June 17, 2011

Blood Night: The Legend Of Mary Hatchet (2009)

Directed by Frank Sabatella. Starring Bill Moseley ("Graveyard Gus"), Danielle Harris ("Alissa"), Nate Dushku ("Alex"), and Samantha Facchi ("Mary Hatchet"). Rated R. Body Count: 15 verified. Boob Count: 36.

Source: Region 1 DVD (Lions Gate)
Run time: 01:24:21
Country: USA

A night of debauchery for a group of twentysomething high-school kids comes to a halt when they find themselves falling prey to a mysterious killer that may or may not be an urban legend come true: Mary Hatchet.

BLOOD NIGHT begins with a stylish and lengthy opening sequence which establishes the titular Mary Hatchet (birth name: Mary Mattock). A young girl goes crazy for no apparent reason, cuts her hair, stabs the shit out of her mom with a pair of scissors, kills pops with a hatchet, and subsequently gets thrown in a mental institution where she stays for a number of years. As an adult, she's raped by a security guard and gets pregnant (one of the funniest rape scenes ever, by the way) but suffers a miscarriage. She once again loses her shit and goes on a warpath in the mental institution, killing anyone who tries to stop her. The last time we see Mary Hatchet (for now), she's butt-ass naked and holding a hospital worker's severed head while surrounded by cops, guns drawn.

Cut to almost two decades later, and a group of loudmouthed high-schoolers are prepping for the annual celebration that revolves around the local urban legend of Mary Hatchet: Blood Night. What exactly Blood Night consists of, I have no idea, but it's enough to rile up an entire town of high-school kids and cause some major stokage, brah. Once the characters are introduced, what ensues is a movie that reminded me a lot of the original NIGHT OF THE DEMONS, except an obviously updated version, and a slasher instead of a supernatural, demonic possession movie. We have a large group of fun but obnoxious characters throwing a house party with a theme that revolves around an annual event, a sexy dance sequence that does nothing for the story (but is always welcomed), tons of foul language and toilet humor, and a big turn in the story involving one of the party attendees and results in many people dying oh so gruesomely. Aside from all the shit I just mentioned, this movie is also similar to NIGHT OF THE DEMONS in terms of A) its energy and mood, and B) the fact that it doesn't take itself seriously. But, as far as quality? Well, that's another story.

Even though the story takes place in present-day and the film is undeniably modern from a visual standpoint, it has the feel and atmosphere of an 80's teen-horror movie in which the creative kills and obligatory female nudity take center stage over character development and substance. There's even a nod to a classic 80's horror movie, the title of which doesn't even need to be dropped once I mention the song from said movie that was used in BLOOD NIGHT: 45 Grave's "Party Time". All of that being said, I think fans of 80's horror movies (especially slashers) will at least somewhat enjoy BLOOD NIGHT, but is the mildly nostalgic feeling that this movie produces enough to overshadow its faults? Will I stop ending my paragraphs with question marks and get to the fucking point already?

Here's the thing (you know - "the thing"): BLOOD NIGHT isn't so much bad as it is really by-the-numbers. Personally, I found the characters to be pretty hilarious and ultimately not as obnoxious as I expected them to be once they were introduced as these ultra-douchey caricatures of high-school kids. But will most viewers find them to be annoying beyond belief? Probably. Initially I was a little disappointed with the glimpses of stylish filmmaking shown in the opening sequences being thrown out the window once the story cut to present day, but things like gelled lighting and a generally nightmarish look wouldn't have made sense if they were included in the party scenes; the film is visually flamboyant when it needs to be.

One thing that made this movie stand out (in neither a good or bad way) when compared to modern-day teen horror movies from the likes of, I dunno, Wes Craven was the dialogue. A lot of the party scenes (which take up a good chunk of the film's second act) seemed to lack any direction whatsoever, which can be seen as a bad thing if someone wanted to be overly critical of the movie, but I found it to be something that worked for the film. During the party scenes, people are constantly talking over each other and a lot of the dialogue seemed to be improvised. Danielle Harris's monologue about being gang-raped was delivered in a very conversational way as opposed to her "acting" it out. This particular mumblecore moment involving Ms. Harris didn't work as well as the scenes involving the other actors, but it still gave the impression that I was watching a bunch of real friends acting like morons and partying with a familiar actress who stuck out from the rest of the group like a sore thumb.

My only major complaint about the movie is something that I can't really talk about in detail, so I'll just say that when the movie takes a certain turn towards the end, even Andrea Bocelli would have been able to see it coming well before the story even hinted at taking a turn in the first place. So yeah, there's not much in the way of clever writing here, and the whole thing I said earlier about this film being reminiscent of horror movies from a decade that I hold close to my heart only goes so far with me; you can still be a throwback to 80's teen-slashers and have a good story to tell. Sure, there's fun to be had here and the numerous creative kills are impressive, but the film lacks a strong enough plot and the developed characters necessary to keep the average viewer interested.

On the plus side: hot naked ghost chick, one of the most impressive neck-snappings I've seen in a long time, Bill Moseley equals street cred, tits and ass and blood, and fans of Danielle Harris should be pleased with the fact that her role is more than just a cameo.

Score: 5.5


  1. This movie popped up on my radar after I did a horror release post for last Tuesday, but I thought it looked like a dud. I think the problem with the current low-budget slasher horror is that they treat every teenager like they're all mindless party animals, and it sounds like Blood Night paints the same picture.

  2. Haven't watched any by-the-numbers modern slashers lately, so will try this one out.

  3. I don't think I've heard of this one, Aaron. I'll look for it at the video store. Sounds like a good rental. Love the site banner, by the way.

  4. Thanks for the comments, everyone.

    Ryne: True, but to be fair, slashers also did that back in the 80's. I don't think there's a huge difference between a lot of the slashers released today and the ones that came out in the 80's, other than the fact that they're irrelevant now.

    Alex: I have a feeling you'll hate it.

  5. ... I will set my expectations real low then :) Thanks for the warning