31 Days of Horror – October 22nd – “Hatchet”

It was inevitable that I would find my way back to the dregs. This is one of those movies that’s made to be good but also made to be bad. At least that’s how I’m interpreting it. I’ve heard mention of this series a number of times in the avenues of the internet that I frequent. That’s what put it on my list of potential movies to watch as is. As that list has dwindled and there have been fewer and fewer movies for me to select from, this moved it’s way up until here we find ourselves today.

Hatchet IMDb

I honestly didn’t know anything about this movie before I started it. I didn’t read up on it. I didn’t pull it up on IMDb to check it out or see who is in it. Honestly I didn’t even really pay any attention to the information on screen before I just hit play to fire it up. It wasn’t for any specific reason. I wasn’t trying to savor anything. I wasn’t attempting to preserve the mystique of the film. I’ve been riding this roller coaster of movies for the last three weeks at this point and I think there was just a part of me that knew I was headed back into something miserable and I wanted to get it over with as quickly as I could. That’s one of the hard things about the horror genre. Bad horror movies can still make a lot of money so people churn them out in what seems like greater fashion. I know that all genres have more than their fair share of straight to video garbage. But I don’t feel like as much of it is as celebrated as it is in the horror realm. So many of even the big names in that branch of film are rife with genuinely bad film. Even when you break down massive franchises like Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street and Halloween. There are a few titles between them that are pretty decent, but when you go through them one by one, many of the movies are just all around bad. But it doesn’t matter because scares are cheap in them. Is jump scares and slasher gore. So there’s this threshold for a lot of horror movies to be celebrated while still being mediocre at best.

The flip side of this is when you add comedy to the order. As I have said before, “Shaun of the Dead” is one of the highest orders of gold standard when it comes to this off shoot of the horror genre. It balances a true horror movie with actual comedy. The laughs actually balance the film out by allowing you to come out of the fight or flight response that the horror creates. That lull into a more relaxed mode by laughing can actually enhance the next batch of scares or brutality by widening that gap. In many scary movies it’s not just a barrage of intensity meant to skew the entire experience. You have upbeat moments or maybe just some general story telling. Every now and then you might even find the slightest hint of character development if you’re lucky. But a good horror movie does have to balance out your expectations in order to bring you back around to that heightened response of fear. When you are laughing, you’re not only in a more relaxed mental space, you’re more unprepared for the suddenness of certain stimuli. So the idea of combining horror and comedy is a real crowd pleaser when it’s done well. The problem I think I’ve found is this umbrella has gotten to be a bit welcoming for films that should otherwise be left out in the rain. Some things get grandfathered in and we’re pretty ok with those. Nostalgia adds a lot of leeway. So if it was meant to be scary in the 80’s but now it’s kind of funny too, we’ll give it a pass. Come on in here you wacky Killer Klowns. Sometimes a series starts out scary but decides to work in funny down the road. The first Nightmare on Elm Street was truly more scary than not. It was definitively the intent as well. Sure, Freddy can be a bit crass at times and is considerably antagonistic. But he is really going more for the true fear than the laughs in his first outing. But his second outing they really tried to capitalize on it substantially. His snarky demeanor only grew throughout the franchise as he enjoyed taunting his victims more and more as each sequel piled up. Sometimes the jokes hit. But a lot didn’t. Chucky went the same kind of route. He even tipped the scales after his first three films to where he was probably more comedy than horror. But he still managed to keep the body counts up and the brutality front and center. By the time he was done with Seed of Chucky, He was ready to bring it back full circle to far more horror driven films with his particularly twisted sense of humor as more of a character trademark than a crutch for a not-so-scary movie.

