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Hatchet II (Blu-ray Review)

Is it just I or has way too much time elapsed between when we last talked about Hatchet II here on the site?  Hmm…I thought that to be the case.  I mean come on, we only mentioned the film here, here, here, here and oh yeah…over here too.  Well don’t worry my little monsters (oh God….the horror…someone please shoot me…I’m talking like Lady Gaga!).  There’s enough of Victor Crowley to go around to combat everyone’s withdrawal symptoms no matter how intolerable they may seem. So do me a favor.  Sit back, relax, grab a hold of your favorite beverage and try your best to follow along because I have a lot of shizzy to cover here and I want to hit the ground running right out of the gate (like you would say on a job interview).

“Mr. Crowley…dum dee dum…what went down in your head?

Film  

Ladies and gentlemen…if I can have your attention please (grabbing the loudspeaker)… “old school America horror” is back BIGGER and BADDER than ever in the sequel to 2006’s Hatchet…Adam Green’s Hatchet II.  The sequel to the original indie sensation features the return of slasher Victor Crowley as he continues to pummel to anyone in his way and easily doubles the body count over his initial Blu-ray outing.  And of course, the multi-talented Adam Green not only directs the film, but he also wrote it too.  The feature stars the very lovely Danielle Harris (Halloween), Kane Hodder (Jason Voorhees from Friday the 13th), Tony Todd (Candyman) and R.A. Mihailoff (Leatherface).

So finally…following a highly controversial run in AMC theaters (if you can call it a run at all), Adam Green’s hotly anticipated sequel is coming home to the Blu-ray format as horror fans across the world prepare to rejoice and celebrate the bloodbath of Victor Crowley in glorious 1080p.  Even though it only lasted two short days, Hatchet II became the first unrated independent horror film to be exhibited by a major theater chain in more than 25 years.  Why was it yanked so suddenly?  Really?  Who cares!  Let’s just all be happy that we the fans get the unrated cut of the film on the superior home video format of choice…Blu-ray!  What happened in the past is truly behind us.  We are here to celebrate the February 1st release of Hatchet II on Blu-ray.  Let’s put this controversial nonsense to rest once and for all as we raise our glasses to toast Adam Green’s second successful outing in the Hatchet franchise.  Now.  Can we all move on?

Hatchet II picks up right where the original film left off as Marybeth (Danielle Harris) narrowly escapes the clutches of Victor Crowley in the swamp.  It should be noted that Danielle Harris has been recast in the role originally played by Tamara Feldman.  Post escape, Marybeth begs Reverend Zombie (Tony Todd) to help her return to Victor’s swamp to reclaim her father and brother’s dead bodies.  Reluctantly, Reverend Zombie agrees to help her as long as she brings her uncle Bob (Tom Holland) with them.  He seemingly has an ulterior motive.  Zombie recruits a team of hired guns to return to the swamp and exact their revenge on the so-called ghost story that is Victor Crowley.  Only a few are brave enough to accompany the pair back to the swamp after learning the true nature of their apparent suicide mission.  But as usual, money talks.  But without a very big advance, would you accept Zombie’s offer?  Of course you wouldn’t!  Ha ha.  But this is a horror movie; so for argument’s sake let’s just pretend you would.  But I should point out; it’s during this recruiting process in Zombie’s shop that we the horror fans are treated to a number of familiar faces that we all should recognize.  I’m not going to ruin any surprises here, but kudos to Adam for pulling off this nostalgic treat.  He’s always looking out for his fans.  You gotta love the guy.

So anyway, once Zombie, the hunters, Marybeth and her uncle finally leave and go into the swamp, this is where the real fun begins.  Or should I say carnage and body count?  As you can expect, Victor Crowley proves he is no mere legend as he takes out each hunter one-by-one and even sometimes in pairs.  If I remember correctly, I believe the body count to be 17 in this film.  It’s no surprise that these chain of events were going to happen, but what truly matters here is the way they are executed.  Instead of going for the traditional slasher kill sequences, Adam Green amps it up here with some very original death scene showcases.  My favorite one, after three viewings of the film, still has to be the sex scene.  I won’t ruin it for you, but it’s pretty hilarious.  I mean for those of you that have sick minds, but of course.  Ha ha.  And there’s a little back-story and some trickery involved here too.  It’s not all about the body count.  Do you remember me saying that Reverend Zombie seems to have some ulterior motives for helping Marybeth?  Well those become crystal clear as his secrets are exposed in the final act.  And what an act it is.  In addition to actually seeing someone give Victor Crowley a run for his money, the final act showcases the emotional qualities and physical abilities of our a$$-kicking heroine, Marybeth…my sweet Danielle Harris.

