The original Hatchet was fun. Was it the worthy successor to Halloween and Friday the 13th like it was being presented? No. Not even close. There’s just something about Victor Crowley that’s not as iconic as Michael Meyers or Jason Voorhees to me. But still, it was fun, and Hatchet II is a worthy sequel that’s even more gruesome than the original. That said, is it so violent that it deserves to be unrated? Not hardly, but all that and more is talked about on the extensive commentaries, which make this one DVD worth picking up if you’re a fan.
Didn’t see the original Hatchet? Well, that sucks for you, since this one takes place immediately following the original. We’re once again with Marybeth (this time, played by Halloween-famed Danielle Harris rather than Tamara Feldman), battling Victor Crowley on a boat. The confrontation ends and we’re once again in New Orleans, literally only a day apart from events that happened like four years ago in our own time. Surprisingly, slasher-film wise, not much has really happened in our time, and it makes Victor Crowley’s return a welcome one for the slasher fans who really missed him. Personally, I’ve never been a huge fan of Crowley. He always looked like a demented version of Sloth from The Goonies to me. Anyway, Victor Crowley’s still alive, so that means that you can expect more blood and creative ways for people to meet their maker, just much more of it this time.
A complaint that a lot of people had with the original was that there weren’t enough kills in it. And while that might have been true, that didn’t really bother me. What bothered me was the character himself. Victor Crowley, with his deformed face and goofy overalls, isn’t very scary. A stalker is much more horrifying when you don’t know what they look like. And unless that stalker has a horrific backstory like Freddy Krueger, than a mask is always preferred. But Victor Crowley doesn’t wear a mask. He stalks around the woods and kills people in sadistic ways. The fans will of course eat this up, but those who didn’t like the original won’t be won over by this one, and that’s just fine. Because Hatchet II isn’t meant for newcomers. It’s purely meant for the fans. Why else would fan-favorite Tony Todd (the one and only Candyman) return, but this time with a much meatier role? I’m sure the fans requested it, and director Adam Green happily obliged.
In many ways, this is one of the most fan-serviced movies I can think of. Instead of explaining things for those who never saw the original, the mythology is built on even more, which I’m sure will leave newcomers out in the cold. This is both one of the greatest strengths and weaknesses of the film -- it can’t stand on its own. The various murders (from a massive chainsaw to the privates of two unlucky characters to a guy getting buzzed in the brains by a motorized sander) are only impressive when you take into account how few deaths you had in the original. I could imagine that it would make for a rather underwhelming experience for anybody who has never seen the first one. Even so, this movie is not for those people, and if you were a huge fan of the first, then you’ll love this one just as much. It’s a good sequel, and fans will definitely approve.
The special features are what make this disc worth owning. “Hatchet II: Behind the Screams” is a half-hour documentary on the making of the movie. If you have any interest in learning how Hatchet II was made, you can’t go wrong with this one. It’s all fairly detailed, from the sets to the characters that interacted within them.
There are also some trailers for the movie, but that’s not what you’re interested in. What you’re interested in are the two commentaries, and they definitely deliver, both in their own separate ways.
Usually, with commentaries recorded by multiple parties, I’ll tell you to listen to one over the other. But on this disc, they’re both pretty interesting. On the “Production Audio Commentary" track, we learn about duck-poop-infested waters and about all the major horror icons (Lloyd Kaufman!) who make appearances in the film. In the “Cast Audio Commentary" track, we get to hear stories about what it was like working on the set and also, toward the end, a lengthy discussion about how the film became unrated in the theaters and the fight that went on because of it. It’s all really fascinating stuff and definitely worth a listen. Pick it up.