His “Hatchet II” — shown briefly in this unrated version in AMC Theaters before being suddenly and unexpectedly booted — is made precisely for the growing fan base surrounding 2006’s original “Hatchet,” and nobody else. That film simultaneously sought to pay homage to (and even parody) the slasher anti-heroes of 1980s horror, while establishing a new icon for the genre in the 21st century.
This even grosser, grimmer follow-up gives its mutated villain, Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder), a backstory. As New Orleans shop owner Dr. Voodoo (Tony Todd) relates to heroine Marybeth (Danielle Harris), Victor was a bastard literally born cursed, which explains his massive facial deformities. He was accidentally killed as a child, and his father vowed revenge he couldn’t get, so a revived Victor seeks it.
Marybeth convinces Dr. Voodoo to take her into the swamp — Crowley’s stomping/slashing grounds — for revenge of her own from the first film’s events (where she was played by a different actress). He reluctantly agrees, but you know he’s got some ulterior motive. No sooner do they and their hired guns step foot on Crowley’s territory does the flick’s considerable carnage start.
Come to think of it, “considerable” may be an understatement. Once the story is established after a tad-too-long half-hour, the remaining running time is to make good use of the title tool and other implements, reducing the clueless cast members one by one, in some of the sickest yet silliest ways possible. For example, in the prologue, Crowley makes rather creative use of one unfortunate fellow’s intestinal tract. Much later, the male half of a copulating couple is decapitated, leaving his torso a-twitching, and his partner doesn’t even realize it immediately. In fact, she likes it.
As with its ugly big brother, “Hatchet II” takes gleeful advantage of not bearing an MPAA rating. In an age where many horror fans complain that films aren’t horrific enough, this sequel certainly delivers the goods, however gratuitous. That’s the point. Essentially, with Green’s casting, you’ve got Jason Voorhees squaring off against Candyman and the little girl from the “Halloween” sequels. If that’s not readymade for an audience weaned on slasher flicks, what is?
With “Frozen,” Green proved he could make a more mature thriller that held crossover appeal. With “Hatchet II,” he’s not exactly taking a step backward — just having fun. So long as you’re not among the faint of heart, join him. —Rod Lott