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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Hatchet II

February 18th, 2011

Hatchet II - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray

Hatchet came out in 2007 and while it never found an audience in limited release (very few horror films do) it made enough money on the home market that a sequel was made. Hatchet II did only slightly better at the box office, but does it have what it takes to thrive on the home market?

The Movie

The film starts where the last one ended, literally. You have a couple studio logos and less than 30 seconds after you press play you are into the movie starting with a continuation of the jump scare that ended the first film. For those that don't remember, the first film took place on a tour of the Louisiana bayou that was haunted by Victor Crowley. Victor was a deformed child, who was tormented by the other kids. One day one of their pranks turned deadly and Victor was killed in a fire. Ever since then, he's killed anyone who entered his swamp. At least that's the legend. In the last film the crowd of tourists found out that legend was true and one-by-one they were brutally killed. Mostly.

Thanks to some quick thinking, and a thumb in the eye, Marybeth manages to escape Victor's attack and swims till she is rescued by night fisher. At first he seems more than willing to help her get to safety and to a hospital, but once he finds out who she is, more importantly, what her last name is, he throws her out. Tells her to find Rev. Zombie if she wants to know what her father did and who Victor is.

When she returns to New Orleans, she seeks out Rev. Zombie, who recaps the Legend of Victor Crowley, the curse under which he was born, and how he died. He also agrees to get together a hunting party to back into the swamp to recover the bodies of Marybeth's father and brother and to kill the ghost of Victor once and for all. Granted, most of the hunting party are clueless morons who have zero idea what they are getting themselves into, but Rev. Zombie has a plan.

No, I'm not going to tell you what that plan is or how it works out, but you can probably guess it ends with a lot of people dying. Most of them deserve to die. Okay, that's not entirely fair and there are a few characters that are more fleshed out than "Victim #1" through "Victim #13". I haven't actually done the math, so I'm not sure if there are 13 victims or not. Now that I think about it, 13 might be underselling the movie. It is loaded with kills, most of which come fast and furious. Some of these come in a montage form when Rev. Zombie tells the Legend of Victor Crowley, but for the most part writer / director Adam Green spends a great deal of time on these kills and Gorehounds should love the movie. More importantly, there's hardly a sadistic moment in the movie. Sure the kills can go over-the-top and I'm quite sure there's not as much blood in the human body as this movie would have you believe, but there's almost a playfulness here.

On the other hand, outside of the kill zones, the movie can drag a bit. Fortunately, there's more than enough action in the end to make up for the slow parts. But be warned, this movie truly earns its Unrated label, unlike so many other films.

The Extras

Like with the first film, there are gobs of extras here, starting with two audio commentary tracks. The first is with the writer / director Adam Green and Kane Hodder and Tony Todd, who provide an excellent mix of information and entertainment. The second track is referred to a "Technical Track" and has more technical details, but it's still high energy. More importantly, both are worth listening to. By the way, the audio commentary tracks are hidden under the setup menu and not the bonus features menu, which is a pet peeve of mine. The rest of the extras are three making of featurettes. The first is a very meaty 34-minute featurette called Behind the Screams, which is absolutely worth checking out. The shorter EPK is more promotional fluff. Finally, there's The Killing Machine which deals with the special effects needed for the kills. (There are also trailers, TV spots, etc., but I generally don't consider ads to be special features.)

The video is good, especially considering the budget. Since it only cost $3 million to make, you can't expect the the same video quality as a blockbuster release, but the video is solid with good details, strong blacks, etc. Some scenes are a little soft while others have too much grain, but nothing that distracts too much. The sound is better with good use of surround sound speakers and even some nice dynamic effects. Additionally, it only costs $3 more, which is a great price.

The Verdict

Some of the kills in Hatchet II made me cringe, some of them made me roll my eyes, but there's enough high quality special effects here that most Gorehounds will love this movie. Additionally, with all of the extras on the DVD or the Blu-ray, it's worth buying over just renting, while the latter is the better deal.

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