“I’m Paul Barlow, and this is my daughter Jo.”

“Malone.”

“You got a first name?”

“Yeah.”

Victor Crowley

VICTOR CROWLEY is part 4 of the HATCHET series. Despite the title it’s not any kind of a reboot or a prequel or anything. Part I-II director Adam Green made it secretly and surprised fans with it at an event advertised to sound like a tenth anniversary screening of the first one, and it’s very much designed as a fun time for dedicated fans of the series and the people who buy t-shirts of Green’s dog  and stuff.

So the fact that I didn’t love it shouldn’t scare fans off, because it’s not really for me. I really liked part III, a final girl vs. slasher standoff cranked up to 11. This is more in the tradition of parts 1 and 2, with the quirky character business, broadly cartoonish performances and occasional over the top chopping and splattering of bodies, done with a scream and a wink. Also you got your cameos by horror people, though some of them just in cell phone footage this time.

It’s ten years after the events of parts 1-3 and the supposed lone survivor of the 40+ person swamp massacre – paramedic Andrew Yong (Parry Shen [BETTER LUCK TOMORROW], who played different characters in parts I and II) – is the subject of public suspicion, despite being exonerated of the crimes in court. Like Loomis in Rob Zombie’s HALLOWEEN II, he appears on a sleazy day time talk show and does a book signing of an exploitative new memoir and has a dishonorable publicist (Felissa Rose, SLEEPAWAY CAMP, RETURN TO SLEEPAWAY CAMP) and gets confronted by family members of victims who blame him. But then he’s promised big money to return to the swamp with a TV crew, so he reluctantly boards a private jet full of goofy characters.

(By the way the talk show host, Sabrina [Krystal Joy Brown] is also his ex-wife, and it plays like that’s supposed to be just the funniest thing you can imagine, so I assumed this was some character I forgot about from the other movies and that it would make more sense with that context. But I looked it up and that’s not the case. Weird.)

Meanwhile, three youths, Chloe (Katie Booth), Rose (Laura Ortiz, Ruby from THE HILLS HAVE EYES) and Alex (Chase Williamson, JOHN DIES AT THE END, THE GUEST), are headed to the swamp with tour guide/wannabe actor Dillon (Dave Sheridan, GHOST WORLD, THE DEVIL’S REJECTS) to film a proof of concept trailer for a movie about Victor Crowley (as you may know from his podcast The Movie Crypt, Green enjoys giving advice to aspiring horror directors). Their voodoo chants seem to revive the ghost of Victor Crowley and the plane crashes nearby and a bunch of people get axed, etc.

The character Victor Crowley is designed to be a throwback slasher icon, with a backstory that’s a little Jason, a little THE BURNING, but with voodoo (like Chucky), and he’s a ghost, although he’s always depicted as a physical being who can be mutilated and stuff. He’s played by famed Jason-portrayer Kane Hodder under lumpy Elephant Man-esque makeup. When I saw part 1 I didn’t like how much moaning and screaming he did, but I guess I don’t really mind anymore. Whenever he shows up it gives the movie a burst of energy because he tends to just run in like a berserker and smash and chop everybody. He doesn’t do any slow stalking. He’s the fast zombie of slashers. There doesn’t seem to be any method to his madness except that he enjoys when body parts are removed from bodies and when blood sprays out of people as if from a fire hose. There’s a certain gory joyousness to it, honestly. And I kind of like Green’s lack of respect for the storytelling convention that you don’t have like five characters who seem to be building up as real characters but just out of the blue die some horrible death.

But I think a jolt of anarchy like that is most effective when it’s invading an organized structure, throwing the world of the routine and the polite into chaos. The HILLS HAVE EYES factor. I still feel that, like part I, this is an homage to the obvious part of the slasher movies we love that ignores the underlying mechanics. Once again there’s little chance for them to be picked off one by one, since most of the characters spend half of the movie together in a big group on one small set. That said, the airplane location at least has interior and exterior and cool ways to shoot Crowley through windows. so it’s a major improvement over the small patch of fake trees that stood in for an entire swamp the first time around.

The tone is a little bit Eli Roth’s comedy tangents, a little bit Troma. Jokes about dicks and butt sex and stuff, sometimes amusing. The character of Dillon comes across as the most aggressively “look at me, I am a funny character being funny” at first, but ends up getting the most laughs out of me. I guess he won me over in the scene where a burnt, bug-eyed corpse falls from the sky and he makes everyone wait while he checks its pulse before declaring it dead.

In my opinion this one is not full-on horror, it’s a horror-themed comedy. With the exception of the opening scene, which goes for laughs but also some tension with the killer being heard in the distance while comedian Jonah Ray proposes to his girlfriend, I never felt like Green was trying for any actual scares.

Well, I guess there was this part. I loved this shot:


But generally the characters and conversations are more about setting up jokes than ever asking you to take anything seriously.

That’s fine. Not my preference, but it’s allowed. It probly played better with crowds, but I didn’t hate it, so I’m sure some people will really enjoy it.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Thursday, February 8th, 2018 at 12:09 pm and is filed under Comedy/Laffs, Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

15 Responses to “Victor Crowley”

  1. I will see this because the series, despite its many, many, many, MANY flaws, generally delivers on the joyous, showstopping gore in a way nobody else is really even trying to do anymore. Most horror filmmakers these days either want the gore to be disturbing, or they think Hitchcock would have turned up his nose at gore so they won’t use it (I disagree—I bet Hitch would have been thrilled to gross the fuck out of the audience if he’d survived into the splatter era), or they lack the funds/expertise to stop a show with it. So I appreciate where Green–a talented if unimaginative director–is coming from but the lack of Danielle Harris might be a problem. She’s just so goddamn likable that she provides a dramatic backbone for the two sequels that are absent from the filmmaking and the scripts. Somehow I don’t think “Guy I forgot was in the other movies until the special features reminded me” is gonna bring that same star power.

