Hatchet 3 follows in the illustrious footsteps of the legendary Hatchet 2 and, of course, the unforgettable Hatchet. Well that’s not true I can remember nothing about the first first one except I think it didn’t so much have an ending as just stopped. Either through budget limitations or they just didn’t want the party to end. The second one definitely did end though because it shows it in the opening shot: final girl Marybeth (played by Danielle Harris) blows the villains face off. The End. To make sure he’s dead, which he isn’t because even with just a saggy pile of flesh where his ugly features were, he’s still able to get up and throttle her, she pulls his brain out through the shotgun wound, and then he falls backwards onto a rather large chainsaw that slices him in two. Vertically. Now he must be dead, surely? This is only the beginning of the film so you can guess that is probably not going to be the case.
As a horror fan you should be happy that the Hatchet movies exist. No one is denying that they aren’t deeply, deeply trashy but if you were around in the late eighties when the slasher cycle of horror movies was grinding on into more and more duller territory you would have loved to have had a Hatchet or two filling up the Blockbuster Video shelves. By the time of Friday the 13th parts 6, 7 and Jason takes Manhattan (well Toronto) there was surprisingly little gore on show for the average Fangoria magazine reader. The MPAA and the BBFC were so insistent on none grisly deaths that the film makers didn’t even buy buckets of blood for the film set. It was a depressing time.
The Hatchet movies are like a love letter to the earlier, happier era when The Burning and the earlier Fridays ruled the silver screen. Set in under the bayou of the deep south, they tell the tale of vengeful trouser dungaree-wearing Victor Crowley who was accidentally hacked up by his father due to a misunderstanding about wear to stand when a door is being chopped down. This is something that can easily happen in the deep south apparently. So, many years later Crowley wants revenge against some random strangers who had nothing to do with it but happened to be on a swamp tour which is also something that happens in the deep south.
But the plots, if you can call them that are just an excuse for Crowley to chop, chainsaw, tear apart and garrote his way through the cast. Each time the cast is full of modern horror icons, well, people you might recognise if you watch enough of this stuff anyway. If this had have been made in the 1970s I don’t know if they would have got Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee or Vincent Price involved but in the now we have Zach Galligan (Gremlins), Caroline Williams (Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2) and Derek Meyers (Friday the 13th the remake!)… All big names I think you’ll agree. I presume they take their respective roles because they are all given long chunks of dialogue which they chew through mercilessly and at maximum volume (“I said calm the fuck down!” screams one, blatantly not calming the fuck down himself). Also I suspect they take the roles because they get paid. Meyers might also be there because he played Jason Voorhees in the dreadful 2009 remake and Kane Hodder, as Crowley and Jason in several of the original films, gets to pull Meyer’s Skull out through his stomach. Which is nice, and, once you know this casting fact, strangely satisfying, especially if you’ve had to sit through the remake. Also Meyers ain’t the greatest, but might be the noisiest, actor ever, so this also means he gets to shut the fuck up.
This is what is left of him after Crowley/Hodder has had his way:
Asides from the horror casting though what were really here for is the extreme gore and outrageous kills. And there are plenty of them. Here’s a list of the ones I could keep up with:
Head explodes from heart attack defibrillator being attached and switched onto noggin
Head spit in two by hatchet, brain falls out
Arm is torn off and thrown away
The much-used hatchet rammed through throat
Face smashed through tree stump
Policeman Harpooned through chest and dragged to his death
Policewoman Harpooned through stomach and dragged to her death
Hatchet in gut, then picked up and torn in half
Slashed across face
Leg hacked off
Spun around and hatcheted in chest,hands, everywhere
Face stomped on until it caves in
Skull and spine pulled out through stomach
Rocket launcher in gut then explodes, and burning house collapses on top of corpse
Burning plank in back then arms torn off one by one then head pushed into mud so he drowns
Hatchet through the head
Eaten by crocodile
Head axle-grinded off, and neck stump squirts all over boat
Body, but not insides, pulled through hole in door
Chest ripped open from behind
Head and some dangly bits pulled off
Pinned onto tree branch sideways
Melted then shot with giant shotgun thingy.
A pair of bloody balls are also discovered dangling from a tree although it is never explained as to who’s they are and how they got up the tree in the first place.
No punches are pulled and no chance to have arterial spray spay everywhere is missed. But don’t think that this is some grim Game of Thrones death fest. Not only are all the murders kind of ludicrous as bodies pull abart like paper, but also we are not invested in the characters; we are here to watch them die in the most over the top way possible, and the film makers oblige our indulgence. I’m not saying that it doesn’t get a little bit tedious after a while but most of it clearly shot and competently edited, which is more than can said for, say, a Transformers movie. And it gives the audience what it wants: we’re not demanding much here but you would be surprised how few slasher films can just give us an angry hulking mutant slashing people up in an entertaining fashion. The Hatchet films do do this.
I couldn’t really say they are high art, but then I suspect no one involves thinks they are either. The plots barely hang together. I mean really, if Honey Island Swamp, where this takes place, is really that awful why not just stay the hell away in the first place. Victor doesn’t seem to want to leave the place so just leave him alone to his hatchet sharpening and dungaree repairs. Although I suppose then we wouldn’t have all that intestinal pulling, limb tearing, blood splattering fun down by the bayou.
Oh, I didn’t say whether this is good or not? Well its probably the best of the series but good might be stretching it a bit. Its well made enough, and certainly not boring (although some elongated bits of heated exposition do push things a bit close) but is it good? Well that’s by-the-bayou really. Oh god… sorry about that. Pffft.