Adam Green’s Hatchet series is back with Hatchet III which is now available on home release.
I’m a late arrival to the Hatchet party, but have always been aware that it walks in that treacherous territory that is comedy horror. That’s not to say that this is a full on slap-stick, looking for laughs horror film, like Mel Brooks’ Dracula: Dead and Loving It.
Instead, it’s a gory, violent film that is liberally sprinkled with wise cracks and scenes of comic relief.
It’s kinda weird. And that’s probably why, though popular, the Hatchet series has almost as many enemies as it does friends.
To very quickly recap on previous events, Marybeth (Danielle Harris in part 2 and 3) has unfortunately become involved with an unstoppable hulk of an immortal psycho killer known as Victor Crowley (slasher veteran Kane Hodder).
After two of her family members accidentally disturbed vengeful Crowley in his ramshackle swamp shack, Marybeth has been trying to put an end to the ordeal which has resulted in the gory demise of numerous people.
Hatchet III begins as Hatchet II closes, with Marybeth finally applying the killing blow (or so she thinks) to Crowley before staggering back to civilisation exhausted to proclaim her victory and finally get some rest.
But being armed and covered in blood when entering a police station isn’t the best idea, and after finding herself locked up on suspicion of murder, her Crowley themed explanation is met by ridicule as the local townsfolk see the psycho killer as nothing more than an urban legend.
But as we viewers know, he’s not, and before long he has magically pieced himself back together and is chopping his way through more unfortunate people that have found themselves in his domain. And it seems that only Marybeth has the power to destroy him forever.
Generally, people that like horror to be funny, don’t like it too violent and vice versa, so Hatchet fans are a niche market of sorts.
The Hatchet series has been a favourite at Frightfest, which makes sense as it’s the perfect environment to watch this kind of film – with an audience that laughs at gore, cheers on exploding heads and that appreciates a small amount of well placed cheese.
If you’re not this kind of person and are not watching a Hatchet film in this kind of environment, you may need a bit more time to adjust to it.
The jokes are bad, the dialogue is clumsy at times and some of the performances, often from horror movie veterans, can feel awkward as they deliver lines in a knowing, tongue-in-cheek style. In Hatchet III for example the cast includes Danielle Harris (obviously) but also Zach Galligan (Billy from Gremlins), Caroline Williams (Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2) and Sid Haig (House of 1000 Corpses), and all of them radiate a weird ‘this is all a bit too silly’ vibe.
The plot isn’t bad, though it also offers few surprises. It’s your usual stalking psycho in the woods deal, although with less use of first person than you see in other films of its type.
The gore is extreme, but delivered with a comic cushion, the effects themselves being impressive and thankfully light on cgi.
The scripting and delivery does move dangerously close to being as bad as a made-for-TV ‘Giant Shark versus Volcano Octopus’ movie… But the copious amount of action prevents things from getting that bad.
There’s nothing wrong with Hatchet III. It’s amusing, entertaining, well delivered and fast moving. But does it offer anything new? Is it original? Does it make you desperately want a Hatchet IV to come into being? No, nope and no thanks.
Adam Green knows how to make a horror movie, so it’s just a good thing that Victor Crowley has finally been laid to rest so that Green can concentrate on some new, fresh ideas.