What’s the most violent film you have ever seen? Hostel? Saw? Final Destination, perhaps?
I have recently watched a film called Hatchet and its sequel Hatchet II. They were released in 2006 and 2010, respectively, to widespread fame in the horror community. The first film was selected to be shown in certain horror film festivals for its somewhat satirical take on the ailing slasher genre. The film tells about the fictional urban legend (that is not redundant, because the urban legend was fictional) about Victor Crowley, a severely deformed man who was accidentally killed with a hatchet by his father who was trying to save him from a fire in Halloween night. Years after the incident, people started disappearing in the swamp where the Crowley house stood. They say that if people get close enough to the house at night, they could still hear Victor, crying for his daddy.
The first film was marketed as old school American horror. You know, kinda like those popular slasher movies of the 80s that feature psychopathic serial killers who stalk off their victims one by one. Well, I don’t think majority of Hatchet or its sequel is in any way classical, aside from the fact it does conform to some slasher conventions.
Anyway, what’s really striking about the films is the amount of violence they contain. They are probably the most violent commercially released films I have ever seen. While the violence overtones were used more towards a comedic effect, it is still very disturbing to watch certain death scenes which are not censored in any way.
I have compiled a chronological, complete death list from the film (Warning: Spoilers):
1. Sampson. Killed off-screen. Body severely mutilated.
2. Ainsley. Body sliced in half.
3. Jim. Chopped repeatedly with a hatchet until body is sliced into pieces.
4. Janet. Grabbed by the mouth and face ripped in half.
5. Doug. Head twisted 180 degrees. Decapitated.
6. Shawn. Leg chopped off, decapitated with a shovel.
7. Jenna. Face pressed against a belt sander, body stabbed against shovel handle.
8. Misty. Killed off-screen, body chopped to pieces.
9. Marcus. Arms torn off.
10. Ben. Killed off-screen, arm torn off.
Total Body Count: 10
Hatchet II (2010)
1. Jack. Choked (with his own intestines) until decapitated.
2 – 6. Random Guys in Flashbacks. Grabbed and killed off-screen, head sliced into two with hatchet, jaw forcefully removed from mouth, front part of face sliced off, face stabbed with a spear.
7. Chad. Sliced in the face with a hatchet.
8. Cleatus. Face pressed against motorboat propeller.
9. Layton. Decapitated while having sex.
10. Avery. Crotch hit with a hatchet, hatchet through the chest (with a bit of nudity).
11 – 12. John and Vernon. Sliced in half from the balls upwards.
13. Justin. Stabbed at the back with a flying hatchet, belt sander pressed against back of head until brain exposed, brain crushed.
14. Trent. Stomped at the back of the head while mouth pressed against table. Head is split into two.
15. Bob. Killed off-screen (in a fountain of gore).
16. Reverend Zombie. Sliced into two after being chopped repeatedly with a hatchet, body forcefully removed from the skin.
Total Body Count: 16
I do not actually condemn these kinds of films, and I actually enjoy them to some extent. However, the release of these kinds of films tells us something about the way our society is changing.
While some films featuring extremely violent scenes were already being released since the 1960s, they were often billed and labeled as exploitative. It is only in the recent years that violence in movies are gradually being accepted by the society as normal. Violent films are now getting mainstream commercial releases, and are being enjoyed by many moviegoers worldwide like any other film. On a grander scale, this shows us how society is transitioning more and more from conservatism to liberalism.
Are the Hatchet films any different from other exploitation films? I don’t think so. Strip away from them all the violence and gruesome death scenes, and the films won’t have anything left of significant value to attract audiences. Though they are being marketed as a modern take of slasher horror or other similar taglines, in the end, it really just boils down to torture porn.
And I absolutely love it!