Posts Tagged ‘Kane Hodder’

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One review I read called “Digging up the Marrow” something to the effect of “Adam Green’s love letter to horror fans”. I don’t know if that was paraphrasing or just plagiarism, but the phrase really does do a good job of both hooking a potential viewer and explaining the movie. I’ve always stated that I like movies about movies, and this one is a movie about making a documentary. It’s shot as a documentary, but it makes no claims of truth; we know we’re watching a scripted, acted movie. What is endearing and interesting about “Digging up the Marrow” is that everything except the main plot is reality. It’s a weird gimmick and admittedly one that will likely appeal much more to fan’s of Adam Green’s work, but I’m one of those guys and this review will be biased. Deal with it.

The movie is set in real life Southern California in the present day (2014), where horror director Adam Green (played by himself) and his production company are working on several movie titles as well as the next season of their horror-sitcom, “Holliston”. Before the action starts, Green receives a letter from a man that claims that monsters really exist and he has proof. The movie you’re watching, now, is the documentary that Green films to bring these monsters to the public. It starts innocently enough, with a highly skeptical but highly hopeful Green meeting with a slightly unstable looking William Dekker (Wise). The investigation progresses and the crew goes deeper down the rabbit hole because Green really wants to find monsters. As he (and other casual interviews during the opening) explains, it is every horror fan’s dream that these monsters, the stuff of their dreams, really do exist. Wouldn’t that be a great world? It’s what these guys make movies about and what we spend our hard earned dollars to watch. And so the film continues, with Green slowly taking over Wise’s role as the believer trying to get the truth out. The role switch is interesting and leads to some very entertaining and exciting moments. What really keeps you interested is how much you agree with what Green does. Usually in a horror movie the main character makes some dumb, cliché move, but Green knows all the cliché’s and he’s not following them. He makes some questionable decisions that you want to yell at him for, but then you put yourself in his shoes and… you’d do the same damn thing. That’s what makes “Digging up the Marrow” fun, putting yourself in Green’s position and thinking how you’d act.

A lot of the movie’s charm comes from it’s stabs at the horror culture and it’s denizens. We get a boat load of cameos, everyone from Kane Hodder (what Green movie would be complete without him) to Mick Garris. There are references galore to “Holliston” and “Hatchet”, and who doesn’t love the “Shinpads” posters? Okay, I’m getting a bit fan boy on you. But the whole movie feels like you’re at a horror convention. Lots of real people just like you who are just huge fans and want nothing more than to see some monsters and have a good time. There are plenty of jokes at the culture as well, but the film is just as quick to remind us of it’s good intentions.

“Who did your special effects?” is an entertaining theme from the movie. Of course it’s an ensemble crew, but special attention needs to be given to Alex Pardee, the twisted and beautiful mind behind “Digging up the Marrow”’s ‘monsters’. A very talented artist, Pardee’s work can be marveled at through a simple Google search. The guy isn’t really into gore and his creatures aren’t necessarily the most visually scary, but they are downright creative and awesome to look at. Whether the backstories given in the movie by Dekker are Pardee’s own or the work of Green’s imagination, they bring even more credibility to what you are watching. The art design in this movie is just so damn cool.

So visually, yea, this is pretty fun. Picture quality is good for what it is, a documentary. Same goes for sound. I’m not sure how much of this was really shot on low budget equipment and with on-location sound setups, but the movie was supposed to feel like a documentary and it really shines in that department. In this section I usually throw in a bit about any attractive women in the movie so I’ll give a shout out to Adam’s (ex)wife Rileah Vanderbilt, but that’s really, really not what this movie is about. We’re 100% focused on seeing monsters in the shadows, and we’re fine with that.

To close, “Digging up the Marrow” was a very entertaining way to spend a Friday with a few beers. The movie was not really reviewed well so I didn’t have many preconceptions, just an interesting story and a writer-director I knew I liked. While Green is no Don Coscarelli or Wes Craven, he certainly has his place within the modern pantheon of horror. It’s yet to be seen if he even wants to do something full blown “horror”, but for the time being I’ll keep watching “Holliston” and entertaining myself with his other flicks.

