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John’s Horror Corner: Victor Crowley (2017), Kane Hodder returns for the gory Hatchet IV.

April 7, 2018

MY CALL: My least favorite of the franchise—and it pains me to say it. But there is still much gory fun to be had in the second half of the movie even if it fails to measure up to its lower-budgeted predecessors. MOVIES LIKE Victor Crowley: Of course see the first Hatchet (2006), Hatchet II (2010), Hatchet III (2013) and the Friday the 13th (1980), Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) and Wrong Turn (2003) franchises comprise the more serious suggestions—being that these are the movies being lampooned.  But Final Destination 5 (2011), Piranha 3D (2010), Piranha 3DD (2012), The Hazing (2004) and Tucker and Dale vs Evil (2010) seem to better capture the flavor of Hatchet.  For more gore-geared hilarity, try Drag Me to Hell (2009) and The Cabin in the Woods (2012).

Part III SIDEBAR: The last film closed after Marybeth (Danielle Harris; Halloween I-II, The Black Waters of Echo’s Pond) presented Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder; Friday the 13th parts VII-X, Hatchet I-III) with his father’s ashes and watched him melt to death, shooting his decrepit remains as she succumbed to her own tree-impaling. The first three movies took place over the course of a total of three consecutive days (like Friday the 13th parts II-IV). We learned that every day Crowley begins (i.e., reforms) anew until reunited with his father by the hands of the bloodline of those who killed him. Convoluted curse, if you ask me! But those are the rules as we’re told.

Writer/director Adam Green (Frozen, Hatchet I-II) returns to the director’s chair for the fourth and perhaps final installment of the Hatchet series. With him, be brings minor horror icons Felissa Rose (Sleepaway Camp), Tiffany Shepis (The Hazing/Dead Scared, Sharknado 2) and Tyler Mane (Halloween I-II) to join Parry Shen (The Hazing/Dead Scared), who returns to reprise his third role (Andrew the survivor/paramedic) in as many movies after playing the part II’s brother (Shawn; killed) of part I’s tour guide (Justin; killed). Only now, Shen has risen to the lead role.

Flashback to Parry Shen in 2006.

Franchise Timeline SIDEBAR: Over the course of three films (2006-2013) we came to learn that, because of a curse, Victor Crowley would respawn every night in the swamp of his origin—which is why he kept coming back to life after nonsensically unsurvivable deaths. Part III ended the curse, but much as the comical demonic resurgence in Ash vs Evil Dead (2015-2018), a Youtube video reciting the incantation resurrects Crowley yet again—now ten years after the three-night massacre (of parts I-III).

Much like part II (and III), this sequel opens with a brutal, gorily sloppy opener. Crowley is back to his favorite tactics of mass-dismemberment and yanking limbs from their arterially-spraying sockets. It’s silly, it’s gooey, and I love it. But, also like part II, this opening scene does not forgive the exceedingly boring 40 minutes that follow before the gore and action kick back into gear. Despite having by far the biggest budget of the franchise (about $7M, dwarfing the $1.5M next biggest budget of part I), its delivery is clearly the weakest and, honestly, I thought the budget was below $1M as I watched. The dialogue might be yet weaker than before, and somehow most of this highly budgeted sequel takes place in a pair of weakly designed and ill-utilized airplane sets (interior and exterior).

Although my least favorite of the series, there is fun to be had. Brutal head-stomping, squishy face-hammering, scalping, decapitating, limb-severing… and a woman is “violated” by her own severed arm. Yes, it’s fun. But after the outstanding third franchise installment it just doesn’t measure up to what we’ve come to expect. Not even close.

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