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Hatchet II -- Film Review

"Hatchett II"

The Bottom Line

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Trumpeted as the widest unrated release of a genre film in more than 25 years, "Hatchet II" earns bragging rights with buckets of giddily over-the-top blood 'n' guts in sequences that are as gratuitous as they are amusingly ridiculous.

Like his 2007 bargain-basement-budgeted original, Adam Green's sequel is a gory goof on classic '80s slasher movies.

But though he clearly is reveling in sticking it to the MPAA -- the first installment was subjected to trimming after initially receiving an NC-17 -- his movie feels less like a tribute to the architects behind Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers and Freddy Krueger and more like an ode to Lloyd Kaufman, of Troma renown.

With its fanboy-approved cast of iconic horror players headed by an entertaining Tony "Candyman" Todd, plus that uncut allure, "Hatchet II," while no "Saw" nor Machete," could build on its compact cult following.

It's being released in 20 major markets by AMC Theatres, under its AMC Independent moniker.

Picking up precisely where the original left off -- albeit with a different lead actress -- the sequel finds heroine Marybeth (scream queen Danielle Harris) fighting for her life in a Louisiana swamp, where deformed bogeyman Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder, who donned Jason's hockey mask in four "Friday the 13th" movies) has savagely murdered a boatload of tourists.

Shaken but undeterred, Marybeth enlists the aid of voodoo-shop proprietor Reverend Zombie (a comically theatrical Todd), who puts together a ragtag posse to take vengeance on the monstrous Crowley while carrying out a personal, not-so-secret agenda.

Although writer-director Green doesn't exactly display a notable individual style or promise in either capacity and would seem to have little regard for traditional horror elements such as, say, tension or suspense, neither is it a hatchet job.

He demonstrates a palpable affection for the genre he's lampooning, and darned if it isn't infectious.

Fright aficionados likely will find the decision to swap the original swamp-location shooting for obvious studio sets boosts the Velveeta factor, but a who's who in horror is admittedly fun, with Kaufman, "Fright Night" director Tom Holland and make-up effects veteran John Carl Buechler among them.

Meanwhile, that visceral overkill would seem to pay tribute to another cult favorite in the field: Godfather of Gore Herschell Gordon Lewis and his 1972 splatter classic "The Gore Gore Girls," which, incidentally, was branded an X by the MPAA.

Opens: Friday, Oct. 1 (Dark Sky Films)
Production companies: Dark Sky Films, ArieScope Pictures
Cast: Danielle Harris, Tony Todd, Kane Hodder
Director-screenwriter: Adam Green
Executive producers: Greg Newman, Malik Ali, Hamza Ali, Mark Ward, Andrew Mysko
Producers: Sarah Elbert, Derek Curl
Director of photography: Will Barratt
Production designer: Bryan A. McBrien
Music: Andy Garfield
Costume designer: Heather Allison
Editor: Ed Marx
No rating, 96 minutes