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Regarding ‘Hatchet’…

2010/05/11
 
Okay, so here’s the thing – I now realize I can watch almost any horror/sci-fi movie that squarely establishes itself in the genre of ‘the death roulette’….you follow me here. I’m sure it started in some movie in 1967 that Tarantino could have and probably has provided an unlistenable ‘fan track’ to, and gotten it a Criterion re-release, but I’m going to mark the beginning of it’s true mainstream foothold where it truly lay: ‘Alien’. For further examples down the line, see ‘Leviathan’, ‘DeepStar Six’, ‘Dead Snow’, ‘Feast’, all of the ‘Friday The 13ths’, etc…. the key is a varied-background and semi-recognizable cast, that allows the viewer to get in on the killin’ action through a fun guessing-game.

Granted, for years it was a predictable format, one in which the player instead of the dealer had the advantage. Seven to eight characters in a perilous situation, and you know that two or less are going to make it out alive….so you have to lay down the order. As mentioned, for years it was a simple formula: First is the second black guy, next is the least talkative white guy – likely a tech or some sort, third is the bimbo, quickly followed by the tough latino girl, and fifth is the a**hole white guy. Finally is the main black guy, and then you’re left with the hero white guy and the once-mousy/now-brassy heroine….and maybe a cyborg, or another white guy, and one or two of them are going to make it out – the heroine more often than most…..but then…..

Somebody made a little movie called ‘Anaconda’ and tipped all that shit on it’s ear. Ice Cube lives through the goddamn thing – and if memory serves, he kills the goddamn snake too…..and this is in a cast that featured Kari Wuhrer, Owen Wilson, Danny Trejo, Jennifer Lopez, Jon Voight, and Eric ‘where you been?’ Stoltz. (And also featured Frank Welker as ‘voice of the Anaconda’ – no lie, look it up) I think Jenny From The Block lived too, but frankly I didn’t care then, and I don’t care now, because Ice Motherf***in Cube made it through that shit, and now we finally had a real game.

We move ahead a little to ‘Deep Blue Sea’ – yeah, the one about ‘smart sharks’…..Samuel L. Jackson, the goddamn star power here, not only dies, but he dies early and surprisingly when Einstein Shark jumps out of a tank and eats his scientist ass – shoulda worn the magic Kangol, Sam…..and LL ‘I was in Toys‘ Cool J, playing the cook with the parrot gets to make it to the end….see what they did there? The second black guy reigns triumphant, and Mike Rappaport dies. Nice work.

So enough of the backstory on ‘Death Roulette’, but I hope you’re on board with my analysis. This leads me directly to why I liked ‘Hatchet’….it was the perfect line-up of ‘people I think I know from something, I think’. Let’s break down the cast:

1) Joel David Moore – who I’ve seen in a million things, and is this amazing amalgam of the one or two likable traits I’ve seen through the careers of Jon Heder, Matt Lillard, Tom Green and D.J. Qualls. That’s astonishing, as three of those guys are goddamn unwatchable, and Heder, who maintains some value in my opinion, is still not far away from joining them in that chasm…..yet this goof-ass is very watchable and entertaining. Good protagonist choice.

2) Some tough chick: fine, didn’t matter who played this part, I’m just glad it wasn’t Michelle Rodriguez.

3) Joel Murray: I forgot he was alive, so big props to this casting of the star of ‘Moving Violations’, and then that cameo he had in ‘Scrooged’. I was going to call him the ‘Daniel Baldwin’ of the Murray brothers, but then I realized that even Daniel shows up in stuff here and there still, so I instead think he’s more of a ‘Billy’. (Whatever happened to Billy Baldwin, anyway? He was more popular than Alec for a couple of years there….did he get some sort of disease or something?). Anywho – I was even more a fan of Joel not even bothering to do his typical ‘Brother Bill’ schtick, so instead he came off more like a cousin of Dan Aykroyd….

