which made its long-awaited debut on December 18 in the de rigueur �unrated� form on DVD, is a valentine for horror fans who grew up on the shenanigans of Leatherface, Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, and Fred Kruger. Adam Green, a self-professed horror fanatic since he was a toddler, wrote and directed the film and it is 83 minutes of fun and mayhem, boasting some of the most original offings we�ve seen in years.
The premise is anything but new: a lunatic in the woods preying on unwitting trespassers is nothing if not formulaic by now, but what is new is the nice little backstory that Green actually concocted when he was a tot while trying to scare some friends around a campfire! Victor Crowley, played by Green�s girlfriend(!), is a deformed young boy who lives with his father in the woods. One night, a few children try to scare Victor by throwing firecrackers on his roof and a fire begins. Within minutes, the house is engulfed and Victor�s father (briefly but well-played by Kane Hodder) tries desperately to chop the door down with an axe, not knowing that his son is behind the door. You know what happens next, and Mr. Crowley eventually dies of a broken heart believing that he killed his son. Of course, Victor is still alive and in those woods near the house.
Years later a man and his son, Robert Englund and Joshua (�Tell me where you are, Josh!!!�) Leonard respectively, are fishing in a swamp and are brutally murdered by something in the woods. Later, a guy named Marcus (Deon Richmond) and a few of his friends are trying to help their main man Ben (Joel David Moore) forget about his ex-girlfriend by introducing him to the sights of Mardis-Gras. Depressed and confused, Ben pulls Marcus away from the Bourbon Street Experience and cons him into taking a tour of a nearby swamp which is emceed by a poor-man�s Count Floyd (Parry Shen). Among those on the trip are an aloof young woman (Tamara Feldman), a middle-aged couple (Richard Riehle and Patrika Darbo), a slimy softcore video producer (Joel Murray) and his girls gone wild (Mercedes McNab and Joleigh Fioreavanti). They all venture into the swamp with their host who makes ludicrous jokes about Victor Crowley; before long it becomes painfully obvious that he�s never done this tour before and is just in it for the money. They all end up pay for it in a big way when they encounter and subsequently run away from the very much alive Victor Crowley himself. Those who loved Joe Lynch�s recent WRONG TURN 2: DEAD END
will enjoy HATCHET as Crowley dispatches with just about everyone in new and interesting ways, leaving the door open for HATCHET 2.
What makes this disc so much fun to watch is the extensive behind-the-scenes footage and interviews, especially witnessing Green�s gregarious nature and utter passion to make the film in the first place. He manages to secure the casting of Robert Englund, Kane Hodder, and Tony Todd, with make-up by John Carl Buechler. Along with the almost expected commentary with Green and several cast members, the extras include scenes from his first short film, COLUMBUS DAY WEEKEND, which is about Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers stalking the same camp over the same weekend and getting queer for each other! He followed this up with COFFEE AND DONUTS, a film he made with equipment he used from his job at, in his words, �a shitty local cable company.�
What was most inspiring to hear was how Adam idolized Dee Snider of Twisted Sister since he was very young. As a result of writing a heart-felt letter to Snider, he not only managed to meet him but they have since become very close friends, especially after Snider�s fallout from Twisted Sister and subsequent fall on hard times. They both have a positive attitude to keep going.
There are some great behind-the-scenes extras like the practical joke that was played on Mercedes McNab; Adam�s fortitude to make the film; shooting the Mardis-Gras scene in New Orleans literally weeks before Hurricane Katrina literally wiped it off the map.
All in all, really fun stuff, and definitely a DVD worth owning.
- Jonathan Stryker