And before we move on to the A/V presentation of the Blu-ray disc, I wanted to take a quick moment to reflect on two people, besides Adam Green, who really make Hatchet II what it is.  Those two individuals are Tony Todd and Danielle Harris.  Tony Todd is just as creepy as he was so many years ago in his iconic role as the Candyman.   That creep factor plus the dynamics he brings to his character, Reverend Zombie, really shine here.  You’ll get a bigger glimpse as to what I am alluding to here when you tackle the disc’s Special Features, but know the following.  This role was made for Todd and I couldn’t and wouldn’t want to see anybody else filling these shoes except for him.  And with that being said, I feel both obligated and honored to mention the lovely scream queen Danielle Harris.  Now ordinarily I am not a fan of recasting in movies, but when I found out that Danielle Harris would be taking over the role originally played by Feldman I was like, “Oh hell yeah!”  For those of you who are not familiar with Danielle Harris, GET FAMILIAR!  Her name is already a legend in the horror community and her roots date back all the way to the early Halloween 4 and 5 films.  But man, can this girl act!  And damn if she isn’t sexy in the process.  That’s all I will say.  Danielle Harris is the bomb, yo!  Again, kudos to Green for bringing her onboard!

So there you have it.  Hatchet II is not going to win any awards or garner any Oscar attention, but it’s not going to cheat you in any which way either.  What I mean by that is if you are looking for that traditional “old school America horror” feature, then look no further than Hatchet II.  It doesn’t get anymore iconic than this nowadays in the world of horror films.  To all the diehard fans of the Hatchet series, you know what I’m talking about.  Only time will tell if we ever get another entry in the franchise, but until then, I will always have that final scene in Hatchet II.  It’s probably my favorite Danielle Harris moment ever and damn does she own the screen in the final minute.  Hell yeah!

Video  

It’s that time again to dispense with all the film talk and get to the real reason while all the video and audiophiles are really here reading this review…the Blu-ray disc vitals.  Let’s begin like we always do with the disc’s video.  This is a very dark Blu-ray.  I’m not saying that in terms of the subject matter, but in regards to the set locations and minimal lighting used.  But much like the first Hatchet Blu-ray release, these dark scenes lend themselves well and look quite impeccable on the format.  Dark Sky Films and MPI Media Group brings Hatchet II to the Blu-ray format with a gorgeous (sounds weird saying that about a horror film, huh?) AVC MPEG-4 video encode, which is perfectly framed in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio presentation.  And did I mention those blacks?  Wow!  They are deep, inky and plentiful here.  There is sharp detail throughout with only natural skin tones to be found.  Every drop or spray of blood is meticulously caught on this Blu-ray transfer.  There are low levels of cinema grain present, but nothing you will ever find distracting.  Where this Blu-ray really shines is in its daylight scenes.  Those rival reference quality discs there.  For the mere budget they had to work with on this film, I feel a score of 4.5 is only fitting here.  I’ve seen better, but come on people…this is a horror film…a gritty and visceral Blu-ray presentation, done right, is what we all want.  Right?  Believe me.  You won’t be disappointed here.

Audio  

Ah…here’s another important area when judging the worthiness of a Blu-ray release…the inevitable audio department.  Just how well does the Hatchet II Blu-ray release stack up?  Well, let’s find out!  The film arrives on the format of choice with an aggressive DTS HD-MA 5.1 surround sound track that slays as hard as Victor Crowley does in some respects.  Great care was taken here to ensure every ambient sound was captured.  I love it!  And best of all…I did not know how Green would ever top off the Marilyn Manson musical onslaught intro in his first film, but he caught me off guard here.  Actually, he surprised the hell out of me.  He went with a choice cut called “Just One Fix” from good old Ministry.  It’s a remix version of the song and it kicks some serious a$$!  I thought the intro to True Blood was great.  This has all of that and so much more!  It was also served as homage to the first film because we are treated to some memorable onscreen items, but I have already digressed enough.  We are here for the audio.  The orchestral score of Andy Garfield literally engulfs you in the soundscape as the swamp comes to life in your viewing room.  It’s that good folks!  The LFE is strong throughout and the rears particularly come to life during any water related scene.  The dialog, a sticking point for me, was clear and intelligible throughout.  I thought it sounded a bit low in the beginning, but it also could have been my ears as I have been sick as a dog all weekend long.  Just like the video, the audio is near perfect considering the budget the crew had to work with.  Awesome job guys!

Special Features  

Alright, anyone that associates with me knows that I usually don’t have a lot of patience for Special Features, but when it comes to an Adam Green feature, I will always make an exception and heed all his teachings.  While there’s not that much here, it’s the behind-the-scenes documentary and the audio commentaries that really make this Blu-ray department truly shine and ultimately lends itself to the elevation of the score.  And best of all…the Special Features are all in High Definition!  So I ask you.  What is better than Adam Green Special Features in High-Definition?  Give up?  Okay, I will tell you.  Not much!  This is as good as it gets…at least for me.  The only thing I will comment on that I feel is missing from this Special Features package is the lack of any deleted scenes.  Adam refers to them in the commentaries, but we don’t get to see any.  However, here’s my way of thing.  They were deleted for a reason, right?  So anyway, the following is everything you will find in this thrilling Blu-ray package.

