Starring: Danielle Harris, Kane Hodder, Tony Todd, Parry Shen
Picking up scene-for-scene where the original Hatchet left off, we find Marybeth (Harris) trying to escape the grubby clutches of Victor Crowley (Hodder). Despite all odds, she gets away, so traumatised that she's inexplicably turned into Danielle Harris from off've Halloween. She escapes the swamp and finds her way to Reverend Zombie (Todd), the man who apparently knows why Victor has such a grudge against her and her family.
In a case of blatant sequel syndrome, Marybeth decides that she needs to go back into the swamp to finish off Victor and recover the bodies of her dead father and brother (killed in the opening moments of Hatchet, if you'll recall). Zombie agrees, putting together a crack team of Hillbillies and guns-for-hire, offering them money for Victor Crowley's head. Along the way, another welcome flashback to Papa Crowley (Hodder) and some further family history. There's a voodoo curse and again, I wanted just to give ol' Crowley Sr. a big hug. Poor bastard had a life as miserable as Amanda Kreuger's or that of Mike Myers's stripper mom.
If you hated the first Hatchet, then you'll find nothing to change your mind in Hatchet II. The characters are all unsubtle screamers. Even the dodgy pacing issues are there. But the inventiveness of the kills has been improved. There's no two deaths the same, with a whole variety of tools unloaded into Crowley's victims' unsuspecting faces. Harris is a slightly blander brand of heroine than the predecessor's Tamara Feldman, but she's mostly kept out of the way in favour of the cannon-fodder characters. Parry Shen returns as the twin of the previous movie's Shawn (very Crank 2, that) and Tony Todd's role is vastly enbiggened. Never mind Danielle Harris, he's the true hero of Hatchet II.
It's a fantastic bit of schlock and awe. Heaps of fun and with plenty of gore and inventive kills, Hatchet II is a brilliant bit of fast-food slasher nonsense. You wouldn't want it for every meal, but it feels very good in small doses.