Thursday, February 03, 2011

Hatchet Wounds

I don't really know how to write about Hatchet II. It's not often that a horror movie that's having a blast being over-the-top and ridiculous makes me feel like a party-pooping geriatric ninny, but even I have buttons that I prefer unpushed - yes, there are places that make this stalwart flinch. I can watch A Texas Chain Saw Massacre with my breakfast; I watched Salo and wondered what all the fuss was about.

Don't get me wrong here - in no shape way or form am I saying that I found Adam Green's Hatchet II to be a more effectively horrific film than either of those masterpieces. This sloppy, brainless gore-fest doesn't deserve that much credit (and please do keep in mind that coming from me "sloppy brainless gore-fest" is not in itself an insult). But there are places of bad taste that I just derive no seedy pleasure from seeing played out. Even if they're just the film-maker sticking his pinkie to his lip and grinning about how gosh-darn subversive they're being, sometimes it just seems nasty and mean-spirited. And in a movie that's supposed to be a big goofy good-time that spells deadly for me.

There are two female characters in this film. (That's not counting the several girls that randomly show up for a second or two to show their boobs and/or hairless lady-patches.) One is our obvious final girl, longtime horror star Danielle Harris (she's Michael's niece in Halloween 4 and 5). She gets to be crazy and tough (emphasis on crazy) and is constantly shrieking and/or sobbing. Which well she maybe could've turned it down a notch but was fine. I expect the final girl who barely survived the first film to be out of it, that's the m.o.

The other is Avery (played by Alexis Peters - she's Joe Mantegna's niece!) and she hangs around the boys for a bit, lusting after AJ Bowen (fine so far, I've lusted after AJ Bowen's beard ever since The House of the Devil). There's a throwaway bit about her being a good shot. You know, to round out her character.

And then - spoiler alert - she's taking off her top and AJ Bowen's fucking her doggy-style while she nags at him to say "I love you." Naturally AJ doesn't wanna say "I love you" cuz guys don't say that, especially to nagging bitches they're currently fucking. And then of course our big bad Victor Crowley shows up while they're doing this and decapitates AJ Bowen, whose now headless body goes into a convulsing fit that Avery takes to be a newly vigorous fucking. So of course it takes her awhile to notice her beau hasn't got a head anymore, because women, ya know! Always wrapped up in their petty dramas, like wanting to be loved and not just be a vagina. And then she sees finally notices the situation she's in and she crawls away, ass in the air. And if you have heard the phrase "hatchet wound" or "gash" used as a euphemism for lady-parts then I think you can guess where this movie goes from there.

Now listen. I'd like to think that I've proven myself over the years as someone who not only gets the joke, but loves the joke, revels in the joke. I don't take shit seriously, if at all possible! I get that the Hatchet films are meant to be Eighties Slashers Squared. Green's taking the ridiculousness of the Friday the 13ths et cetera, all the rules that Randy lays out in Scream, and multiplying them by insanity. So there are lots of boobs for the sake of boobs, and more gore than you can shake a stick covered in gore at! He's just making the sex = death metaphor to what I suppose he'd call it's literal albeit extreme conclusion. I dunno, maybe I just have an axe up my own ass. But this scene was just ugly, and obvious, and witless, and put me in a bad mood for the rest of the movie.

Otherwise props must be given to the practical effects that Green so adores, of course - the gore effects are a blast, whether it's someone's head getting belt-sanded down or a chainsaw five feet long slicing two chaps for the price of one up the crotch.

But you know how yesterday I said in my run-down of my favorite horror films of 2010 that Red White & Blue director Simon Rumley was someone whose movies you come away from wanting to mentally file away Rumley's name, to keep an eye out for whatever he does next? After Hatchet and Frozen (ugh) and Hatchet II Adam Green's name is one I come away from his movies wondering how he keeps getting movies made. Besides an enthusiasm that's hard to deny - he gives great interviews, has an obvious affection for the genre's stars that he uses time and again, and I do have to say that Hatchet II has a terrific ending where you walk out on a high - his films are by and large terrible. I feel about him as I do about Kevin Smith - I can listen to them talk, but I never want to sit through their movies anymore. The only thing that kept me going through the first half an hour of this movie was the knowledge that good practical effects of people's heads being abused would be coming up - otherwise all character and all dialogue is excruciating.

There's a throwaway line that underlines all of this for me, where one of the characters references Leslie Vernon, the killer in Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon, which was a terrific and smart slasher movie that came out at the same time as Green's first Hatchet film. Green proves his horror cred by giving that movie an affectionate nod, but all it made me think was why isn't that film's director Scott Glosserman getting the break that you're getting? I should be sitting through a Leslie Vernon sequel, not this crap.


Joe Reid said...

Your feelings for Adam Green as a person vs. as a filmmaker are almost exactly how I feel about Rob Zombie. (And how I used to feel about Eli Roth before Eli started buying his own hype and crawling up the asshole of fanboy culture.)

unclemike said...

I defend Rob Zombie a lttle: when he directs his own stuff (House of 1000 Corpses, Devil's Rejects, Living Dead Girl Video), he's interesting and creative and his enthusiasm shows and I dig what he's doing.

When he's for-hire (Halloween i and ii) he's not very fun at all.

As for Adam Green: didn't really like Hatchet, but really liked Frozen. Yet to see Hatchet II. I think Adam's a good director (there are some really amazing shots in Frozen), but believable dialogue ain't his strong suit.

And Eli Roth makes a better director than an actor. ;-)