Adam Green is a horror director fans can trust– even if only to provide dumb, bloody mayhem. This sequel to the 2006 horror-comedy is a fun throwback to slasher movies, mashing together some of the most ludicrous pieces of the “Friday the 13th,” “Halloween,” and “Nightmare on Elm Street” movies all into one satisfying mess of a film.
“Hatchet II” takes place directly after the events of the first at a swamp in New Orleans. Marybeth somehow survives an attacked by the giant, deformed murderer, Victor Crowley. In order to put an end to the monster’s rampage once and for all and retrieve the remains of her father and brother, she recruits a small group of hunters to venture out into the swamp to kill Victor Crowley.
The protagonist, Marybeth, is now played by notable “Halloween” scream queen Danielle Harris (pictured above). Although this alteration does distract from the series’ continuity, Harris feels more suitable for the role. The dramatic improvements offered in this sequel make for a much more enjoyable viewing experience. This time around, the silliness of the performances actually seem intentional.
While there isn’t anything particularly innovative about this slasher series, Green does deserve some recognition for managing to get this unrated indie flick screened at 68 AMC theaters across the United States as part of their AMC Independent program. With each submission, the MPAA kept giving “Hatchet II” an NC-17 rating, so Green and company went straight to AMC to show them the film.
When AMC theaters saw the uncut movie, they loved it. After hearing just how much of the violence would have to be cut out to get an R rating by the ratings board, AMC agreed to release “Hatchet II” in their theaters unrated. However, they later pulled the film from their theaters when it was released for only a few days due to complaints. This makes “Hatchet II” the first horror movie to be theatrically released unrated in mainstream cinemas across the United States since George A. Romero’s “Dawn of the Dead” (1978).
The “Hatchet” movies were produced very specifically for die-hard slasher fans. All three films are chock-full of all-star horror actors. In addition to Harris who played a role in four “Halloween” films, Robert Englund (original Freddy) plays Sampson in the first Hatchet, and the “Hatchet” villain, Victor Crowley, is played by Kane Hodder (Jason Vorhees in the seventh through tenth “Friday the 13th” movies).
Obtaining any real entertainment value out of the sequel’s 85 minutes of horror ridiculousness might require turning off your brain. The hunters bring guns to defeat the Jason Vorhees-like monster, even though it’s explained early in the movie that bullets can’t kill him. Much of the rest of the film is equally nonsensical.
The backstory is explained by the retired haunted swamp tour guide Reverend Zombie. That’s his name. The origin story, which involves an affair with a nurse, makes an honest attempt at developing a touching backstory. But the silliness of the rest of the movie makes these flashback scenes mostly disposable.
Victor Crowley gets increasingly more creative and gruesome with his kills. Keep in mind that the only physical version of this movie (both on blu ray and DVD) is the unrated cut, and Green takes full advantage of this unrestricted freedom. The first fatality involves Crowley ripping out a guy’s intestines and strangling him with them until he’s decapitated. Later, Layton (played by one of my favorites AJ Bowen) is beheaded while having sex with his girlfriend from behind, who can’t see that he’s been killed. His body continues thrusting even after he’s dead, creating some shocking hilarity.
“Hatchet II” also benefits from a couple twists– some predictable, some unexpected. If you’ve seen “Friday the 13th” and other 80s slasher flicks, you’ll likely predict most of what happens in the final act. But that doesn’t make this sequel any less engrossing.
Even after the release of a third entry in the franchise, the series’ fanbase (known as the “Hatchet Army”) continue to regard “II” as the superior sequel with its improved acting, more creative kills and an overall better narrative. Although it fails to make any substantial contributions to the genre, “Hatchet II” offers a great deal of horror fun that might be appreciated primarily by horror enthusiasts.
Hatchet II is available on DVD, blu ray and digital download here on Amazon; and the original here. And be sure to check out the other entries in the Horror Sequel Marathon right here on My Vinyl Muse!