Welcome to The Last Horror Blog, a biweekly column on all things horror.
Resident Evil 6 begins filming this fall – In news that should be shocking to no one, director Paul W.S. Anderson has revealed that he’ll begin shooting the sixth installment in the popular Resident Evil franchise this fall. This should, in theory, put the latest entry right on target for its announced September 2014 release date. Anderson is a busy bee these days – the filmmaker is currently working on his Roman period piece Pompeii and will wrap that project up just in time to get back to the zombies that have made him famous.
Has Fox found its Victor Frankenstein? – With Paul McGuigan’s modernist take on Mary Shelley’s classic novel Frankenstein (featuring a script from Max Landis) due in theaters next October, it’s about time for the production to pick a Victor Frankenstein to star alongside Daniel Radcliffe’s Igor. It appears as though Fox has narrowed the search. According to sources, Boardwalk Empire’s Jack Huston and RocknRolla’s Toby Kebbel are the current frontrunners to land the coveted role. It’s interesting that the studio is focusing on two lesser known actors while Radcliffe is Igor, but maybe that’s because this is an updated adaptation. At any rate, a decision should be final soon.
I, Frankenstein headed to Comic-Con – It’s hard to believe, but the annual trip to nerd Mecca, aka the San Diego Comic-Con, is right around the corner. And while each year sees the Con become more focused on movies than comics, this year horror fans will have something to look forward to. Lionsgate will be featuring its upcoming horror film I, Frankenstein as part of its panel. The film will be sharing time with The Hunger Games sequel, and stars from both films will be in attendance. If you’ve got questions for the panel, you can submit them through the film’s Facebook page.
Telluride Horror Show Early Bird Passes Available – If you’re going to be in Colorado this October and are looking to catch a few horror movies while saving some money, this is the deal for you. The Telluride Horror Show, a three-day genre film festival in scenic Telluride, Colorado, has opened up sales for early bird passes to the event. Book now and get into 11 programs plus the swanky opening reception for the low price of $72! Act fast, though – only 50 passes remain.
As someone who loves throwbacks to the classic slasher films of the 1980s, I was mostly impressed with Adam Green’s Hatchet. The origin tale of swamp-based murdering mutant Victor Crowley was a slick homage to a bygone era – and a welcome respite from the deluge of remakes and angry Asian girl ghosts that were clogging up the horror marketplace at the time.
Hatchet, like all good slashers, begged for a sequel – but Green would go on to make Frozen instead. Eventually, though, the siren song of Victor Crowley was too strong to resist, and Green and company returned to the swamps for Hatchet II.
Like many great slasher sequels, Hatchet II picks up immediately where the first film ends. Fans of the original might be slightly confused, because Marybeth (played by Tamara Feldman in the first film) is now played by Danielle Harris – but once you get past that switcheroo (which is honestly for the better. Harris is always fun to watch), Hatchet II feels instantly familiar to fans of the first.
Green’s film keeps another sequel tradition alive and well – the one that dictates a sequel should be gorier and more over-the-top than the original. Hatchet II dumps buckets of blood on its cast by the time the end credits roll, and while not all of the FX work is top notch, the majority of it is sure to please genre fans who like their films bloody.
This tendency to wink and nod at the hard-core horror fans makes Hatchet II more fun than it probably should be. Green clearly loves the classic slashers and has gone out of his way to pay homage to them. The film’s cast is a veritable who’s who of horror cameos – everyone from Troma’s Lloyd Kaufman to John Carl Buechler to Joe Lynch turns up in this film (seriously, the list of cameos could be a review in and of itself. Half the fun of one scene is trying to spot everyone).
Yet for all these little nudges to fans, it’s hard to really love Hatchet II. Sure, it’s great to see Harris and Tony Todd and Kane Hodder doing their thing, but Green’s film tries to tread the fine line between comedy and horror – and it often lands firmly on the comedy side of the divide. The original Hatchet certainly had its comedic scenes, but Hatchet II goes for broke with it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t – and when it doesn’t, it tended to pull me out of the story completely.
Speaking of that story, Harris teams up with Tony Todd and a group of swamp hunters for a return trip into the marsh to eliminate Victor Crowley once and for all. Naturally, Crowley isn’t just going to lie down and die, so he makes sure to take a whole lot of people out of the hunt early on. Kane Hodder may not be Jason anymore, but he’s right at home as the hulking mutant monster – you wouldn’t want to run into Victor Crowley out in the swamp, that’s for sure.
Unfortunately, the back-and-forth tone of the film – which vacillates between gore and comedy – makes for a somewhat disjointed viewing experience. I don’t think Green ever intended for Crowley to be taken seriously as a traditional slasher film villain, but occasionally this film strays into territory occupied by the latter Nightmare on Elm Street sequels – you know, the ones where Freddy stopped being a monster and morphed into a lame comedian. Crowley doesn’t speak, so there’s no real worry about him cracking one-liners, but his kills – while violent and over the top – often feature punch lines that detract from the overall brutality. With a little less of that, Crowley could have been every bit as brutal and terrifying as Michael Myers in Rob Zombie’s second Halloween film. Instead, he’s more of a caricature than anything.
None of this is to say that Hatchet II is terrible – it just feels a bit schizophrenic. Gore comedies can be done well (see Peter Jackson’s Dead Alive for proof of how to pull that off), but it’s a really difficult balancing act. Hatchet II hits the mark in some instances, but it misses in many others. It’s hard to shake the feeling that Green might have been better off toning down the laughs and pumping up the horror, but maybe we’ll see that in Hatchet III (available now on VOD).
Horror on the Horizon
Not a lot of options for horror fans closing out June, but limited markets will see the debut of the Breakfast Club meets Dawn of the Dead flick Detention of the Dead this Friday. 100 Bloody Acres also makes its limited release debut on June 27 as well. I suspect it will be a very limited debut.
July is even slimmer pickings – there’s nothing for fright fans in the first week of the month.
Horror on Home Video
Things are slightly better on the homefront. The week of July 2 sees the release of the special edition Jaws set that was a Best Buy exclusive last year. So if you missed out, this is a good time to get reacquainted with Bruce the shark.
July 9 sees the arrival of a plethora of discs, but the standouts are a Blu-ray release of James Munro’s cult classic exploding-hobo flick Street Trash and the third season of The Twilight Zone.