Thursday, October 30, 2008

Halloween Week 2008: The Burning/Hatchet

Already behind a in an attempt to cram as many recommendations as I can I will have two posts with four suggestions today. The final review coming tomorrow, Halloween morning. Enjoy.

The Burning is nothing special. How's that for a reason to rent it? Okay, it does have one thing going for it: gore. Here is a typical American slasher film, with typical results, and yes, despite the infamous "raft scene", it has typical gore. I only say that because other 80's slasher films were just as gory, it's just that nobody remembers them because when they got to video (during the whole 'video nasties' era) they were chopped to hell as if Jason himself took a machete into the editing room. The Burning is unique and kind of infamous for being the first movie the Weisnstein Bros. produced, and for having early sightings of actors like Jason Alexander, Fisher Stevens, and Holly Hunter.

The story: In the New York and New Jersey areas there is a famous legend of a man named Cropsy who terrorizes campers. Of course he only does this because, SPOILER ALERT, he was teased as a child at the very same camp. No way! Okay, so the story is a wee bit uninspired, in fact it's typical 80's slasher fodder, but the "raft" scene is pretty damn cool if you can find it. I think there might be some clips of it on youtube, and rumor has it that even though the recently released MGM version on DVD says it's the complete uncut version....apparently it's not. But I haven't seen it on DVD, so I can't say one way or the other.

The film is a Halloween recommendation only for those of you that like your slasher films, because well, this one is better than any Friday the 13th movie, and it has Tom Savani the gore master in charge of dispersing the blood and guts. Plus it's fun to watch Jason Alexander play the cool guy. His overacting is amazing.

Overall if you REALLY want a slasher film to watch, and you have already seen the original Halloween and don't like foreign horror films, well then try to find The Burning, it won't disappoint with it's copious amounts of blood and gore and cool villain with a great name. Seriously, Cropsy that's a great slasher name. The original title was Cropsy's Revenge. I would have gone with that title, it sounds a lot cooler.

If The Burning was kind of an above average 80's slasher, then Hatchet is an above average toungue-in-cheek 21st centtury horror film. In the wake of Eli Roth's uber snarky Cabin Fever (which I have to admit made me laugh a lot....I mean come on: Pancakes!) Adam Green released Hatchet, a film not at all unlike The Burning. Hatchet is also about a killer in the woods named Victor Crowley who may or may not be an inbred monster from Hell. It's irrelevant really because the film is just one big excuse to get horror icons in cameos and kill lots and lots of people. Freddy Kreuger, Jason Vorhees, and Candyman all make appearances (okay, well the actors that played them) and really Green's film is just an exercise in reminding the audience that the filmmakers are in on the joke too.

Despite the films obvious flaws (the acting is horrible, although the actor from Trippin' is in it, so all is not lost) Hatchet does have some faint semblance of charm. If you were a child of 80's slasher films or just a rabid fan of the genre, then the film will probably entertain you the same way Cabin Fever did if you were a fan of the Evil Dead pictures. The film is extremely gory and pretty good in the entertaining department once the teenagers get away from the Mardi Gras set piece (and gratuitous nudity) and get on the boat that spells their doom. I think Green had The Burning in mind when he made this film, because much like The Burning, Green's film uses buckets upon buckets of violence and gore in an attempt to seperate itself from your average slasher; Hatchet was also heavily re-edited after its initial release where it was slapped with the dreaded NC-17 rating for violence and gore.

So there ya go. If you want a decent one-two punch for slasher films on Halloween night, and you've seen everything else, these are two decent, if not flawed, additions into the genre.

Both The Burning and Hatchet are available on DVD. The Burning can often be found late night on IFC.


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