by Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Hatchet bills itself as old-style American horror, and I guess that's perfectly fair. It is quite similar to the first Friday 13th movie, except with grislier deaths, as dictated by the current sensibilities. It is either an homage to the horror films of the late seventies and early eighties, or perhaps a parody of them. Maybe both.

The location is not a summer camp on a lake, but rather a touristy bayou excursion. As per the genre requirements, there are rumors of grisly events in these whereabouts in the past, but 90% of the potential victims scoff at the hoary legends. The deeper their level of cynicism, the earlier and bloodier will be their death.

The Jason character is Victor Crowley, a deformed human who was raised by a loving father and presented no harm to humans until one Halloween when some pranksters accidentally set his cabin on fire with him inside. His Daddy got back in time to save him, but could not get the front door open, so he grabbed a hatchet to break the door down. A terrified Victor was behind the door and ... well, you see where this is leading.

Some years later, Victor starts to commit a string of grisly murders, which brings us back to our tour boat. The excursion is being run by a newcomer who is unaware of the danger in that part of the swamp. In fact, he's a guy from Detroit with a bogus Louisiana accent, and he just moved to the South. His tour narration is written on index cards. He and his tourists are oblivious to their peril, except for one woman who knows and believes the Crowley legend. She is on the tour because her father and brother disappeared in the same area, and the swamp is closed to boat traffic, so her only way to get in the area is with the guy from Detroit who's too dumb to know better.

The first half of the film is essentially a raunchy comedy which sets the stage for the gory murders in the second half. We meet the characters and hear their witty interaction. In addition to the feckless tour guide, there are two college guys who are bored with Mardi Gras. One is our heartbroken hero, the other is his wisecracking sidekick. Then there is the old couple from the Midwest, and a con man (played by Bill Murray's much younger brother Joel) who brought a camera and two bimbos into the swamp, supposedly to create a naughty film called "Bayou Beavers." The dialogue consists mainly of the wisecracking sidekick making fun of the tour guide, and the two bimbos bickering. There is not much foreboding. The mood is silly, and the music is frivolous. The only hint of what is to come is the brooding presence of the woman who believes the Crowley legend.

I guess you can figure out the rest of the plot on your own. The tour guide runs the boat aground conveniently close to the old Crowley place, and the group has to walk through the swamp while trying unsuccessfully to avoid gators and Victor, who ends up hurting them real bad.

Several icons of horror appear with the cast of relative newcomers. In a flashback scene, Robert Englund (Freddy Kruger) plays the missing father of the serious girl. Tony Todd (Candyman) has a comical cameo. Kane Hodder (Jason Vorhees) is once again cast as the monster, Victor, who is essentially a Southern-fried version of his famous Jason character. Hodder also gets to demonstrate some sensitivity as Victor's heartbroken father who accidentally kills his beloved if deformed son with a hatchet.

(Here are the three legends together on the set in a posed photo.)

This is your film if you would like to see what is essentially a modernization of Friday the 13th for a new generation. The recent years have seen a new style of American horror film, rated PG-13 and often remade from Japanese originals, using a style which is grungy and stylish and arty, and a tone as serious as a senior project at NYU film school. Hatchet is different. Not only is it funny, but it's in theaters as a hard R for extreme violence and copious T&A, and the DVD will undoubtedly be even nastier because the film had to be cut substantially from the festival version to get an R for the theatrical release. (There was even talk of releasing it as a balls-out NC-17). I'm not a great fan of slasher films just because I don't "get" the thrill in spurting blood and graphic dismemberment, so I actually enjoyed the shallow first half of the film much more than the predictable bloody denouement. I got into the characters and laughed quite a bit, which means that the film's set-up must be effective because the audience gets to identify with the characters and starts to enjoy being in their company, and thus cares when the mood changes and they start to feel imperiled and eventually get bumped off.

Bottom line: a competent old-school "guilty pleasure" slasher film with plenty of gore and T&A, in the manner of the late 1970s and early 1980s. It's recommended if you like the old slasher films and are sick of the current crop of horror offerings, which gives you a choice of ponderous torture porn or oh-so-serious-and-arty PG-13 remakes of Asian originals.

Still awaiting DVD info








56 Rotten Tomatoes  (% positive)
58 Metacritic.com (of 100)


6.9 IMDB summary (of 10)
B Yahoo Movies




Box Office Mojo. Although it caused some buzz at film festivals, it received only arthouse distribution, maxing out at 70 theaters.




  • Mercedes McNab and Joleigh Fioreavanti show their breasts in three different scenes.
  • Many, many Mardi Gras revelers show their breasts in the opening credit sequence.




Web www.scoopy.com

Our Grade:

If you are not familiar with our grading system, you need to read the explanation, because the grading is not linear. For example, by our definition, a C is solid and a C+ is a VERY good movie. There are very few Bs and As. Based on our descriptive system, this film is a:


I started with a C+ and then changed it. The film seems to stand out from its contemporary horror competition, so it seems better than it is. If people still made this kind of movie, this one would be competent, but only workmanlike and middle-of-the-road.  It functions either as an homage to old school horror or a parody of same. Either way it will seem like a breath of fresh air if you like the old  stuff.