  2. I agree about Hitchcock. If he had survived longer, it probably would’ve been a constant duel between him and Dario Argento, about who could make the more violent, beautiful looking movie.

  3. I think horror movie nerds make for terrible writers and directors.

  4. I know what you mean. The problem is, a horror filmmaker is supposed to mine his/her own fears for inspiration. You can’t really do that when you’re totally in love with everything in your work that’s supposedly scary. I do think scariness is overrated as a factor when it comes to horror movies. I get scared by maybe two movies a decade, so by that metric all the others were failures. So I don’t necessarily mind when a horror movie isn’t totally devoted to nonstop terror and lets some other vibes in. I think it’s horror tourists who feel that horror needs to be totally serious and all about the scares at all times. Hence all these dreary ghost movies with lots of atmosphere but no personality. But it’s always nice when you feel like the filmmaker has some personal stake in the horror beyond “This is the kind of movie I liked when I was a kid so I’m making one that’s not as good as those.” I feel like that’s Eli Roth’s saving grace. He’s the definitive horror fanboy but at least you feel like he’s got some personal stake in the subject matter, no matter how boneheaded his take on it is.

  5. I’ve never understood the appeal of Green’s movies. I saw the first three Hatchets theatrically, and the third was the best one (easily). I watched VC the other night in complete shock. It doesn’t feel like a real movie. It’s like all the bad outtakes from the others all compiled into an unwatchable jumble. The entire thing feels arbitrary and like a study on what not to do when making a horror movie. And the scene where the guy pulls his pants down at the book signing … W H Y ?

  6. Adam Green is a shitty writer/director is probably why. Well I don’t think that is totally fair to say but I don’t think he is really all that talented. Joe Lynch is the talent in that friendship.

  7. I had a chance to see this one on Halloween night with Green and Hodder in attendance but ultimately didn’t go due to not being a big enough fan of the series, still scared from bad theater-going experiences, and that theater in particular has become a cess-pool or nerd-bros.

    As for fanboys making their own genre movies.. I mostly agree with Stern but I think what annoys me more is how the online community starts over-praising and pushing their movies because ‘They’re fans JUST like us!’

    Yeah but the movie is terrible…
    ‘But it was made by nerds JUST like us!!’

    I mean yeah I could just NOT listen to them…

  8. This has nothing to do with this review but Vern please do a review on recent VOD release of Kill Order. The movie itself is pretty dumb, basically Bourne ripoff, but the action is pretty damn good. I was bored and didn’t know anything about it but after watching the action scenes I looked up the director James Marks and found he was a stunt man/coordinator previously and this was his first movie as a director. Makes sense because the movie really comes alive during the action. If this guy can figure out how to make an actual movie around those fight sequences he might be on to something. At worst he could be a VOD action director to look out for in the future.

  9. Thanks for the tip Chitown, I will keep it in mind.

  10. Grimgrinningchris

    February 10th, 2018 at 4:35 pm

    Hmmm. I wonder why everyone seems to like 3 the best. Vern included.

  11. I won’t speak for anyone else but I for one enjoyed the third one the best because that one felt like it wasn’t up it’s own ass. Felt like it was trying to be the best movie it could be instead of a jokey fake-movie that you see on a character’s TV as a movie-within-a-movie as a quick gag. I have not seen this one yet but 1 and 2 came across as one of those ‘har har it’s SUPPOSED to be bad so we don’t have to try’ movies.

  12. Grimgrinningchris

    February 11th, 2018 at 6:53 am

    You’re right.
    And all of that is because it’s the one that Green DIDN’T direct.

    BJ McDonnell should have already gotten far more directing work off that joint alone.
    Granted that’s what got him the gig doing all of Slayer’s videos now. But that’s really it.
    He is still highly in demand as a steadicam operator and assistant DP on much bigger Hollywood stuff (he’s in Vancouver shooting Shazam right now) but I think he ought to be in the director’s chair a LOT more.

  13. I am a pretty big fan of all 3 HATCHETS and was really glad this mysteriously arrived!!

    Not sure how, in this mega digital day and age, they are keeping these movies so secret. The CLOVERFIELD one really came out of nowhere…didnt hear of that until its super bowl ad, and it came out about 20 mins later I think. I liked that too by the way…at least well enough.

  14. Just watched it. Not bad. I like this series in general more than Vern does, but in this case, the review 100% represents my sentiments.

  15. Saw it. It’s probably the worst of the series and definitely a step down from the third one, an actual pretty good movie, but it’s fun and fast and mostly likable. Good gore as usual but no real showstoppers. Green seems to plan these things as parts of a three-act trilogy, so this one would be the set-up, the next would be the complication, and the third would be the payoff. I hope he gets that far because otherwise this one feels a little slight as a stand-alone.

    That said, the story he tells in the special features about how he went through a dark time in his life and was ready to throw in the towel when George Romero took him aside and made him believe in himself again kinda won my heart forever. Green can seem kinda like the Brett Ratner of horror sometimes but he had some real talk on this disc that I could really relate to. I’m a bit of a sad clown myself so it gave the movie (all the movies, actually—I ran the series in reverse and they’re all a little better than I remembered) an emotional dimension I hadn’t seen before. Green ain’t the most gifted filmmaker on the block but I’ll keep supporting him. There aren’t a lot of horror lifers left, and even fewer as heart-on-their-sleeve as him. He’s no Master of Horror but not for lack of trying.

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