Sunday, February 25, 2018

Nude Spectre Teenage Massacre: Blood Night: The Legend of Mary Hatchet (2009)

Blood Night: The Legend of Mary Hatchet (2009)
Rating: ***
Starring: Bill Moseley, Danielle Harris, Nate Dushku

One late night in 1978, a young Long Island girl named Mary gets shipped to an insane asylum after suddenly snapping out of nowhere and brutally murdering her folks with a scissor and, as the title suggests, a hatchet. Eleven years later, Mary got raped by a guard and gave birth to a stillborn nine months after, a bad news that reawakened Mary's homicidal streak, sending her off to a killing spree (in the nude, no less) that ends with her getting gunned down by responding cops.

Over time, this tragedy spawns a local urban legend, as word around town says "Mary Hatchet" still wanders the earth as a murderous spirit, looking for her lost baby and killing people who witness her presence. The more mischievous youths of this small community, however, opt to remember Mary's rampage by making a holiday out of it dubbed Blood Night, a mini-Halloween treatment where pranks, parties and horror flicks are a must.

In comes Blood Night '08, where we follow a group of teens enjoying the festivities, from drinking copious amount of alcohol and smacking red paint on unsuspecting female bottoms, to invoking the spirit of Mary herself via séance (at a cemetery tended by Bill Moseley as Graveyard Gus) and accidentally watching someone's parents' sex tape disguised as Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. It's all fun and games until they start to end up in multiple pieces. Could the ghost of Mary Hatchet be out to get them? Or is this the work of a rather nice plot twist walking around, wielding a pickaxe?

Blood Night is one of those slasher films that exists with a well-meaning goal of bringing its viewers the nastiest gore under the impression that it is a throwback of 80s bodycounters. In a simplistic way, it kinda does bring forth a nostalgic air as the gore and blood effects used for all of the kills here are done in amazing practical latex and the slasher attacks get more intense the further the story goes, resulting to an impressive bodycount in the end. There's even a cheesy explanation chucked in to answer why the killings are happening and why they're so brutal, something that gets connected with the film's decent twist that I sincerely didn't saw coming upon my first viewing.

The film's not without flaws, however, as it does take a while to get the present day massacre going after the blood-soaked gory opener, hobbling about half way into the movie before one of the teens finally gets messily snuffed and all hell breaks loose. This meant we get to spend a rather sizable time knowing our characters which would have been okay if these guys weren't so disposable, barely making themselves stand out as anything else other than one-note interchangeable lambs for the slaughter. In fact, Blood Night practically lacks main characters to focus on with how much the story shifts its attention from one set of teens to the next and the sheer number of casts definitely didn't help sort out who's who and why they matter in this movie. If anything of a consolation, though, fan favorite talents Bill Moseley and Danielle Harris brought out their best campy performances with their little roles, making them slightly more memorable compared to the rest.

With this, Blood Night is, by all means, just us following some shallow partygoers with beer and boobs in their brains getting killed eventually by something that may or may not be an angry naked urban legend. Nothing spectacular story-wise, but at least its tone has us enjoying their shenanigans and eventual demise, with all the hamminess and cheesiness conjured up for extra camp and a bit of T&A for that exploitative slice. As a bloody and chunky junk food horror film, it's nothing serious except how silly fun and deliriously easy on the eyes it can be with the right mindset. It's a simple slasher that doesn't beat around the bush with overly complicated drama or mystery, so if you just wanna boogie and see some hapless twits die under a hatchet, then this movie is all of that with a passion!

1 male had his jaw shattered with a hatchet
1 female gets a pair of scissors to the eye, face chopped with a hatchet
1 female had her neck twisted
5 orderlies killed (method unknown)
1 male head seen
1 female shot dead
1 male and 1 female beheaded (story, debatable)
1 missing baby (story, debatable)
1 male had his head split in half with scissors
1 female stabbed on the head with scissors (offscreen)
1 male decapitated with axe
2 males found with throat slits and stabs
1 male had his face slashed in half
1 female pickaxed on the back, disemboweled
1 male gets a hatchet to the face, forced unto a fusebox (flashback)
1 male gets a pickaxe to the neck
1 male killed, blood splash seen
1 female had a hand chopped off, killed
1 male pickaxed to death
1 female strangled to death
1 male nearly decapitated with a hatchet
1 female presumably killed
Total: 28 (?)

