It’s funny, when I wrote up the rest of these Director’s Spotlights, this film wasn’t even announced!
Just a couple of months ago I was fortunate enough to catch this while Green was touring theaters with the film. I was actually incredibly excited about this since there was no stop in Cleveland the last time he toured with a movie.
Made in secret, this film takes the Hatchet franchise beyond the originally planned trilogy, bringing Victor Crowley back for a whole new massacre.
We begin with Perry Shen (because it’s not a hatchet movie without Perry!) on a book tour, detailing his story of what happened ten years ago in the original trilogy (remember, though released years apart, all three movies take place over just a couple days). It moves on quickly though and shifts basically into a single set film – a real departure from the previous movies. Don’t fear though, the gore is just as plentiful and creative as anything else we’ve seen in the Hatchet series. Kane Hodder slices and dices his way through the cast with a renewed vigor. Adam told us “When I told the crew we were doing another Hatchet film, NO ONE was happy…except Kane!” No wonder. He’s now officially played Victor Crowley as many times as he did Jason Vorhees.
In preparation for the movie I actually marathoned the first three films and noticed how seldom Crowley is actually on screen. This time around it felt different and I mentioned this to Adam, asking if he intentionally put more Victor appearances in this film. He bobbed his head up and down almost chuckling.
“I’m so glad you said that. Actually Victor has less screen time in this movie than any of the others! We first screened the film and were like oh crap…the movie is named ‘Victor Crowley’ and he’s barely in it!”
He paused and continued.
“The thing is, even when he’s not on screen, his presence is felt through the entire film, so it feels like he’s there even when he’s not. But believe me,” Green concluded. “we stuck in absolutely every frame we shot of Kane (Hodder). There was nothing left on the cutting room floor.”
For my money, the real stand out performance here though comes from Felissa Rose. Horror fans know her as Angela from the first Sleepaway camp movie. She’s a regular on the con circuit and I run into her from time to time. I mentioned back a month ago that I ran into her at Days of the Dead and told her how much I liked her role.
The thing is, in person she’s the sweetest, friendliest extrovert I know. She smiles and chats and hugs whether you like it or not. Yet the character she’s playing here – Perry Shen’s agent- is obnoxious, irritating and despiciable. The heavy long island accent she puts on is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s such a departure from the Felissa I know that it really showcases her range and I loved it.
At the end of the day, I know I’m not saying a great deal about the film itself. Truth is I was asked not to spoil it and even though the theatrical tour is over, there are still going to be ways to watch this and I’d love for you to go in cold, with no spoilers or expectations. Right now it’s my favorite of all the Hatchet films because of the fresh approach and stand alone nature. Definitely seek this out, it’s absolutely worth a buy.
Black Christmas 2006
It was the weirdest thing, my wife came home with a DVD in her hand and passed it over to me. “I had some time to kill before my nail appointment, and I saw this and had to get it for you!”
I’m pretty sure I saw this version of Black Christmas before, but it may not have made quite as much of an impact on me… There were things that I remembered, certain beats but all in all it felt fresh, like watching it for the first time.
I’m a great apologist for a lot of remakes. I don’t hate on them simply for the sake of hating on them, but I do understand how this one might have drawn some serious criticism. Black Christmas is a cult favorite, with a very loyal fan base and any sort of a remake was going to inspire hate. Curiously enough, the director himself was a fan of the original and Bob Clark, the director of the original was on set to supervise occasionally.
There’s another thing that probably irritates a lot of the fans of the original… There’s a significant tonal shift here. You’re bound to get that when you’re going from the 70s film to a New Millennium movie, but it’s more than that. While it’s not official, as far as I’m concerned, the original black Christmas is a giallo. We have an unseen killer, we have POV shots of murederous hands and mysterious phone calls… It’s still kind of a horror movie, with some original kills and murder and none of the redeeming features of a say an episode of Law and Order, but as horror films go it has more in common with the giallo than other forms of film. There’s a far greater emphasis on the detective work than the stalker. The 2006 film on the other hand, is most definitely a slasher. There’s over-the-top Gore, a deformed stalking killer, and even a trophy reveal towards the end with all the victims piled into one place. The slasher genre isn’t quite as intellectual as the giallo… Not quite as respected.
Here’s the thing though, I don’t like giallo. Give me a good slasher film any day.