Story: 7

Visuals: 7

Fun Factor: 8

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Its about that time in Virginia where the cool air finally sets in for good and you can start building your kindling pile right next to the fire pit. When evening rolls around, you know it’ll be sixty-five degrees, and you’ll sit out and watch the sunset, watching the shadows descend… Yes, it’s the beginning on autumn, and that means the beginning of Halloween season. In light of the weather, I was very excited to finally receive Adam Green’s “Hatchet” in the mail the other day, so I wasted no time in popping it into my DVD player. Once in, I did take the time to go crack open a beer, but don’t get me wrong, that was no waste. “Hatchet”, as I would soon find out, is not so much “Old School American Horror” enjoyed best in a dark study with a tumbler of whiskey, but more an homage to “Old School American Horror” enjoyed best with six or seven beers accompanying its 80 minute runtime.

After thoroughly enjoying “Holliston” and his segment in “Chillerama”, I was dying to see what director Adam Green could do on the big screen (or straight to DVD screen). In the same vein as the aforementioned short-format pieces, what Green really excels in is making a goofy film that actually has some class. In the same way that Alexandre Aja made a really enjoyable movie out of the mutant creature/teen scream genre with “Piranha 3D”, Green takes the classic template for a slasher flick and turns it into a respectable film. For the masses, we still get gratuitous nudity, tons of blood and interesting gore, and stereotypical character types that are easy to follow. Green, like Aja, takes it one step deeper by poking fun at the template even as he is working from it while at the same time developing a more interesting storyline and more dynamic characters than is the norm. The result is a well crafted piece that has mass appeal due to its inherently ‘slasher’ nature, as well as fan appeal from subtleties such as Tony Todd as a voodoo tour guide and the names of cast and crew on gravestones in the old New Orleans cemetery.

Contrary to the standard chum in slasher flicks (“Scream” being the exception), the cast of “Hatchet” is very solid, especially given its lowly origins. Joel Moore leads the ensemble, and after making a name for himself in comedies like “Grandma’s Boy” and “Dodgeball”, takes a darker and more dramatic role in “Hatchet”. He does the part justice, playing the bit slightly awkward but loveable at the same time. Tamara Feldman doesn’t give exactly the most brilliant of performances, but her role and character really help to cement us into the ‘slasher’ architecture. Genre fans will love cameos from Robert Englund, Tony Todd and Kane Hodder (who is actually a main player, not a cameo), but they each add to the movie in a tangible way as well. The actor that really made the movie for me, however, was Perry Shen, the little jerk tour guide that gets everyone into the mess to begin with. He really shows off his range by playing an Asian Louisiana native(?), a Chinese immigrant in Louisiana(?) and an Asian American from Detroit looking to make a few bucks(…?). The last one is actually quite believable, but the phases this guy goes through are quite entertaining. Also of note, Deon Richmond, of “Not Another Teen Movie” fame, has quite possibly the funniest expression ever to be caught on film as Ben (Moore) tries to initiate dialogue with Feldman’s character. He plays the “Black Guy” perfectly, and should be commended.

With slashers, it’s the visuals that make you the bucks, and the producers of “Hatchet” wanted the bucks. The movie starts with a montage of Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras, so within fifteen seconds we’ve seen twenty sets of boobs. Of course, if you’ve ever been to Mardi Gras, you know this is… unfortunately not true, but that is the magic of the movies, right? The oh-so-gratuitous nudity continues throughout the opening, with the gang meeting up with a fake ‘Girls Gone Wild’ type producer (another Piranha similarity? Oh man) with his team of “woo”-ing girls, ready to show off their Mardi Gras spirit at a moments notice. In the gore department, we get all sorts of fun stuff, focusing on axe wounds (duh!) and venturing out to things like lower jaws being ripped off and gator bites. Blood splatters everywhere, all the time.

“Hatchet” is a unique film in that it is both a slasher movie and a parody of slasher movies. “Scream” also does this very well, but does it in a serious tone. Green made a slasher movie, but took the time to make fun of it in the process. The guys who made “Scream” made a movie that made fun of slasher flicks, then took the time to turn it into a slasher flick. I don’t know if that point will make it across to anyone, but I hope it confuses you enough to get you intrigued. I would recommend “Hatchet” for anyone in the mood for “Old School American Horror”, but who has already made a dent in their six pack. Don’t take it seriously, just have fun with it. Adam Green officially has my back now, for what its worth.

Story: 6

Visuals: 6

Fun Factor: 7