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Short Shear Terror: Sliced in Cold Blood (1993)

Sliced In Coldblood (1993, Scary Tales Segment)
Rating: **
Starring: Al Darago, Ilene Zelechowski, Robert Zelechowski

Have you heard of the 1993 zero-budget DIY horror anthology film Scary Tales? No? Well, no worries! Me neither. I did saw, however, it's middle segment Sliced in Cold Blood posted at a video streaming site as a standalone short and my gods, it's friggin terrible but, yeah, I couldn't stop myself from watching and enjoying it!

In this short, a husband suspects his wife of cheating and, wouldn't you guess, he is right! Catching her snuggling with another man, hubby goes crazy and kills them both before going out to kill some random people under the same day because finding about infidelity-equals-immediate psychosis, apparently.

With the first of three segments of Scary Tales, Satan's Necklace, had something to do with a cursed necklace that transforms its wearer into a woman-eating demon, and the last, Level 21, was more of a Dungeons and Dragons LARP shot on video, Sliced in Cold Blood is the middle child of this trio and the simplest one in case of plotting, featuring nothing more a random guy's sudden killing spree.

If anything, this short isn't all that original as, by it's release, we already have movies like Truth or Dare: A Critical Madness (1986) and Las Vegas Bloodbath (1989) predating its plot, but I will commend Cold for keeping it quick and easy, packing it with enough insanely crazy zero-budget effects for the more graphic yet cartoonish killings. The whole thing is really just leading to the spree, just quick excuse to get a collection of gory murders out to satisfy the inner gorehounds in all of us, so much so that the movie simply just ends with the shot of our killer hubby looking back at us. It's not getting any deeper than that but it could have been so much worse.

It's little watchable drecks like this why I always give anthology movies a fighting chance to entertain me as you never know if they're keeping something surprisingly fun among its other segments. (Saying that said other segments failed to entertain me) They say that what is great about anthologies is that if you don't like one story, there's always another that's bound to cater to your taste and this is exactly the case I have with the forgettable Scary tales (1993) and Sliced in Cold Blood. Then again, I am only covering Sliced as a short film since that's how I first came upon it and, as that, it's pretty passable to say the least. It's everything you'd expect from a zero-budget horror movie from hilarious acting and hokey effects so I if you swing that way and is more forgiving than I am, then by all means go seek out Scary Tales and see this as well as the other two self-proclaimed "scary tales" for your viewing pleasure.

1 male shot on the chest with an arrow
1 female had her throat slashed with a machete, hacked to death
1 male gets a machete ran through his head, exits to mouth
1 female killed with a machete
1 male had his head crushed until his eyes popped out
1 male had his head hacked with a machete, ripped apart
1 female stabbed through with a machete
1 male ran through and decapitated with a machete
Total: 8

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Huntin' Some Stags and Does: Death Do Us Part (2014)

Death Do Us Part (2014)
Rating: **
Starring: Julia Benson, Peter Benson, Emilie Ullerup

Ah, the backwoods! As feral as it may get at times, one cannot argue the beauty of nature and the serenity of it all so it I find it not all too surprising to see the great outdoors as an equally great spot for couples to hang out and, well, bond.

That is unless said couple's in a horror flick, then they should expect mutant cannibals and hockey masked revenants popping up anytime soon to ruin their time. Still, that would have been a way more swell situation than to be in this kind of horror movie.

On a nutshell, Death Do Us Part centers on a group of "friends" at a rented cabin for a Stag-and-Doe party as our main couple, Ryan and Emery, are gonna get married soon. As usual, everything isn't going to be peachy for most of them during this party as some of these "friends" are harboring little secrets, mostly something to do with infidelity, mental illness, drug money and one about being a suspected murderer? Anywho, it wasn't long (and by that I meant it took a while) before someone bites it, some dude in a sack mask shows up and these "friends" start to disappear and reappear dead, or simply gets knifed to death on screen, one by one.

