The task of reviewing Anchor Bay's upcoming Blu-ray release of Hatchet was a bit daunting. It has nothing to do with the disc itself other than the film that it harbored. I am not a fan of Adam Green's directorial debut and each and every time that I watch it, hoping against hope that my outlook on the film will somehow change, I find that I dislike it more. Luckily, in the court of Blu-ray review, opinion of the film itself is inadmissible. So I watched the film not once more but thrice more, on both Blu-ray and DVD; jumping back and forth to compare scenes. I came out the experience covered in blood and ready to bring you an unbiased look at Hatchet.
I've said it once, and I'll say it again, Anchor Bay shows more love to horror than any other distribution house around. Hatchet's high-def upgrade seems to suit it well, though it didn't really bowl me over. I think the enhancements born of upgrading a four-year-old film to Blu read more subtly than do those of a film from decades past. Last week's The Evil Dead Blu-ray, at the points where the superior film stock was used, was improved by leaps and bounds over the picture quality of its DVD counterpart. But with Hatchet, I don't think you are going to be dazzled by the difference.
I will say that the picture quality upgrade does add a desperately needed level of contrast. One of the things that frustrated me about the film initially is that it's overly dark and often hard to distinguish between a figure and a mass of trees. The Blu-ray tweaks the color depths to allow for this distinction and boosts the clarity.
As to sound, as with The Evil Dead, I feel this is where the Hatchet Blu-ray really shines. Hatchet's key draw is its splatter-tastic gore effects. This thing is awash in a sticky red tide of viscera and, like every great gore effect, the visuals and the foley play equally important roles in allowing Hatchet to be such a spectacular bloodbath. The amplified sound quality really allows for each individual sound element to be heard and if you have even a half-decent surround sound system, your ears will feast upon a symphony of arterial spray. If there were any part of this release that would greatly please director Adam Green, I would have to assume its the sound quality that reinforces the silly, goopey artistry of the kill.
The Making of Hatchet-- Insightful. Starts from the basement of the film and works its way up. Adam displays an admirable passion. Screen tests and phone calls to Robert Englund are my favorite part as we get to watch Adam geek out while nurturing this little horror film into life.
Meet Victor Crowley-- Proof that Kane Hodder did indeed work his ass off for this role. I've always felt he got more credit than he deserved when he coasted through the Jason films while getting so many kudos for his "performance." But in Hatchet, he throws himself into the part and watching him prepare for a scene just before "action" is called is as frightening as anything in the film. I also love the prank that Kane plays on Mercedes McNab that Joel David Moore caught on camera.
Guts and Gore-- Should be a favorite featurette for hardcore horrorphiles. Investigates the logistics of each seminal murder in the film. What I enjoy about this is that it spotlights often overlooked production designers who continually accomplish the impossible. The concession made on the power-sander kill was if the production designer could create a gas-powered version, that therefore could exist in real life, it ceased to be implausible. They are Di Vinci's of death.
Anatomy of a Kill-- Weird that this feature stands alone. Really just feels like a six minute continuation of Guts and Gore. One more kill is dissected but it feels like this was chopped off the end of the last feature to pad out the extras.
A Twisted Tale-- A very odd, clunky feature about Adam Green's relationship with Dee Snider. He talks about how inspired he was by the lead singer of Twisted Sister and how they've fostered a friendship through the years. The only thing I gleaned from this feature is that I desperately want to see Adam Green's early short films.
Gag Reel-- Obligatory but fun at points. Kind of supports the theory that the bad dialogue in the final cut of the film is the result of undisciplined ad-libs. Watching Joel David Moore throw up again and again redefines gag reel.
Theatrical Trailer-- It's the trailer.
If you are a fan of the film, I would recommend purchasing the Hatchet Blu-ray. It definitely looks and sounds better than the DVD, if only moderately as to the former, and comes replete with some cool features. I do applaud Anchor Bay for taking what is still basically a completely indie horror title and giving it the same loving care it provides to classic titles.