"Blood Night: the Legend of Mary Hatchet" Review
BLOOD NIGHT: THE LEGEND OF MARY HATCHET - Directed by Frank Sabatella
When I stopped at my local RedBox machine late on a recent Friday night, all of the current blockbuster hits that I was interested in seeing were "OUT OF STOCK." I'd somewhat expected that, but I still hate when it happens! However, rather than go home empty handed, I opted to roll the dice on one of the unknown, "leftover" films in the machine. Scanning through the titles in the "horror" section (it was the Halloween season at the time) the "Carrie"-esque cover art for Blood Night: The Legend of Mary Hatchet caught my eye (a silhouetted axe-wielding girl set against a fiery, blood splattered background) and I said to myself, "what the hell, it's only a buck." Though my expectations were fairly low, Blood Night turned out to be a fast, fun, brainless, '80s style splatter movie that didn't have much in the way of smarts or sophistication, but it definitely delivered the gory goods.
The set-up for Blood Night is basic Slasher Film 101: on a dark and stormy night in 1978, Long Island pre-teen Mary Hatchet brutally murders her parents (which is shown in lovingly nasty detail) and gets packed off to the Kings Point Sanitarium for her crimes. Still incarcerated ten years later, the catatonic Mary is raped by a security guard, which results in her becoming pregnant. After a typical horror-film birth scene filled with endless screaming, Mary is informed that her child was stillborn. Naturally, she goes ballistic and embarks on a killing rampage around the hospital before she's finally shot dead by police. The Sanitarium is closed down amidst all the controversy, and a local legend quickly takes root claiming that Mary Hatchet returns from the grave every year, searching for her lost child.... and hacking off the heads of anyone unlucky enough to get in her way, for good measure. (Mwahahahahahahaha!)
In the present day, the teenage population of Kings Park, New York celebrates the anniversary of Mary's death each year in an annual tradition known as "Blood Night," which seems quite similar to "mischief night" prior to Halloween - they run around town in cardboard Mary Hatchet masks, pulling pranks, throwing eggs at cars, and generally acting like obnoxious morons. They also use Blood Night as an excuse to party hearty, get drunk, and fornicate, of course (this is a slasher film, y'know). We're introduced to a group of local teens who are setting up the Blood Night party to end all Blood Night parties, but before the real festivities begin they make the ill-advised move of visiting Mary Hatchet's grave with a Ouija board in an attempt to make contact with her spirit (all together now... DUH! ). Once they're chased off by cemetary caretaker/town drunk Graveyard Gus, the group quickly gets down to partyin' business back at a house that is conveniently devoid of parental units. There they imbibe obscene amounts of alcohol, watch vintage porn, and use the bedrooms for purposes other than sleeping until someone -- or something -- starts stalking the hallways and picking off the party-goers one by one. When they realize that they may be facing the pissed-off spirit of Mary Hatchet herself, the remnants of the group head off to the creepy, abandoned Kings Park sanitarium, where they hope to locate the grave of Mary's baby so they can re-unite the pair of lost souls and end the curse once and for all. I will leave it to you to find out whether or not the plan is successful.
The Good & Bad of "Mary"
I'm certainly not going to pretend that Blood Night was a great film, but it is a nice looking, enjoyable homage to the horror/splatter films of the '70s and '80s. The gore effects are decidedly old-school (i.e. no CGI) and pleasantly nasty. On the other hand, the film has entirely too many characters running around, which makes it hard to find a clear "hero" or "heroine" to root for. These are not the uber-hip, wisecracking, self-aware teens we've become used to thanks to the Scream series and its clones, either - the kids of Blood Night are more like the irritating cast of "Jersey Shore," i.e. drunk, stupid and merely there to provide cannon fodder. How dumb are these kids? Put it this way: if you've seen half as many slasher flicks as I have, you'll be able to figure out the supposed "twist" at the film's three-quarter mark way before they do. The young cast is mainly made up of unknowns (who are likely to remain unknown) aside from the welcome appearances by cult horror icons Bill Moseley (of Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 and House of 1000 Corpses fame) and scream queen Danielle Harris, who's best known as the child star who played little Jamie Lloyd in Halloween 4 and 5 back in the '80s. It must be noted that Danielle has grown up to be quite the hottie, even if she's way too old to be playing a high school kid as she does in this flick!
"Blood Night" was shot in and around Long Island, New York and is supposedly based on a real urban legend based in the area, but this is the first I'd ever heard of the story. Blood Night was made in 2008, had a limited independent DVD release in 2009, and was eventually picked up by Lionsgate for wider distribution in 2011. While not a classic for the ages, "Mary Hatchet" was worth the buck I paid RedBox for it and it should provide splatter fans with their fair share of Halloween season jolts.
© 2011 Keith Abt