I will admit, though, that despite its routine slasher flick plot and tiresome pacing issues, I will commend Death Do Us Part for writing its characters as more than your typical horror victim tropes, actually acknowledging them as adults behind their cliche characterization and giving them all a reason to act the way they are. These dimensions might as well act as red herrings for the film's little whodunit escapade, though the melodrama that came with them definitely felt cheesy and forced for most of the time, thus kinda ruining the flow of the mystery and the consistency of the movie's tone.

As majority of the plot focuses more as a murder mystery, the killings are moderately easy on the execution albeit bloody, most either occurring off camera to build tension, or are simple slays like knife stabbings. The film did go to more violent territories the crazier the situation becomes, leading to a gruesome finale that have lovers killing one another and a twist that, though again riddled in cheddary hamminess, did got me as I didn't foresaw that kind of curveball hitting me on the face. Sadly, I lost about half of my invested attention for this flick by then so the impact of this exploitative last act was pretty watered down for my liking, but I'll give this film some credit for trying.

Not a lot to say much for Death Do Us Part aside from that. I can tell it is attempting a more psychological whodunit approach the way it handles its characters, but the low budget, uneven tone and the eventual inclusion of B-grade slasher elements more or less lead this film into embracing its inner exploitation, albeit still uninspired. Can't say it's a bad movie deserving to be missed, but I got a feeling anyone who would pass this off will not miss much to begin with. Good for a single night's rent.

1 male hacked on the neck with an axe
1 male found dead with head wound
1 female knifed on the chest
1 male found stabbed on the gut
1 male knifed to death
1 female gutted with a knife, brained to death with a rock
1 male stabbed in the neck with a pen
Total: 7

Til Death Do We Part?: Honeymoon Horror (1982)

Can you-? Can you read it?
Honeymoon Horror (1982)
Rating: *1/2
Starring: Paul Iwanski, Bob Wagner, Cheryl Black

One night, a husband finds her wife canoodling with another feller in a vacation house at a secluded island and three things broke: a scuffle, a beer bottle, and a lamp which sets hubby and the rest of the house on fire. Nobody but the cheating couple got out, so they assume hubby is as dead as a door nail.

Yeah. Sure.

A year later, the wife, Elaine, returns to the same island with her then-affair-now-new husband, Vic, with plans to re-open it as a holiday getaway exclusive for honeymooning couples, with their first customers being three sorority sisters who all will be getting married the following day. The sisters' rambunctious, short shorts-wearing friends get to the island first to decorate the rooms before the newlyweds arrive, all the while an elderly (possibly mentally handicapped) handyman and an "English" maid assist them. Elaine has no qualms with all of this, but somebody else in the island does. Somebody covered in burns. Wielding a machete. I wonder who could it be?

Before long, the newlyweds make it to the island, people starts to get hacked up, the truth behind the fire worries Elaine, and I simply nod my head in fake excitement as this movie draws near its end. Whoopie-fuckity-doo~

How am I gonna put this? Try imagining a moldy cheese. The greener the better. Now put that cheese in a blender, as well as your hand. Any hand. Turn the blender on and get yourself a nasty cut or worse. Not feeling too good now, are we? Well, that's the same kind of feeling you'll be getting if you decided to watch this cheesy trash willingly in hopes of seeing a good movie, or even a so-bad-it's-good campy garbage! It reeks of greasy rotten fondue from the beginning until the very last minute and the more you put up with its shtick, the more you'll question yourself for doing it in the first place!

Bad acting is almost always a certainty for slasher movies and Honeymoon Horror definitely has this around the talent department. I can tell as during one scene where our conniving wife points out where her ex-husband "died" from the fire and she said this all with a nonchalant "matter of fact" tone. This, however, is nothing compared to the deranged scripting the movie is filled with and its "dying slug" pacing made sure that it will slowly slowly numb our senses to the point of melting into nothingness, unless it (inevitably) puts us to sleep. Sweet sweet sleep.

Any kinds of scares or suspense are reduced to the killer just skulking around the cabins in the shadows, taking his sweet time before going for the blow and eventually reveal the crispiness of his burnt complexion. It's often decent in terms of bloodletting, but with the majority of the film spent on cheesy scripting, backfiring comic relief and, again, pacing issues, the suspense being built (if there were any) kinda wears out before the kills could even happen. I also believe the movie was trying to pull the same shock factor as the reveal done with the better backwoods slasher The Burning (1981) by keeping the burnt killer hidden from the neck up until the climax. That would have worked if the wait was worth it since, unlike the disturbing melted mess that is the killer's face at The Burning, Honeymoon Horror's homicidal burn victim looks more like a burnt potato. An angry burnt potato. In a white shirt and khaki slacks.

