‘Hatchet II’ offers up more gore than glory, which may not be a bad thing

For those in the know in the horror community, the name Adam Green carries some weight. True, he’s only done a few feature length films since getting his start in 2000, but among them is last year’s Hatchet II. For those who missed Hatchet… well, I have nothing more to say than catch up because Hatchet II is just the type of throw-away splatter entertainment that has been sorely lacking in the past few years.

Hatchet II picks up right where 2006’s Hatchet left off. With equal parts quick thinking and equal parts shoddy writing as an homage to the slashers of yore, in no time at all Marybeth, played by horror veteran Danielle Harris this time around, is back in the bayou trying to escape the clutches of Victor Crowley. Say what you will about the story or the dialogue, but you’re a fool if you’re watching this movie for either of those reasons. At times Hatchet II borders on parody but it carries with it an unparalleled respect for the horror filmmakers and the iconic villains that populated the splatter favorites of the 1980s. That much is clear at the very first sight of Victor Crowley.

For a little bit of history, Victor Crowley is played by Kane Hodder, the legend whose overbearing physicality and menacing eyes that made Jason Voorhees so memorable. He’s back in fine form this time around. While Crowley’s back story is a bit scattered and whether he’s man or monster is never entirely clear, Hodder brings the same intensity to the character. He’s not afforded many lines so it becomes necessary for his anger and torment to be expressed physically. While it sounds like an unusual thing to say, Hodder proves that it is truly a misunderstood art form to bring a character’s anguish to life with only the use of your body and stunted body language.

However, Kane Hodder isn’t the only menace of the film from childhood nightmares. Tony Todd’s turn as Reverend Zombie is both comical and devilish. Fans of the first will recognize the return of Reverend Zombie as a vast improvement over the first, which featured Todd for several minutes at best. Furthermore, it’s interesting to have a villain aside from Crowley, someone who’s clearly flesh and blood. Reverend Zombie serves as a fun antagonist to both Crowley and Marybeth. That’s probably the easiest way to describe Tony Todd’s approach to the role. The character is never too serious so it seems difficult to bring any real weight to Zombie, but he never seems to try. Instead, he seems to relish a return to his roots. It’s been too long since we’ve seen him get the role he deserved and Hatchet II might just be that role.

But Hatchet II is more than just a chance to showcase Green’s nostalgia for 1980s horror. It’s certainly not much more than that, as the story indicates, but that’s fine because the film finds a way to entertain another way. Hatchet II main claim to fame is its body count, which is supposedly the highest number of on-screen kills in any slasher film to date. For fans of gore, that’s a bold claim, but whether it’s true or not, it certainly delivers when it comes to its kill scenes. They range from inventive to lavishly ludicrous and everywhere in between, but that shouldn’t be mistaken as a bad thing.

In the end what sells Hatchet II more than anything else isn’t its story or its acting. Its the sheer joy of it. It’s clear that the film is a labor of love for director Adam Green and a majority of the cast. That passion for slashers and violence is what makes Hatchet II such an engaging piece of entertainment. It never takes itself too seriously and instead, it seems to treat fans of the sub-genre as kindred spirits to Adam Green, who’s unquestionable fanboy status makes him such a unique voice in the future of slasher cinema.

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