Hack It to Pieces, Babe…

2007 saw a spooky series of ads warning us of the coming of Victor Crowley.  It was a creepy trailer.  Here, take a look:

That little kid’s delivery is just creepy.  The movie promotional materials promised a return to old school American horror.

What it delivered was more of a return to 1980’s horror.  It told the tale of Victor Crowley, born extremely deformed and cared for by his loving dad (both the father and adult Victor are portrayed by Kane Hodder-most famous in horror is one of the best portrayers of Jason in several Friday the 13th sequels), he was teased by the other children.  One year, some older kids tried to frighten Victor out of his house, but their prank resulted in Victor’s home being set on fire.  His father tried to break down the door with a hatchet-but was unaware a very frightened Victor was on the other side of the door.  Victor got a hatchet to the face and died.  Guilt ridden, his father spent the next ten years alone before dying.  And then Victor returned and staked a claim on the woods.  Noone goes into that part of the swamp-if they do?  They never return.

So, that’s a pretty good setting.  It makes Victor a tragic monster, which is very workable for horror films if done right.  The film follows Ben and Marcus (Joel Moore & Deon Richmond) who go on a swamp tour led by Parry Shen’s Shawn.  Also along for the ride are kind older couple Mr & Mrs Palmatteo (played by the very enjoyable Richard Riehle and Patrika Darbo), a girls gone wild type of producer (Joel Murray) and two girls he is filming ( Mercede McNab & Joleigh Fioreavanti) and the girl with the secret (Tamara Feldman).  Much of the early film is spent letting us get to know, and generally like the characters.  Ben is heart broken and drags Marcus on the tour.  Shawn is making things up as he goes along using a fake cajun accent (there is actually a running joke where Shen reveals about three different accents throughout the film).

The boat crashes forcing everyone ashore where they eventually run into Victor Crowly, who starts the killing right away.  And boy are they inventive.  This is a throwback to the 80’s where inventive, but low tech, kills matters.  Unlike Saw, it’s about the monster and his skill to kill.  Crowley is of the Jason mode, ripping off heads & limbs, stabbing and in…one scene?  Using a gas powered sander on a person’s face.

One the one hand, the throwback nature has a real been there done that feel-just amped up.  On the other hand, the characters are entertaining and for the most part sympathetic.

Why Victor is back from the dead, or why he seems unkillable is never really addressed.  Is he a ghost?  A walking corpse?  We don’t know, but you kind of forget about it.  It might have been interesting to see some kind of vestige of the sympathetic Victor.  The back story is pretty sympathy inspiring, so it would have been interesting to see if Crowley’s victims might have, at least for a moment, been able to appeal to the scared kid.

The films strengths are the carnage, which feels more raw than in some of the big screen remakes we have seen recently.  he humor works to the film’ s advantage as well.  There is a lot of good humor, partially because you have some real good and seasoned actors.  Seriously, Riehle and Darbo are totally lovable in their roles.  It’s rare to say that when speaking of a horror movie, but they are great.  Moore and Richmond also have a believeable friendship, both in their moments of support for each other and their bickering.

What really comes through is dierctor Adam Green’s passion for horror movies.  He loves the old gory stuff, and he has made an overall enjoyable little horror film.  The apparent joy and fun he and the cast and crew had is pretty apparent in the film.  It is not perfect, nor the height of greatness, but it is fun, and when it comes to a movie for watching around Halloween?  It works nicely.

The blu-ray looked great.  It was a nice picture, but did not feel to glossy either.  The special features are also fun, giving a lot of behind the scenes information, not to mention a charming little featurette about the friendship between Adam Green and Deen Snyder of Twisted Sister.

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