From what I understand, Honeymoon Horror was made around a small budget of $50,000 and a good amount of ideas from the director were let go due to this budget restraint. I also heard that there's a print out there that has a minimized amount of cheesy humor and more focus on the scares apparently, but I'm yet to see it, nor am I really that desperate to start looking for it. Take it from me, folks. If there's any movie that may have prematurely set slashers back a decade or century, this is one of them.

1 female found hacked to death
1 female killed offcamera
1 female killed offcamera
1 female hacked to death with a machete
1 female hacked to death with an axe
1 female hacked to death with an axe
1 female gets axed in the head
1 male gets a thrown knife to the back
1 male dies from shotgun wounds
Total: 9

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

A House of Mildew and Monsters: The Flaying (2012)

The Flaying (El Bosque De Los Sometidos) (Argentina, 2012)
Rating: **1/2
Starring: Olivia Tykocki, Juan Sebastian Alvarez Windey, Celeste Subatin

My first Argentinian horror outing! This ought to be fun! (Hopefully.)

Taking place in the 70s, four teens were driving across rural Argentina on their way to an illegal car race when, after camping out for the night, they wander off one morning to explore the backwoods and discover an abandoned castle. Curiosity draws them inside the derelict, only to find living in there is a strange group of misshapen men who tortures and murders anyone unfortunate enough to enter their ruined home.

Clocking for only 76 minutes, The Flaying is an odd and trippy love letter to psychedelic 70s horror, preferably The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) and Bava/Argento Italian gialli. It isn't much of a movie with a strong plot per se but I find it more of a practice of nightmare horror as the further the story goes, the more it shifts away from the mundane to something bat-shit insane and confusingly fantastical.

This said, there's minimal dialogue to go around, most of it taking place at the first 50 minutes where the movie tries to build itself up like your usual countryside slasher flick. Relationships were established, characters get somewhat developed, and a choking and impending tone starts to linger about, though the repetitive interjection of nature shots and "walking scenes" for padding made the lack of scripting and budget a bit more obvious and distracting. Thankfully, after the discovery of the castle and one of the cast was found wheezing from something (a strong emphasis on "something"), The Flaying found a way to use these limitations to the story's advantage and the result is near effective.

The last act is where the film finally got to the horror elements and it is unsettling; everything by this point are mostly done through body language and The Flaying sort of becomes this small yet strongly expressive piece of Hell. Nothing makes sense apart from pain and torment, and the lack of explanation to where the castle's freaky inhabitants came from and why they are doing this just works in a nightmare logic sense. The make-up used for these demented residents are wonderfully done, more or less showing where most of the budget probably went to. The way they are portrayed, sickly thin and grimy, near-naked and flinching in movement, somehow makes up for the small and offcamera kill count in favor of creating it's "inescapable dream" atmosphere, and the very fact they live in a crumbling castle just heighten the grimness of this act, invoking claustrophobic uneasiness further triggered by the use of low-glow colored lights and a creepy animalistic score.

Top it with a strange last shot that most likely spells nothing but more trouble for our survivor and we get this flawed yet sinister looking indie foreign horror of our time. The Flaying may not do much as a solidly structured and well-paced story, but it delivers scares and creeps so, in its simplistic slow-burning way, it does the job quite alright. Not a bad 70s horror throwback from a country that isn't well known for producing horror flicks, so should you ever get a chance to see this, I say give it a go, especially if you're one who prefers a bit of psychedelia with your dead teenagers!

1 male found covered in cuts, left for dead
1 female had her fingers cut off with a knife, drowned in a tub
1 male found dead, covered in cuts and seemingly preserved
Total: 3

Friday, February 9, 2018

A Really Bad Case of Separation Anxiety: Daddy's Girl (1996)

Daddy's Girl (1996)
Rating: **
Starring:William Katt, Michele Greene, Roxana Zal

Bloody Birthday (1981), Mikey (1992), Orphan (2009) and now this? Dayum, kids! You scary! (Or at least trying to be scary in this case.)

