Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

HATCHET (1966)


HATCHET (1966). Director: William Castle.

This was Castle and Joan Crawford's unreleased follow-up to Strait-Jacket. That film made so much money that Castle immediately made plans for Crawford to do a sequel, but Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte and Crawford's alleged illness got in the way. By the time Crawford got around to doing the film, there was a brand new script and she was a new character named -- ironically -- Mrs. Vorhees (although spelled with one "o.") Jackie Vorhees owns cabins for rent in Maine. Who should show up one day but the man who jilted her years ago and the woman he married. The two are killed in a gruesome sequence, but their bodies disappear. Eventually there are more murders-by-hatchet and Jackie is the prime -- although certainly not the only -- suspect. Gloria Blondell isn't bad as the manager of the cabins, who has some odd secrets of her own. Cameron Mitchell is a horny handyman, and Christine Jorgenson has a great guest appearance as a traveling saleslady. Gregor Tanese is fine as an overly ambitious reporter. The film was never completed, however, because Joan walked off the set, although the ending was shot and a DVD is expected to surface in early 2010.

Verdict: Compelling hatchet job with a zesty Joan. ***.

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