Friday, September 13, 2013

Worth Mentioning - Mondo Macabro

We watch several movies a week. Every Friday, we'll talk a little about some of the movies we watched that we felt were Worth Mentioning.

Cody watches Pakistan get in on the horror fun while the Bayou Butcher buries the hatchet.


Billed as "Pakistan's first gore film", this film purposely, closely follows the path of many horror films that have come before it.

The familiar set-up centers on five young people who give their parents cover stories then hit the road in a van (its exterior airbrushed with billboard images from classic "Lollywood" cinema) on a trip to attend a concert. Their drive takes them out of the city they call home and out into the Pakistani countryside. Despite encountering a Crazy Ralph-esque doomsayer who warns them that they're "on the road to Hell", disregarding news reports about citizens being stricken by plague and mutations, they continue on into an area where people are known to disappear from regularly.

As day becomes night, things gradually get weirder and more horrific for the youths as they run into more strange characters - in a scene reminiscent of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre '74 Hitchhiker scene, a man offers to ride with them to give them directions and then immediately starts demanding that they either give him water or he'll drain the blood from their veins. Then he pulls a decapitated head from the bag he carries, and that's the end of him being allowed to ride in their van. Also lurking in the countryside is an odd old woman, a horde of shambling, bloody zombies, and a burqa-wearing, blade and mace-wielding maniac called Baby.


A slasher with a dash of Romero-esque zombies and comic book-style transitions, Zibahkhana / Hell's Ground is writer/director Omar Khan's tribute to the genre movies that he loves from the '60s through the early '80s. A film fan who funded his own movie with the money earned from the ice cream shop he runs (and has packed with horror memorabilia) in Islamabad, Khan drew inspiration from and paid homage and gave nods to influences ranging from the aforementioned Romero zombie series, TCM '74, and Friday the 13th to John Carpenter's Halloween, the Universal monster classics, Maniac (1980), old Pakistani horror movies, Hitchcock's Psycho, The Evil Dead, Tobe Hooper's The Funhouse, and From Dusk Till Dawn.

Viewed as just another low budget horror movie filled with standard tropes, Hell's Ground is quite decent and enjoyable, with some impressive exterior night cinematography. The film becomes even more interesting when you delve into the extras on the DVD, the featurettes and the director's commentary, through which you really begin to realize that the movie has some intriguing insight on life in Pakistan and the youth culture as of at least the latter half of the last decade. There's information like the fact that the youths in the film would be considered "Burger Kids" in their country, young people who have been very influenced by Western pop culture and easily go back and forth between Urdu and English in their conversations. There's social commentary about the pollution in Pakistan, with only 5 to 7% of the population having access to clean drinking water. It's contaminated water that seems to be causing the zombie plague in the film, and it's clean water that the guy who briefly catches a ride with the kids wants so badly. 

Throughout the extras, Khan covers various other issues, from religion to politics to racism and gender segregation, as well as Pakistan's film industry-in-shambles. Zibahkhana / Hell's Ground is worth checking out, but it's the special features on the DVD that really make the release a must see.


Adam Green wrote the screenplay for the closing chapter in the Hatchet trilogy, but this time handed over directing duties to BJ McDonnell, who had worked as a camera operator on both previous Hatchet movies (and around a hundred other titles over the past twelve years).

Like 2 picked up directly from the end of 1, 3 begins at the exact moment part 2 ended, with things looking as bad for undead slasher Victor Crowley as they had for series heroine Marybeth at the end of the first movie. Marybeth got out of her situation, but Crowley sustains even more damage than we had previously seen, which had already been enough to make some viewers wonder how he could possibly recover for another sequel. As it turns out, Crowley's curse to exist as a "repeater", wandering the Honey Island Swamp every night, crying out for his long deceased daddy and killing anyone he sees, also ensures that no matter how much physical damage is inflicted on him during one night, he will completely regenerate to wander and kill some more the following night.

The police finally get involved this time around, and as officers and emergency responders go out to Honey Island Swamp to collect the bodies of all the people Crowley killed in the other movies and investigate the scene, the clock is quickly ticking down to nightfall and the moment when Crowley will rise again.

Hatchet III doesn't spend as much time on its set-up as the other ones did, which I'm glad for. A person who starts retelling the Crowley legend yet again even gets thankfully cut short. Twenty-six minutes in, "The Bayou Butcher" is back in action and the third killfest begins as he gets to work tearing and hacking his way through many paramedics, cops, and SWAT team members. 3 has the biggest bodycount yet, and among Crowley's potential victims are Zach Galligan (Gremlins), Sean Whalen (The People Under the Stairs), Diane Ayala Goldner (the Feast trilogy) and Parry Shen, playing his third different role in this series. Shen's characters in the first two movies were brothers, but his character in 3's resemblance to them is just brushed off with a "You think all Asians look alike, don't you?" joke.

Most notable among the actors in danger is Derek Mears as SWAT team leader Hawes (a name which comes from Jason Lives). Mears played Jason Voorhees in the 2009 Friday the 13th, so when his Hawes comes face-to-face with Kane Hodder, who played Jason Voorhees in Friday the 13th parts 7 through X, as Victor Crowley, it's a Jason vs. Jason scenario. Apparently fans like to ask Hodder and Mears who would win in a fight between them, I heard an amusing story of Hodder being asked that question at a Q&A  Mears was in attendance for and rather than diss the man who had inherited the role Hodder replied to the instigating fan, "How about we both drag you outside and kick the shit out of you?" I don't want to oversell their encounter in Hatchet III though, in fact I was disappointed by it. I expected some epic fisticuffs, but while this movie contains some of the biggest action moments in the series, Hodder vs. Mears is unfortunately not one of them.

While Crowley is making mincemeat out of more people in his swamp, our final girl Marybeth (Danielle Harris) largely takes a break from the violence, off in a subplot with Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2's Caroline Williams, who gives a great performance as a journalist who is certain she knows how to put an end to Crowley's rampage. If she's right, the key to ending the curse was right there in the telling of the legend the whole time.

In some ways, I still think the first Hatchet was the best of the bunch, in other ways I'm liking them more as they go along. The sequels have gory and disgusting deaths, but none that I feel have lived up to John Carl Beuchler's work on the first one, which may be a budgetary issue. I do like how they've progressively gotten more serious. Part 3 has laughs here and there, but it's the most serious-minded yet, a plus when it was the constant comedy of the first one that took it down some notches for me.

Now to wait and see if Hatchet will end as a trilogy, or if Victor Crowley will continue on like the slasher greats that inspired him.

No comments:

Post a Comment