  • Hatchet II: Behind the Screams (HD, 33:39) – The cast and crew of Hatchet II are on hand to bring us an all-access look behind-the-scenes on the set.  It is noted that the majority of the crew from the original are back to work on this second outing.  Remarkable!  Also of interest is that Adam received complaints about how there were not enough kills in the first Hatchet.  So what did he do?  He nearly tripled it this second time around.  We are treated to Storyboards, Raw Cam, Slash Cam, Dailes, Victor Crowley’s Body Count and many more captivating moments.  Pretty much, Adam gives us the low down on just about everyone in his cast and crew.  It’s literally like one big happy family.  I want to be adopted!  But seriously, all aspiring filmmakers…you know you need to watch this.  You can clearly see why Adam’s enthusiasm is contagious on the set.  However, wait to you hear Adam’s recount of Comic-Con 2010 and the soldiers he talked too.  Wow!  It’s very emotional.
  • Hatchet II: First Look (aka Hatchet II EPK) (HD, 8:15) – Adam describes Hatchet II as the first movie completely blown out on steroids and explains why this second outing is so much better than the first.  He also had complete power regarding whom he wanted to cast as opposed to having to persuade producers.  The EPK also examines why Danielle Harris was the primo choice as Marybeth, the necessity of Tony Todd, the increased body count and so much more.
  • Meet the FX Team (aka The Killing Machine) (HD, 6:14) – FX crewmembers joke about how much blood was used on the set as they showcase and dissect the kill scenes.  They also talk about the infamous belt sander.  LOL.  Love it!  The FX crewmembers also chat about how much fun they had making this film.  Man…this is one family that I definitely want to be a part of!
  • Production Audio Commentary Track – This audio commentary features Writer/Director Adam Green, Cinematographer Will Barratt and Make-Up Effects Supervisor Robert Pendergraft.  Right from the beginning it’s a history lesson I wanted to learn more about.  From Danielle’s fear of aquatic life to Kane’s feet being stuck in duck sh#t…it was a great way to start off the commentary with a bang.  Interesting to note is the fact that the movie was shot in 17.5 days.  Wow!  They also talk about shooting nudity.  Adam says something I wasn’t expecting.  LOL.
  • Cast Audio Commentary – This audio commentary track includes Writer/Director Adam Green, Kane Hodder and Tony Todd.  I will leave it to your imagination as to what happens when these three personalities come together.
  • Trailer (HD, 1:56) – I remember seeing and loving this one at Comic-Con 2010.
  • Teaser Trailer (HD, 1:11)
  • TV Spot (HD, 0:33) – I can honestly say I did not see this one on TV in my viewing area.
  • Radio Spot (HD, 0:32) – The theatrical movie poster is shown during this audio only presentation.

Final Thoughts  

Do I even need to develop this section?  If you made it this far, then you already know this is a MUST-OWN for every horror genre fan out there.  You should not be second-guessing yourself.  You should be clicking on the link below to pre-order and bring Hatchet II home on Blu-ray ASAP!  Well?  What the heck are you waiting for?  Adam Green’s Hatchet II arrives on Blu-ray tomorrow, February 1st with a killer video encode, a dope surround track and an assault of extras to get the filmmaker in all of us very excited and enthralled about the process.  Come on!  Do I need to help you?  Move that mouse cursor down to the link below, click and buy!  It’s that simple.  Thanks for reading folks.  Enjoy this one!  I did!

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Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

3 Responses to “Hatchet II (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Gerard Iribe

    Great review, Brian. I have Hatchet and Frozen still sealed on Blu-ray. I think I will get this and make it an Adam Green of horrors night sometime in the near future.

  2. Brian White

    Thanks Gerard! I appreciate it! Man…if I lived in LA, I would so be all over this Adam Green marathon you are about to have! You know what to do. Click the pre-order link above and bring this bad boy home!

    BTW…Adam Green wrote the following on his Facebook page about my review. I thought I would share.

    “Check out this DETAILED review of the HATCHET 2 Blu Ray. We’re getting tons of glowing reviews, but I love it when a reviewer truly backs up their opinion rather than just scoring a film high and saying they loved it. I also love the attention to the technical aspects and special features as my crew and I always go above and beyond to give you guys your money’s worth when you buy one of our films. Enjoy…”

  3. Andy Garfield

    Hey Brian,

    Thanks for your amazing review! I appreciate you mentioning the music! I was hoping you might make a correction from “Andrew Garfield” to “Andy Garfield” to combat the growing confusion over myself and the *other* Andrew who is currently filming the new Spider-man film. There is an increasing number of film fans who – despite my best efforts – really do think that he stars in big blockbuster films and also scores horror films. Thanks!