Meet Jody Mitchell, the step daughter of Don and Barbara Mitchell and the titular Daddy's Girl. She likes dolls, doll houses and is obsessed with keeping her family happy and be the apple of one's eye, especially her new father's. This obsession would soon (and I mean very soon) devolve into murderous shenanigans and violent jealousies as Jody has a tendency to rid off those she believes are trying to separate her from her precious daddy. (Early example? Jody's school principal, who suggested getting her shipped to a state-run boarding school to fix her grades and behavior. Let's just say the amount of paperwork in her office finally got to her...)

Jody's situation becomes further frustrating when Don's niece, Karen, moves in with them for the Summer and becomes quickly suspicious of Jody's too-good-to-be-true nice girl behavior. Then there's the fact that Don and Barbara aren't doing too well with their marriage as Don's toy designs aren't selling, leaving Barbara the breadwinner of the family, a fact Barbara's own mother Jacqueline likes to nag about. With all of this, Jody's new family is far from perfect but she has her ways of fixing this and it involves fire pokers and meat mallets...

So, yeah. Tell me how many times you heard or read that before?

Daddy's Girl is without a doubt one of the more lackluster dive into the killer kids trope, failing to do anything new as a gimmick apart from covering itself in overcooked cheese. The story is predictable and unoriginal, which the same can be said for its minuscule killings, though what amazes me is how almost everybody in this film are that easy to swallow the obvious facade the titular killer kid is showing, even after some of her violent outbursts. Perhaps it's Gabrielle Boni's performance as Jody that makes the fake good girl act more obvious as she does it in a way like she's reading the damn script five feet away and exaggerates herself to hide this fact, but still, writing-wise, the movie clearly could have done better fleshing out these characters since it technically spent more time being a steady-paced drama thriller than it is as a slasher horror. (Or better yet, if they're gonna cheese it up like this anyway, why not throw in a couple more murders? After all, Jody seems to be getting the hang of doing one-liners ala Elm Street's Freddy Kreuger...)

Not a lot to go with here as you can see. Daddy's Girl's overly familiar route and easy execution just makes it more forgettable than anything, making the journey through this specific girl's damaged psyche and uncomfortable attraction to her papa not worth all the trouble. Then again, if you're tolerant enough to go through hammy routines you may have seen hundreds of times from better killer kid flicks, then by all means adopt Daddy's Girl for your collection. You might get a good laugh out of it.

1 male shot (dream)
1 elderly female crushed with a toppled book shelf
1 female knifed (dream)
1 female brained with a fire poker
1 elderly female had her breathing tube folded, suffocated
1 male brained with a meat tenderizer
Total: 6

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Go Back Where You Belong: Hunter's Blood (1987)

Hunter's Blood (1987)
Rating: ***1/2
Starring: Sam Bottoms, Kim Delaney, Clu Gulager

Being a big fan the Friday the 13th franchise, I tend to have a soft spot for backwood slashers. Good backwoods slashers. From classic titles like Rituals (1976), Bloodstalkers (1978), The Burning (1981), and Just Before Dawn (1981), to modern entries like Wrong Turn (2003), Severance (2004), The Tripper (2006), and Hatchet (2006). I love the simplicity of the plot, the craziness of slaughter, and the insane villains that come after our hapless thespians who, in turn, must survive the ordeal within one of the most primal locations in existence. All of this being said and if you're anything like me, then let me tell you about Hunter's Blood, an underrated 80s hicksploitation that is everything backwoods slasher and more!

Going out for a planned weekend of hunting and camping, David Rand (Sam Bottoms), his father Mason (Clu Galager), Mason’s best bud Big Al (Ken Swofford), Al’s brother Ralph, and Ralph friend’s, Marty (Joey Travolta) make the mistake of stopping by a backwoods bar for some beer and wise cracking at a waitress there, angering the not-so-friendly locals. (including a then-unknown Billy Bob Thorton!) Though the boys made it out fine after some fisticuffs, it is clear that the hicks wanted payback for what they did when the shit-kickers briefly chase our hunters on the road and, later that night as David and his fellow city slickers camp out, one of them notices that someone may have been stalking and watching them.

