present to you Hatchet II, the official film of the 2014 Missile Test October Horrorshow. This flick represents just about everything I love in a slasher flick. There’s loads of gore and buckets of fake blood; all the killing is done in the woods; in Danielle Harris, it stars a legitimate scream queen; and it looked like it had a budget of about a nickel and a half. Oh, and best of all? It’s 85 minutes long. We love reasonable run times here at Missile Test. There’s nothing more interminable in a film than bloated length, so when I catch a movie that doesn’t hold me prisoner past the start of the eleven o’clock news, I’m thrilled.

Hatchet II, from what I gather in the opening scene, takes place immediately after the ending of the first film. And that’s it — the last time I will mention the first film. Marybeth Dunston (Harris) has escaped the clutches of Victor Crowley (horror icon Kane Hodder), and fled the swamp where he resides for New Orleans. There, she relates the tale of her survival, and the deaths of her family at the hands of Crowley, to the Reverend Zombie (Tony Todd), a local voodoo huckster who runs illegal tours into Crowley’s swamp. There’s about a half hour of exposition and setup before the story gets moving again, but when it does, Marybeth and the good Reverend lead a group of good-for-nothings back into the swamp.

Why they go back is of no consequence for us, out here on the other side of the screen. The point is to put people in front of Victor Crowley. He takes care of the rest.

Hatchet II is a tongue-in-cheek horror flick. It’s not designed to be ominous or oppressive. It’s not even meant to be all that scary. The point of this film is to showcase some of the most gruesome and hilarious horror flick deaths ever put to film. Crowley slices off faces with a hatchet, pulls off some poor fellow’s lower jaw, introduces another victim’s face to a propeller, finds an efficient new use for a very long chainsaw, and defies the laws of physics using a person’s intestines. There’s more, but I really have to recommend a reader seek it out for themselves. A strong stomach isn’t as necessary as one might think, as the violence in this flick is much more Itchy & Scratchy than Saw. And that’s a good thing. Torture porn is the most unfortunate turn horror films have taken in the last decade or so. For a time, it seemed as if the outrageous absurdity of horror had been supplanted by images that were a little too close to what would really happen to a human body subjected to grievous injury.

Realism is a good thing in something like a war film. The best war films don’t glorify the enterprise, and portraying the violence in a realistic manner serves to educate the audience about just how awful war can be. But in horror, there’s no point in realism. Horror is what we watch because we can’t stomach real snuff films. When people debate whether or not humans are inherently good or bad, I think about horror films. If we were truly bad people at heart, we wouldn’t fake all this death for our collective entertainment. We would do it for real.

So, with a film like Hatchet II, we can sit back and watch a belt sander take on a skull, and laugh if we feel like it. It’s bloody good fun.