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.
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.
I’ve mentioned before that Adam got his start doing comedy, especially during romantic comedies but also stand up and sitcom kind of work. Holliston is a sitcom that is described sometimes as the big bang theory for horror fans.
It’s semi autobiographical in the way that my Violent Blue is – that is to say a lot of the events and situations happened in one form or another but have been so dramatised and fictionalised dad you can’t rightly refer to it as a non-fiction any longer. Things are tweeked for comedy and heightened for the best plot – along with certain fictional elements and ideas thrown in out of nowhere.
It’s low budget – man is it low-budget.
It’s cheesy and cheap and it shows. I stress this, I have to point this out because you have to know this going in. If you expect this thing to look like “Friends” then you are going to be seriously upset. Still, it’s strength isn’t so much in the production values as it is in the characters that you genuinely connect with the characters Adam and Joe and Corey and Laura, and that makes you forget the terrible looking robot cat, or some of the sillier gags, or the extremely clumsy attempts to break the fourth wall. That’s the thing about Holliston, it has so many technical imperfections that are just glaringly obvious, and yet for some reason it endears itself to the viewers despite all of these shortcomings (and it’s definitely DESPITE these shortcomings, not because of them…).
When I met Adam Green at Days of the Dead a few years ago he was on a publicity tour for Holliston. Seriously, I had not even heard of this show. It was nowhere near being on my radar. Even after meeting Adam I wasn’t quite sold – what did it for me was seeing the Holliston panel, and watching Adam along with Derek Mears and Dave Brockie laughing it up on stage and really selling the show. To the best of my knowledge, it was Dave Brockie’s last convention appearance – I am incredibly grateful that I got a chance to meet him. By the time I got on to him, he was out of the Odorous Urungus costume and in some ways that’s a bit of a drag, but in other ways….
See, if it had been Odureus, I would’ve approached him differently. We would have joked and gotten the picture and that would be it. But I didn’t meet Odorous, I met Dave. We chatted about radio and how Danny Bonaduche was constantly referring to GWAR as his favourite band – Dave seemed taken aback by that… “I love Danny Bonaduce… “He said in slight awe. Dave was friendly and charming outside of the costume and I’m very glad I got to meet him. He was the epitome of my own philosophy for sitcoms where what you need is a pretty girl some good friends and a smart mouth puppet. Dave was such a smart mouth and could not have been more of a cartoon… Not even in the animated episode – ha ha!
Houston is available on DVD and Blu-ray, and eventually it will be streaming somewhere… But the time you read this it may have already shown up on geek nations website. (remember I write these things months, if not years in advance) it’s definitely worth checking out.I remember I found it a little difficult to get through at first, but it didn’t take long for me to be hooked – waiting each week for new episode (which I would watch legally every week streamed off of fear net website) It’s addicting, and it’s amazing how easy it is to invest in these characters start it’s an even more amazing how the investment in these characters washes over to these people – these actors, and Adam Green himself. That’s important to remember, as we explore Digging up the Marrow next month.
Can I just first state that I’m a little pissed that Disney pops up with a fun family princess film by this same title, about a year and a half or so after Adam Green released this thriller? I hate that these things are inevitably going to be confused, and the way that the Disney frozen really grabs that name in eclipses Adam Green’s Frozen. This is actually the first film of Green’s that I ever saw, it came on the strong recommendation from the late and lamented Horror et cetera podcast. It’s the story of three people on a ski weekend who get stuck on a chairlift, as the ski resort shut down for the week. It’s such a simple yet terrifying premise and it’s a great departure from the Hatchet films that Green was getting known for. Its a chance to show what else he can do. Even though it’s locked into the category, this is not really horror, not to me anyhow. This is thriller territory. There are no monsters here, unless you count the wolves that are very active below them. No, in this case the situation itself is the villain – and the interpersonal relationships take center stage. It is squirm inducing, and uncomfortable. It is the sort of movie that will stay with you, long after the film is over.
I mentioned earlier that this is a departure from the style of the Hatchet series, and that’s intentional – Green didn’t want to necessarily be pigeonholed into the horror genre, and really – this is the kind of thing where he shines. You have to remember that he started, writing comedy, particularly romantic comedy – and characters are really his strong points. While his romcom type work hasn’t gotten nearly as much exposure as the horror stuff, it’s where his skill sets begins. The emphasis on characters and relationships is what makes Frozen work. You genuinely care about these people, you emphasize and sympathize with them and that’s absolutely what this film needs to be able to tear apart your heart. That’s what Frozen is about really, to break your heart and to chill your soul – no jump scares, just suspense. This is absolutely a must see, although for me it doesn’t have a lot of repeat value. I don’t think I’m going to be a visiting it, but I’ve got a say – definitely watch it, even if its only once.