Things go further South (pun intended) that morning when our hapless hunters stumble upon the hicks' own camp while stalking a deer. The creeps wanted a rematch of sorts from their previous fight and Mason takes the challenge hoping that he, his son and friends will be left alone afterwards. Before the brawl gets any uglier, a pair of game wardens steps in just in time to arrest the hicks for poaching, saving our protagonists. That is for the moment as, while on their way back to town, the wardens are ambushed, murdered and mutilated by even more hicks, setting the caught hillbillies free to go after our main men to finish them off, killing Ralph and injuring Mason.

Now with their lives in danger, the remaining three able men decided to split up, two of them to carry Mason back to safety and get help while David goes to distract the hicks away. As the situation gets direr, the more David is forced to channel is inner survivalist to deal with the hillbillies and hopefully makes it out of the woods alive...

Hunter's Blood is essentially the survival classic Deliverance meets proto-type Wrong Turn with a bit of early "reverse slasher" plotting, in which the lead is the one killing off their would-be murderers one by one. It is far from your casual "teenagers getting killed in the woods" gimmick as the protagonists are mostly grown men, but it did factor enough classic slasher backdrops such as doomsayers warning our group to leave because of a possible danger, and too the sizable stalk-and-kill action that, while lite on the actual bloodletting, often goes a little step further post-kill by showcasing some nasty gooey corpses, this including the horrible fates befalling on two game wardens and one bumpkin who gets all twitchy after a blast full of lead to the face.

It's direction is solid and well-paced, helping build the story by focusing some of the quieter and slower moments on our five protagonists before the murderous hunt begins. The scripting for these parts, albeit can be cheesy a few times, has a slight touch of realism to them that makes our five city boys flawed yet established characters. The same can't be said for our killer rednecks, though, as while they do look far more normal from the over-the-top inbred slasher hicks popularized by the Texas Chainsaw Massacre or Wrong Turn movies, they eventually act like your typical "city folk" hating psychos who won't hesitate giving buck shots and butt rapes to anyone who crosses them wrong. Still, I find this far from distracting since their large count did help create some neat tension and suspense as any of them can simply pop out of nowhere to do harm.

The only flaw I can argue about Hunter's Blood would be how cheesed up the last act was (even more than it already is) with David's wife being thrown in the action just for the purpose of making her the dumb bait, thus further prolonging the finale in an unnecessarily hammy way. We got evil lairs, a supposed big boss that gets killed way too easy, and a groan inducing open ending that spells nothing but further trouble soon after, but it could have been worse (so much worse) so it is rather forgivable as it was still entertaining.

An underrated little gem worthy of any slasher fan's collection, Hunter's Blood might be a little slow and tad different plot-wise from your average backwoods hack-a-thon, but it definitely delivers a decent killcount and even welcomes a bit of realism to create a workable tone. It's no Deliverance but if you're up to some B-flick madness to go with your survivalist movies, then this ain't half bad of a watch!

1 male shot with a shotgun, later found skinned
1 male shot with a shotgun, later found decapitated
1 male shot with a shotgun
1 male stabbed on the throat with a hunting knife
1 male shot with a shotgun
1 male had his face shot off with a shotgun
1 male brained to death against a carhood
1 male stabbed on the back with deer antlers
1 male strangled to death
1 male shot with a shotgun
Total: 10

Friday, February 2, 2018

Return of the Bayou Butcher: Victor Crowley (2017)

Victor Crowley (2017) (AKA "Hatchet 4")
Rating: **1/2
Starring:  Parry Shen, Kane Hodder, Laura Ortiz

It all started in 2006 when director Adam Green introduced the world Hatchet, his very own love letter to 80s slasher flicks which showcased the ungodly demise of a tourist group stranded in a Louisiana swamp with deformed killer, local legend and supernatural swamp butcher Victor Crowley. With great gore and strong camp, this cinematic carnage brought upon a favorably fun cult fan base dubbed the Hatchet Army who, of course, demanded more.

And more they did get as two sequels follow Hatchet, one in 2010 and another in 2013, each taking place precisely the night after the last film, offering a little more insight to how and what makes Victor Crowley ticks, and, by all means, Crowley delivering the splashiest kills as possible. But last we saw him, Victor was melted away by his own father's ashes, a magic supernatural hooha that appears to work, before getting his remains blasted away by one angry Danielle Harris. Didn't this meant the end for ole' Hatchet Face?

