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Arriving amidst much hype, the slasher film "Hatchet" turns out to be slightly misrepresented. While the box pegs it as "old school American horror," the truth is forgot to put "a parody of" before it.

See, the kind of films that this post-modern effort pays tribute to "? "Friday the 13th," "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" "? never laughed at themselves. They are largely humorless, whereas "Hatchet" winks at itself and the audience so much, you'd think it had a facial tic.

That's not to knock the flick, because it's highly entertaining, even if many films before it "? like the recent "Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon" "? have skewered the slasher genre with more aplomb.

The setup is by-the-numbers basic: While on vacation in New Orleans, two college guys (Joel David Moore from "Dodgeball" and Deon Richmond from "Van Wilder") take a nighttime tour of a supposedly haunted Louisiana swamp, as do a middle-aged fat couple and two coeds eager to flash their breasts. Turns out the swamp isn't haunted "? it's flat-out terrorized, by the burned, deformed mutant named Victory Crowley (Kane Hodder, "Jason X").

Crowley's quick with the hatchet "? hence the title "? separating various parts from various bodies. Imbued with super-strength, he can smash a head as if it were a water balloon, and writer/director Adam Green sees to it that the blood flows as if it were H2O. The jokes aren't always as funny as the delivery leads you to believe, but as an exercise in smirking horror, "Hatchet" does the trick.

"?Rod Lott


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