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Hatchet II

A technically superior but equally grisly sequel to the 2007 cult fave.

Cast:
With: Danielle Harris, Tony Todd, Kane Hodder, Parry Shen, Tom Holland, R.A. Mihailoff, AJ Bowen, Ed Ackerman, Alexis Peters, John Carl Buechler.

Writer-director Adam Green offers another super-sized dose of bone-shattering, blood-splattering mayhem in “Hatchet II,” a technically superior but equally grisly sequel to “Hatchet,” his 2007 cult-fave homage to high-concept, low-budget ’80s slasher pics. Outrageously over-the-top gore doubtless will scare off all but the heartiest genre aficionados (pic will open Oct. 1 without an MPAA rating). But despite or perhaps because of that, this follow-up should enjoy somewhat longer theatrical exposure than its predecessor before making a killing as homevid and VOD fare.

Picking up precisely where “Hatchet” ended, “Hatchet II” kicks off with a resourceful heroine warding off a murderous attack by Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder), the horribly deformed bogeyman who previously killed all other members of an ill-fated “haunted swamp” boat tour in the wilds just outside New Orleans. Marybeth (Danielle Harris, replacing the first pic’s Tamara Feldman) escapes from the clutches of the mountainous murderer and heads back to the French Quarter to seek aid from Reverend Zombie (Tony Todd), a voodoo shop proprietor — and, perhaps more importantly, owner of a tour-boat business — who knows all about Crowley’s history of violence.

Reverend Zombie agrees to lead a party of heavily armed hunters back to Crowley’s secluded home in Honey Island Swamp, so Marybeth can retrieve the remains of her slaughtered father and brother. But Marybeth must in turn agree to bring along her Uncle Bob — played, in a cheeky bit of casting, by vet thriller helmer Tom Holland (“Child’s Play,” “Fright Night”) — whose ties to Crowley may date back to the long-ago tragedy that triggered the transformation of man into monster.

Although he scores a big laugh with a darkly comic sequence in which an ax-wielding Crowley causes a spectacularly bloody coitus interruptus, Green noticeably tones down the softcore tickle and tease of his earlier pic. He also takes a bit more time to establish individual characters with a slightly longer setup. But these turn out to be, at most, minor variations on the original formula.

Once again, Crowley employs a variety of blunt objects and sharp instruments — and, occasionally, his bare hands — to hack, shred or just plain pulverize his luckless victims. Also once again, Green exaggerates just about everything — including the look of innards rudely ripped from people’s bodies — to better enable auds to laugh with, not at, his recycling of slasher-pic conventions.

The actors — including Parry Shen, returning as the twin brother of the victim he played in the first film, and Alexis Peters as yet another slasher-pic cutie who bares her breasts before being bloodied — go through their paces with admirably straight-faced seriousness.

Anyone who hasn’t seen the first “Hatchet” won’t get the joke when a swampland eccentric played by John Carl Buechler (another returnee) offers a suspicious-looking beverage to the distraught Marybeth. Like many other things in “Hatchet II,” the gag is best appreciated by viewers who already are fans.

Hatchet II

Production: A Dark Sky Films release of an ArieScope Pictures production. Produced by Cory Neal, Sarah Elbert, Derek Curl. Executive producers, Greg Newman, Malik Ali, Hamza Ali, Mark Ward, Andrew Mysko. Co-producer, Jason Richard Miller. Directed, written by Adam Green.

Crew: Camera (color), Will Barratt; editor, Ed Marx; music, Andy Garfield; production designer, Bryan A. McBrien; costume designer, Heather Allison; sound, Bobby Fisk; creature and makeup effects, Robert Pendergraft; stunt coordinator, Kane Hodder; assistant director, Craig Borden; second unit director, Jason Richard Miller. Reviewed at Fantastic Fest, Austin, Sept. 26, 2010. Running time: 85 MIN.

With: With: Danielle Harris, Tony Todd, Kane Hodder, Parry Shen, Tom Holland, R.A. Mihailoff, AJ Bowen, Ed Ackerman, Alexis Peters, John Carl Buechler.

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