31 Screams in October, Vol. 4, #13: Hatchet III (2013)

Posted: October 13, 2018 in Movie Review

Amaray Wrap.EPS

Director: B.J. McDonnell

Starring: Danielle Harris, Kane Hodder, Zach Galligan, Caroline Williams, Derek Mears

I sense that a theme has developed. Several times already, I’ve reviewed films which can be classified either as unnecessary sequels, or as stand-alone stories which would get along just fine without a studio-mandated continuation. “Hatchet III,” as the title suggests, is the third in a series of films which has served as a loving tribute to the slasher films of the 80s. The first two in the series served their purpose well. “Hatchet II,” in particular, deserves more love than it gets. Sadly, as eventually happened to all the slashers of old that “Hatchet” emulates, the act’s gone stale.

We revisit Marybeth Dunston (Danielle Harris) right where we left her at the end of “Hatchet II,” having seemingly destroyed the monster known as Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder). Not so fast, as Crowley exhibits regenerative capabilities which would make Jason Voorhees (Hodder’s most famous role) jealous, surviving getting his head blown off to terrorize Marybeth some more. After another bloody battle has seemingly put Crowley down… at least long enough for Marybeth to escape… she heads for the nearest police station carrying evidence of her supposed kill. Naturally, this lands her in the pokey. Sheriff Fowler (Zach Galligan of “Gremlins” fame) has grown up believing the tale of Victor Crowley to be a myth, and so Marybeth becomes his prime suspect for the 20-30 murders from the first two “Hatchet” films. This has the unfortunate effect of leaving the series’ heroine sitting in a jail cell for the majority of “Hatchet III.”

While the sheriff and his merry band of red shirts go charging into the swamp to get killed off one by one, Marybeth is visited by Fowler’s ex-wife, Amanda (Caroline Williams of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2”), a self-proclaimed expert on Victor Crowley. Amanda claims she knows how to put Crowley down for good, but that only Marybeth can do it due to her father’s involvement in Crowley’s original death. Once it becomes clear that Crowley is not as dead as Marybeth thought he was, Amanda convinces a deputy to let Marybeth out, and the trio set off in search of the one thing that can supposedly stop Victor Crowley: his father’s ashes. So they get the urn, return to the swamp, everyone dies except for Marybeth and Parry Shen’s third “Hatchet” character, and Marybeth and Victor Crowley have their final showdown. I’m sorry, did I use the word ‘final’? Don’t you believe it! This series is never going to have a satisfactory conclusion!

Although not a consensus vote, “Hatchet III” has at least gathered more positive ratings from viewers than “Hatchet II.” Not from me. Whether it was the change in director from Adam Green (who stayed on to write the script) to B.J. McDonnell, a smaller collection of horror icons in the cast, or a general sense that the whole thing was being phoned in this time, I just couldn’t get behind this one. Admittedly, the fight between Classic Jason Voorhees (Kane Hodder, “Friday the 13th Parts VII-X”) and New Jason Voorhees (Derek Mears, from the 2009 “Friday the 13th” remake) was a bright spot. Just like Coca-Cola Classic vs. New Coke, Classic wins on any day of the week. I also laughed when the old racist joke about all Asians looking alike was used as a wink and nod to the fact that Parry Shen had returned as a character unrelated to his previous two ill-fated roles.

Very little else about “Hatchet III” inspires anything resembling enthusiasm. Even the death metal soundtrack, a “Hatchet” staple, grates on the nerves more than usual. For a series so concerned with paying respect to the 1980s, would it have killed the creative team to splurge for some 80s metal tunes? Would Ozzy Osbourne’s “Mr. Crowley” have been too obvious? There’s already a fourth film in the franchise, released in 2017. As some other horror franchises have done, this one dispenses with the original title entirely and instead is named “Victor Crowley” after the series’ monster. Even with the promise of Adam Green returning to the director’s chair, I still say I’ll pass. From now on, I’ll be doing with “Hatchet” as I have done with the “Alien” franchise: I’ll pretend the series ends after the second film.

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