Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Hacking Away With Hatchet Leaves This Critic Wanting More ... Not in a Good Way!

Those fine folks at Anchor Bay are doing their very best to not only distribute low budget horror, but now are producing low budget horror. Their latest release “Hatchet” is set to hit shelves on DVD on December 17. Much like “Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon” “Hatchet” was not given a wide release. However, there was much hoopla surrounding the film in horror circles as the tagline boasted, “Old School American Horror.”

The problem here is that the only thing old school about it is the amount of tits in this film. They’re everywhere, and yes, I enjoyed Mercedes McNab (Harmony Kendall from Buffy the Vampire Slayer) perpetually topless, but too much of a good thing is what it is and isn’t enough to distract from the fact that there is so little story, too much coincidence and a really shitty monster.

The premise is that Ben (Joel David Moore) is hopelessly broken up about his girlfriend since jr. high breaking up with him so his friends take him to Mardi Gras where he can’t even enjoy streets seemingly paved with boobs. Instead he wants to take a haunted swamp tour. Against his better judgment, Bud from The Cosby Show (Deon Richmond) joins him. There they meet a would-be Joe Francis played by Joel Murray, his two topless bimbos, a woman who believes her Dad was murdered by the deformed Victor Crowley (our lame monster), and the bumbling tour guide (Parry Shen).

There is no plot, just backstory for each character, and the fact that they’re all on the same boat together. Of course, once the boat crashes into a rock and they all must seek land, our story kicks into high gear and we find out about the deformed Victor Crowley who caught a Hatchet to the face while his Dad was attempting to rescue him from a fire. Now he’s trapped in the night he died and there’s little that our hapless victims can do to stop the inevitability of their fate.

The gore in this film looks okay, but the monster is just not scary, nor does he have a backstory that separates him from the pantheon of 80s movie monsters. There is nothing new here, and way too many continuity errors to just simply enjoy it. To add to my point about nothing new, “Hatchet” even panders to the idea of old school by using cameos from Robert Englund and Tony Todd, and electing to use Kane Hodder as their monster. Homage is nice, but I’d like to see a horror film that is just simply a horror film, not needing its predecessors to give it street cred.

The DVD has been packaged in a nice two-disc set that features the theatrical release, as well as the unrated directors cut, and there are also some nice extras that include commentary, interviews and some behind-the-scenes stuff. I didn’t make it to any of it as the theatrical release left me needing lots of time before I could ever revisit it again.

It’s not that the film left me mad … again, lots of boobs and gore, but not enough to save it from itself. Going back to where I started, it’s refreshing to see that Anchor Bay is really trying to create rather than just distribute, but I’m sure there was a much better script laying on someone’s desk somewhere.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Legion of Superheroes DVD Is Fun, But No Futuristic Extras

The fine folks at Warner Bros. have begun releasing their hit show Legion of Super Heroes on DVD with the release of Volume One recently and I’m here to say that it’s a whole lot of fun. This was something that I had missed on Cartoon Network, but was eager to see how it turned out as the Mark Waid run on the newest Legion series was a whole lot of fun and had me becoming a bit of a fan of those teenaged super heroes in the future.

Volume One contains the first four episodes and a featurette about moving the Legion from the page to the small screen. I desperately wish WB would put these things out in seasons, but for whatever reason they seem to think this format works better. It’s a bare bones DVD, but the selling point should be the series itself, and the four episodes that are included here, the first four, are a lot of fun.

The set up in the first episode is great in the Legion coming back in time to retrieve a young Clark Kent who isn’t even Superboy, let alone Superman. The joke in there is that the Legion has traveled back in time too far, but given time Clark will surely become the (super) man that he is destined to be. What’s fun about this is that Clark takes off to the future, being reassured that they can drop him back off before Ma Kent even knows he’s gone. I loved this element because it felt sort of like Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends having that sweet apartment that turns into their HQ. I felt like the possibilities were limitless.

However, within these four episodes, Clark never does go back home, and that whole element seems to have disappeared. Clark leaving his time and saving the world only to get back in time for dinner in each episode would have been a nice touch, but alas it was just a way to get Superboy into the future.

Now, that’s not to say that it isn’t a great time while he’s there. It seems that Legion of Super Heroes has found a way to be a great, fun, kids’ cartoon without being as silly as Teen Titans or Krypto. It seems to fall somewhere in between the aforementioned shows and Justice League.

The show itself is something that parents can watch with their kids and have a lot of fun doing it. WB and DC are really doing a great job of bringing some rather obscure characters to animated life with some success, and Legion is no different. Again, I can’t help but think the DVDs could have packed a little more punch, but I guess four episodes at a time appeals more to the demographic of kids getting Mom to buy a reasonably priced DVD as opposed to the comic collector and DVD-ophiles who need it all. But here’s hoping the first season finds its way into a nice collector’s package soon.
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