4) ‘The black guy I think I recognize, but then I think I’m confusing him with Dule Hill from ‘Psych’.’ Good second banana to Moore, funny and likable. Knew he’d die, but he made a good run.

5) ‘That Asian guy that I KNOW I’ve seen before, I think maybe in commercials for Office Depot’ – again, turning this roulette wheel all asunder. Granted, when he threw on the bad Creole accent, followed by the bad Japanese accent, followed by the bad Detroit accent, he was a goner – but when? When’s he gonna go?

6 & 7) ‘The two girls that showed their tits’ – herein are the two useless stereotypical characters that kinda threw this off a bit. Granted, I was a little surprised the blonde wasn’t ‘Shannon from the first season of Lost’, because I would think she needs the work, but I digress. The functioning problem with both of these characters is twofold: 1) They showed their tits, so that’s just a target for early dismissal, and 2) They had entertaining banter, but only between each other – which meant that one HAD to follow the other, because nobody else talked to them….however, I will give ‘brunette ho’ some props for going out with a belt sander to the mouth – an original enough idea that I’m just going to ignore the fact that belt sanders, by and far, are workshop-exclusive tools and are electrical, not gas-powered – at least with how old that one HAD to be since Victor hasn’t been a-shoppin’ at the Home Depot in forty years, so where the f*ck did Crowley have that thing plugged in?

8 & 9) ‘The Jump-To-Conclusions-Mat Guy from Office Space and his wife, who mystifyingly wasn’t being played by Edie McClurg’. First, I love that guy in all his small roles – and I think he was on a sitcom at some point, too….but the thing is, the filmmakers failed by casting some schlub as his wife, when that part was clearly destined for Edie McClurg. And had they spent the extra money and secured Ms. McClurg, it would have been super-surprising when she got her head torn in half so goddamn early, because you just don’t tear Edie McClurg’s head apart, let alone so early, THESE REVOLUTIONARY FILMMAKERS ARE BREAKING ALL THE RULES!!! But instead, we got shlubsy, so when Office Space gets bitten by a jumping alligator, you knew they were the first to go in quick succession.

10) Kane Hodder – Why is this guy revered in horror circles? I used to think it was because he was Jason Voorhees, but then I looked it up and he was Jason in chapters 7,8 and 9 – those aren’t even kind-of-watchable. Why not throw David Prowse or Peter Mayhew a bone? At least those two gangly freaks had to do some physical acting in their suits, and you’d be bringing in all the Star Wars dorks to boot….yeah, I know, Kane has played other horror movies too, but none that I’ve ever seen. Christ, even playing ‘Victor’s Dad’, he didn’t speak at all….I just don’t get the draw.

11) Robert Englund – the words ‘featuring Robert Englund’ are words that have had exactly no value since the original ‘V’ went off the air. If he’s not playing Freddy, he’s just cashing a check – and I had to go back to the beginning to realize that was where he was ‘acting’ – in the horribly filmed intro, which had a mystifyingly ‘videotaped’ look and feel to it that almost made me turn off the movie. The rest of the film looks at least semi-professional, but that intro was horrid.

12) Tony Todd – as ‘Reverend Zombie’, was awesome. He is just a flat-out creepy mo-fo. Should have been in more of this thing.

So all in all, for all this breakdown, I thought it was passable in it’s attempt….I will say that ‘Victor Crowley’ had a ridiculous make-up job, and resembled a Chucky Doll that was left in the pool for a week. I think they realized that early on, so there was a severe limit on close-ups. Good choice.

I see they’re making another one of these – good luck, as everybody died ‘cept Kane and the girl, but I pledge I’ll watch it because they’re bringing back Tony Todd, and he’s billed way higher, so hopefully Rev. Zombie goes hunting….I note they also list Parry Shen as returning, which is interesting since his Asian character was dismantled in this one, and they also have a hot girl listed as playing ‘young Victor Crowley’. Ah, IMDB, your thoroughness and infallibility remain laughable matters….

After all that, I give Hatchet a nice shiny 5 out of 7.  Mostly because it plays to my weaknesses.

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