Well, we're here again, aren't we?

Cold opening in 1964, we get a slight taste of what to expect for this entry as we watch two lovers on a row boat hilariously proposing their love for one another before being spooked by a ghostly howl. Reaching shore, they're jump scared by a random fisherman but before we get the typical "you kids shouldn't be here coz this swamp's cursed" spiel, a large figure that is none other than Victor Crowley decapitates the old man with a hatchet and sticks said weapon unto the boyfriend's face. After a brief chase, Crowley eventually catches the girl and gorily dismembers her with his trusted weapon, all with a growl and a thunderclap behind him. Good stuff, but I can see some issues right then and there. We'll get to that later...

After a brief recap of the Crowley legend and the killing spree he committed from the first three films, we now set ourselves to the present, ten years after the three-night Honey Island swamp massacre to be more exact. (turns out the entire first trilogy happened at 2007 despite the original film being released in 2006. I guess some continuity can be bent to follow the "divisible-by-five years later" cliche) Survivor and paramedic Andrew Yong (Parry Shen) milked the fact that he lived through the swamp man monster's last rampage and made himself look like the hero who defeated Crowley by writing a book about it. A few people praises him, a lot of people accuses him of being the Bayou Butcher, and he more or less humiliated himself by appearing on his ex-wife Sabrina’s (Krystal Joy Brown) talk show and gets verbally beaten down. Unfortunately, shit's about to get worse when Andrew reluctantly agrees to do an interview in the same swamp where all of the murders happened in exchange of a really large sum, only for the plane taking him and the interviewing crew there go crashing down from a freak turbulence that nearly killed all of them.

And by "nearly killed all of them", I meant most of them survived while two pilots get mangled, one guy gets sucked out of the falling plane and another gets torn in half.

Fortunately (or, maybe not), a trio of film students and their guide were visiting the swamp to do a B-grade slasher based on the Crowley murders and were having some difficulties reciting a supposed voodoo curse that created the swamp butcher when they notice the crash. As the kids split up to look for help and check for survivors from the dilapidated plane, they unknowingly left a Youtube playlist of the voodoo curse playing, thus bringing old Hatchet Face back from the dead, just as pissed off as ever.

Secretly filmed behind fans' backs, Victor Crowley was a surprise sequel that almost nobody knew coming and I, much like most Hatchet fans, was excited to see more of Crowley's eternal rampage around the slushy alligator-infested swamp he calls home, wondering what kind of crazy antics he will get into this time.

Well, the answer to that is a solid "eh". Basically, Victor Crowley is small part standalone film and many parts sequel, which I honestly find rather underwhelming despite finding the movie entertaining. The fact that it is called "Victor Crowley" and that it takes place in the present instead of another day following the last movie gave this franchise an opportunity to start fresh and have our beloved overpowered deformed freak do away a new set of dumb victims. To be fair, it kinda did that on the side, but most of the film had us following a running gag character's misadventure back in the same haunted swamp that he swore never to go back to again. It's fine and all as it still got me chuckling at a few jokes until some of them overstayed their welcome (PA System gag, I'm looking at you. Four was enough...) and I can tell this is a labor of love for the fans (Adam Green really loves his fans) but I can tell some newcomers to this franchise might need to catch up with the rest of the series first to get at least half of the gags and references made here.

I will, though, give Victor Crowley and Green their due as the premise and director were at least interesting. At some point, the movie tries its best to recapture the rightfully balanced gore-soaked campiness of the original Hatchet only with a more sly meta tone to it, not unlike how Wes Craven's Scream franchise eventually started poking fun at itself with the introduction of its fictional film with film franchise called Stab. In turn, a lot of the writing works here (probably more if you know the entire Hatchet series by heart), spending at least a good forty minutes or so building around the casts, what they think about the events that happened from the previous movies and the predicament they will soon find themselves in. It definitely has a stronger comedy approach but the direction shows that it mostly (Read, "mostly") knows when to drop the jokes and dwell into the horror in the right time.

