Blu-Ray Review: Hatchet (2006)



Ever since Anchor Bay started releasing Blu-rays, I have been bugging the folks I know there to put Hatchet out on the format. Not only do I just want all of my favorite movies in a high def format (I don't "upgrade" most titles, just all-time faves), but it's also a very dark movie, and the improved contrast/black levels that the format affords would be very beneficial to the film.

So now it's finally here, and AB does done their usual outstanding job on the transfer. Yes, it does have the unfortunate drawback of making Victor Crowley's makeup limitations a bit more obvious in closeups, but you can say that about pretty much any FX movie in high def. And, more importantly, the clearer image makes the practical work shine all that much more. When bad CG is transferred to high def, it looks even worse, and previously "good looking" CG will start to look fake. But here, with all of the kills being practical, you can truly appreciate the old-school approach to the jaw rippings, limb hackings, and belt-sander er, sandings.

Plus the movie is still a total delight, and I was happy for a good excuse to revisit it (especially with the sequel just around the corner). I know the humor was a problem for some folks, but it's "my" type of humor (dry, occasionally awkward), which isn't something I see in too many horror films period, let alone a slasher that was inspired by the very ones I grew up with and love (i.e. the early Friday the 13ths). Adam Green's the kind of guy who genuinely enjoys the older films, not in an ironic way (just check out his Final Chapter commentary with Joe Lynch if you have any doubt), and I wish more of the folks making slashers these days had that same sort of appreciation - most of them look down at the older films.

Also, while Marybeth is the sort of Final Girl (not really spoiling anything at this point, with Hatchet 2 just around the corner), I loved having a male hero I could identify with for once. In the few Fridays that a non-Tommy Jarvis male character survived, he was always this hunky but sensitive football hero type (and even Jarvis eventually became that kind of guy - what happened to his Zaxxon and monster mask obsessions?). And then they'd have these pathetic nerd types (see: Part 3's Shelly), or complete assholes, on the other end of the spectrum. They never just had a normal guy like Ben (i.e. me) - a lanky, average dude wearing a Newbury Comics shirt. And I'd also probably make a reference to The Thing if I ever managed to momentarily triumph over a killer, so my identifying bond with him was even stronger.

The Blu-ray carries over all of the previous (quite good) extras, including a commentary with Green and many of the stars, and a very informative making of, a look at the kills, Green's story about how he was inspired and eventually befriended by Dee Snider (a friendship that has lasted; Snider even officiated Green's wedding), and more. New to the disc is a recently recorded commentary with Green and Kane Hodder, who was not present on the original track. Some of the info is repeated, but it's a great listen. Since so many commentaries (including the old one) are recorded prior to the film's release, there's often a lack of reflection on the finished product/public reaction, so it's interesting to hear them discuss how the film has affected their lives (Kane, for example, gets far more "no makeup" acting roles these days, as a result of his well-received turn as Thomas Crowley in this film).

One caveat about the commentary, however - they were under the impression that the disc would be out after Hatchet 2's theatrical release, which didn't happen (Hatchet 2 will be in theaters - UNRATED!! - on October 1st). Thus, they do spoil some key plot points and even a major twist during this new track. So if you are spoiler-phobic, I urge you to hold off listening to this track until you have seen Hatchet 2.

But by all means you should pick up the disc, especially if you don't own the original standard def (or have the rated version). The new commentary and transfer are definitely worth the upgrade, and the more Blus that AB sells, the more likely it is they will put more effort into releasing their other titles on the format (come on, Halloween 4! And Cold Prey!!). And if you still haven't joined the "Hatchet Army", now is definitely the time to do so. Having seen H2, I can assure you, this is a sequel for fans of the original, and if you haven't seen it, some of the references and jokes will be lost on you. You don't want to feel left out!

Movie: 9/10
AV: 8/10
Bonus features: 9/10
Overall: 9/10

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