That may be why this take on this material appeals to me. In a very real way, it’s a very different film from its namesake. We have a couple of similar titles and names, and a handful of homage set pieces, but other than the fact that you got a killer in a girls dormitory at Christmas time, it’s simply not the same film. Remake is kind of stretching the definition. Reboot might serve it better.
I like the fact that we get to know the killer… Or should I say killers? We’ve got some deformities to make them into monsters and some well thought-out kills. Indeed, the amount of blood and gore in this film actually surprised me – a pleasant surprise mind you and this time around engaged through the whole thing. I got to admit, I really enjoyed this and it’s been enough to get me to check out some of the directors other work – not to mention giving me a reason to pull out the original film complete with Margot Kidder and John Saxon! I’m relying on dim memories for most of my comparisons here and I’d like a refresher.
Maybe we’ll tackle that another time. I’m running out of days until Christmas…
Carol and John’s Christmas Party
It’s hard to believe that it’s this time again. The annual Christmas party at the comic shop has become a longstanding tradition in Cleveland; easily as important event as Free Comic Book Day. There’s cookies and cupcakes and beer and art. There’s mingling with friends as well as the yearly food drive.
This time around, I contributed two covers to the art show, pieces which were raffled off to raise funds for the local food bank. I always feel a little inadequate next to some of the stunning art displayed (someone crossstitched a cover. Another one this year had LIGHTS!) but it’s not a competition. Just fun for a good cause.
Comics were being given away alongside the custom brewed beer (seriously, I just want the bottle with Winston’s face on it). Even that got passed along to the son of my wife’s hairdresser (Who couldn’t have been more excited!). I arrived with a group of friends who immediately got lost in the crowd. (How do I manage to lose Superman and Batman anyhow?) Still, everywhere i looked there were familiar faces. It’s a party after all. It took me half an hour to make it to the door when I was ready to go and outside I found Santa and Mrs. Claus sitting on an overturned grocery cart with a PBR and a cigarette.
We basically captured Christmas in Cleveland pretty perfectly. Can’t wait to do it all again next year.
I’m kind of slowly building a Freddy Kruger victim collection. Not sure if I’ll ever complete it but it’s fun idea I think. Jennifer was one of the more memorable victims in part three – bad and beautiful.
Next up on my Horror reboot list is R.A. Miliahoff -aka Leatherface. you know, I’ve also got the original one as well – I really need to track down the dude who put on the mask for #2 don’t I?
Angel Lite commission
Okay, at this point, I’m beginning to suspect that the guys over at Angel Lite know about my aversion to pointy masks and hair – it’s a wierd thing that turned me off to Marvel comics and X-Men in specific when I was growing up. As cool as I think this character looks, they KEEP MAKING ME DRAW THESE POINTY MASKS!
Because how often do you get to meet a cartoon character in real life? I don’t just mean a voice, but an actual cartoon character???
Digging up the Marrow
Of all of his films, Digging up the Marrow maybe my favourite Adam Green feature. But there is a caveat, I’m a fan of the director….we’ll get that in the moment.
Digging Up The Marrow is a mocumentary done in a semi found footage style about a man chasing monsters. Real ones. Actually, more like deformed people with some spectacular deformities that have established an underground culture that is very rarely discovere. The man, Dekker, has enlisted the help of a filmmaker – Adam Green himself – to document and uncover these creatures. Along the way we discover Adam is not the first film maker he’s tried to enlist, and that there is more to this story then he’s telling.
It’s a wonderful tale, creepy and suspenseful. There are twists here and there and it keeps you engaged the whole way through – but here’s the thing, because Adam chose to use himself and his studio as characters in the film, it really appeals to his fanbase. For those of us who have kind of gotten to know him through things like his podcast and Holliston and the shorts on his Ariescope website, we already have a connection to the character that he is playing. We walk into it with that affection and interest. This is not to say that the film is inaccessible to the casual viewer, however it is going to be more work for an outsider to develop that sympathy for the character than it is for the fans. Adam is a very sympathetic character indeed, and I think this is still going to work wether you know who he is or not. But it really does work so much better if you do already know him. For Adam Green fans, I think this is really is epitome – it is his masterpiece and is love letter to the fans. I’ve saved this for last for a reason – I want you to experience his other films, I want you to watch Holliston, and I want you to understand him as a filmmaker… And to some extent as a person. That’s what’s really going to make this film pop for you it’s what’s really going to make you care about it. It really is my favourite of all of his films, with the best monsters and creepiest creatures that you will see.
I absolutely cannot wait to see what he does next.