Well there is the delightful scene of Adam Green making his quick cameo laying sick in the jail cell next to her. Green shows up in all three of these at films, and I always imagine that he is playing his character from Holliston – but out on a rowdy Mardi Gras trip (I think it would make it better is if Joel Lynch showed up as well). We are back into the bayou again but this time it’s different – we’ve got a SWAT team, armed to the teeth, infiltrating these dark woods. It’s a stark contrast from the last film’s disorganized group of hicks with shotguns running out into the night to try and capture Victor Crawley. The evidence of the previous slaughter is all around us – at one point one of the SWAT team members point out that there are someone’s testicles hanging from a tree branch – and that this is something that should never, ever happen!
The cast is once again stellar, with the SWAT team being led by Derrik Meres, but my favourite appearance in this film is Sid Haig. Sid showed up practically out of nowhere, as this bizarre hermit who had the ashes of Victor Crawley’s father. I have never seen him flustered quite so effectively as he is in act three, and I love it.
The monster suit looks better than ever, with the move from latex and rubber to silicone. The kills are as effective as they’ve ever been, and it definitely maintains the tone. The humour is still there, one of my favourite moments is when once again Perry Shen, this time playing one of the paramedics, remarks that they found a body out there that looks exactly like him – “we all look the same to you?” That it’s just a wonderful and brilliant nod to the fact that the same actor has appeared in every one of his films, even though he keeps getting killed off!
Green has publicly stated that Hatchet 3 is the end of the series (much to the fans chagrin). There was never an intention to go any further and he has no plans to continue this franchise – however we’ve heard similar statements both in the Nightmare and Friday franchises, and in all honesty I wouldn’t mind seeing more of these. However if this series is truly just going to remain a trilogy, I can’t fault him.the series ends on a high note with Green and the Hatchet films at the top of their game.
I really enjoy Hatchet 2. A lot of it has to do with the cast. In the first film we had a quickie cameo from Robert England (and really what’s up with that? I realise it’s just the name recognition, but it’s the most useless scene in the film ). This film really stars Tony Todd. I’ve always got a soft spot for voodoo Masters, and Todd is doing a great job chewing the scenery here, we get a much better feel for this character.
Todd is at reprising his character from the first film (which was basically a cameo). This time he is in the thick of it, front and center – leading the chase back into the bayou to discover Victor Crawly.
Danielle Harris shows up in this one as well, taking over the role of Marybeth. I realize that in a lot of ways this role was written with her, or at least with her in mind, but scheduling conflicts prevented her from starring in the first film, this time Green was delighted to be able to bring her in . Maybe it’s just the conservative in me that doesn’t like change, but I actually find I prefer the previous actress – Harris is a little more confrontational and for some reason the little bit less likeable in the role. Danielle is a lovely person, and a lot of fun, but I’m just not a huge fan of her in this role. Still, it’s a return to familiar stopping grounds, as Kane Hodder hacks and slashes his way through the cast, again giving a stellar performance as Victor Crawley and actually flexing his acting muscles in the flashback scenes. There is a real sense of terror and peril every time you go back into that bayou. It’s also amusing to see Perry Shen back as a completely different character – this will be a running joke in the series and one that I really enjoy, but we’ll talk about that more next time as we explore Hatchet 3.
Hatchet is the film that Adam Green made a name for himself with. Around this time the film itself was being rejected by every distribution outlet because it wasn’t a remake or a Japanese horror film…which is what became the tagline. Green embrace everything about 80s horror that the fans love. Back in that time period this would probably fall into the category of slasher, but then again Freddie Krueger falls into that same category – and I’ve never really thought it was correct for him. He is a monster, a Demon, something supernatural and spooky. In that same way, Victor Crawley is more than just a slasher – he is in unstoppable force of nature, risen from the dead in a supernatural way. He is the living, walking embodyment of the forboding swamp and he NEVER stops coming back.
Hatchet is bloody and funny and exciting and I do love it. This film was on my radar for years before I actually get a chance to watch it, indeed it was only after meeting Green himself that I moved this thing to the top of my list and really dedicated some time to it and it sequels. It pays to sit down and watch them all straight through – it’s a brilliant run and we’ll be looking at some of the others later on.
Of course Netflix has its head up it’s tuchas as usual and never has all three listed – the third is frequently up and occasionally you’ll see the second, but never at same time. You’re going to have to buy the DVDs, all of which are available at Greens store up at http://ariescopemerchandise.goodsie.com/ Go grab those and come back next time and we’ll chat a little bit about Hatchet 2.