From this, Parry Shen makes a pathetic yet understandable protagonist out of his character who was technically just a walking, talking wink-and-nod to the audience up until this point and I'm glad to say I wanted to see more of this role now as a solid character. The rest of the casts also did fairly well from Sleepaway Camp's Felissa Rose in a much more comical role as Yong's opportunistic agent who spatted out some pretty funny lines herself (and gets one of this franchise's most cartoonish deaths) to Scary Movie (2001)'s Dave Sheridan as a comic relief swamp guide with an aspiring dream to become an actor, a rather fitting creation to this film's campy tone. (Albeit a bit too cheesy at times for my liking) I do felt scream queen Tifanny Shepis' was a tad underused, though, as her character mostly spent in one place slowly succumbing to her possible demise. Anybody could replace her for her role and it kinda shows some of the more damaging flaws of this Victor Crowley movie.

Now, the Hatchet trilogy is well known among the horror community as that slasher series that puts the blood on "bloody" and the gore on "gory"! The imagination, the make-up, the splatter effects and the gallons and gallons of fake blood are where most of the money and focus fall in with the first set of Hatchet movies and it shows from one kill unto the next. In Victor Crowley, though, the kills were noticeably cheaper as the latex body parts look rubbery and the blood resembles more red paint than the classic corn syrup splatter, which doesn't add anything better to the fact that most of the "Crowley" action here takes place within the fallen place, making this movie less like your everyday run-and-hide slasher and more of a survival flick that can get a bit frustratingly repetitive. Still, I will give this movie for trying to maintain the level of "splatstick" mayhem it sets itself upon right at the beginning of the entire franchise, which is commendable for its dedication and somewhat impressive given the smaller budget it has to work with.

Victor Crowley is certainly the weakest movie in the Hatchet franchise for me but I can't say I completely dislike it for its flaws. It has its hits and misses, sure, but it is far from the worst thing to happen for a modern cinematic monster like Victor Crowley and I'm sure it will find an audience to love it more than I do. In fact, I believe it already does! Hatchet Army?! Raise your hatchers and hold on to your pieces! Coz Victor Crowley's back!

1 male decapitated with a hatchet
1 male gets a hatchet buried into his eye
1 female dismembered with a hatchet
1 male gets sucked out of a falling plane, lands burnt
1 male found mangled from plane crash, tree branch smashed through his face
1 male found mangled from plane crash, smashed face-first against control panels
1 male found torn in half
1 male had his face pulped, head pried off via hammer claw
1 male had his scalp sliced off with a hatchet
1 female skewered with her own torn off arm
1 female had her head stomped
1 female drowned
1 female decapitated with a hatchet
1 male shredded through a plane turbine
Total: 14

So, how about those monsters?

While I love myself a good masked maniac, the inner kid in me still love monsters, so much so that I have to drag myself to finish that overhyped anime Godzilla movie in hopes of finding something to enjoy from it, only to be disappointed and figuratively punish my inner kid with a good spanking for wasting my time.

(In case you didn't get any of that, I wasn't impressed with Godzilla: Monster Planet (2018).)

Well, browsing a bit over Youtube, I came across this trailer for a video game adaptation I wasn't made aware of until this day.

So, we got Dwayne Johnson playing another overly muscular scientist in another movie where cities are about to get leveled down by an unusual disaster, this time being giant monsters. Now I did "kinda" enjoyed San Andreas so I guess I will be looking into this? Most likely I might enjoy it if I keep my hopes low enough, not unlike my feelings for the upcoming Jurassic World sequel which I am TOO excited for!

It's friggin' Chris Pratt rescuing Blue from a dying island! What's not to be excited about?!

On the other hand, the new Pacific Rim movie will be out hopefully this year, but I can't help but feel a bit nervous: too many flashy colors and the bots look and move awfully cartoonish. (I mean, yeah, the Jaegers at the first film sometimes look silly, but they move like how aging war-battered machines do. I guess the sequel's bots are newer so they move more fluidly? I dunno...)

It looks like 2018 will be packing some good-looking monster flicks and I guess this should keep my inner kid happy after all the spanking I gave him. Thought I should share my thoughts on these non-slasher trailers as it's been a long time I've done something like this. Here's hopin' and prayin' for a good monstrous year!