I think it’s important to highlight this symbiotic relationship between horror and comedy because I feel like a lot of films that are just bad or were low budget so they leaned into the comedy a little harder to supplement the fact that they didn’t have the cash to be a legitimate studio film. This is one of those movies where it feels like they knew the production value would be limited so they wanted to prop it up a bit with some well placed cameos and pad the rough edges with the disguise that the movie was also meant to be funny, of sorts. I might be launching an unnecessarily harsh attack against this movie but I think when I have seen some really good horror movies that still ball on a budget, as they say from time to time, I don’t know why we have to settle for something that’s tantamount to getting the gang together for a weekend and with a camcorder and loose dialogue. I know that having Kane Hodder, aka Jason Voorhees in several installments, Robert Englund, Freddy Kruger himself, and Tony Todd, the Candyman incarnate, all in your movie lends a certain level of credibility. But at the same time there’s no credibility to lend. All three of these guys are legends but they aren’t without a price point. And even if they were in this movie because they believed in it and did it out of the kindness of their hearts, it still doesn’t actually make this movie any better. The fact that there are two other movies in this series and a third that acts as some sort of spinoff or something is amazing. Now I know there’s an audience for this. There’s a fan base that loves these movies and I am super happy for them. I love the idea of The Gingerdead Man. The first movie has Gary Busey and that always makes me laugh. It’s a legitimately horrid movie. But there’s a part of me that loves it for the the joke of it all. I own both the Attack of the Killer Tomatoes and the Return of the Killer Tomatoes. I get why these movies exist. This one just didn’t do it for me. And because of that, the 87 or so minutes that this movie existed were just painful. It was an excuse to film boobs and guts. That’s it. And for some, that’s more than enough. I think going through this endeavor I appreciate that when that mood hits and you want something cheesy and low budget, movies like these are perfect. I have a handful myself that I’ve mentioned that scratch that itch. But I think the key component here is you have to really be in that mood. And it’s not one that calls often, even in the middle of the spooky season. Frankly having watched a number of films across nearly all the decades of past century or so, I can tell that there is the ability to put together a viable horror movie no matter what the place in history and what the budget. John Carpenter is renowned for putting together some incredibly iconic films that were strung together on shoestring budgets. It can be done. Creativity is what fills in the gaps successfully. This film just doesn’t have that and I don’t think they were ever really looking for it.

I’ll ease up now as I’m not trying to just beat this movie into the ground. I promise. It’s not my intention to crucify the film “Hatched” on some undeserved cross where I assumed this would be the new Scorsese film. Though I didn’t necessarily know what I was getting into, I think I still probably knew even when I put it on the list. It’s not that I’ve seen EVERY horror movie out there. But I have watched a lot. And I’ve seen most of the staples. So in having to look for movies that fit my qualifications, I’ve had to visit wells I’ve not typically gone to in the past for my movie nights. I don’t think I fully appreciated all that would come with that when I started this. I think as I’m closing in on my last week of the month I do have a very different perspective at this point. I’m sure I’ve gone at least 30 days of straight movie watching before. Honestly I don’t know what my longest day to day streak of movie watching rests at but I’d have to imagine that it could easily be longer than 31 in a row. But when you’re talking 31 straight horror movies that I’ve never seen before, that end of the pool can have a LOT of different things in it. Especially because I’m still trying to watch movies I’ll enjoy. This isn’t a punishment. It’s meant to be a fun little experiment. And it is my first time doing it. I think there’s a bit of a learning curve I have to take away from it and movies like this help build a strong profile. So I do have to give credit to that. If this film popped up in the middle of some horror marathon someone was sponsoring it wouldn’t cause me to pack up my things and go home. The movie didn’t offend me or push my sensibilities to the limit. It was just cheesy garbage. I burned 90 minutes but I could have done the same on TikTok realistically so I don’t have any real beef here with Hatchet. I can easily say it won’t find it’s way into my Amazon cart. Nor will I feel the need to check out episodes 2 and 3 in the series. I’m ok stopping where I got done with this one. Perhaps I’m missing out. It would seem I’ll never know. But that’s ok. As hard as I’ve been on this one, if I’m coming around to my senses and can evaluate this movie fairly, I’d give it a 3 out of 10. It’s fun to see those horror icon cameos. There were some decent practical effects on some of the kills. There’s just not much else to make this movie particularly watchable outside of that. If you’re in the mood for something that’s supposed to be scary and funny but also more modern and low budget doesn’t bother you, this one might strike your fancy. But if you’re looking to have a real movie night and not some Mystery Science Theater 3000 evening with your buddies, steer clear of Hatchet. I think that surmises it for me so I’ll wrap it up there. Until the next time we meet, I’ll catch you on the flip side.

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