Andrew Yong (Parry Shen) has a book to sell, so is now on the personal appearance circuit in bookshops, but the tome is proving controversial because of its subject matter. He is famously the sole survivor of a massacre in the swamps around New Orleans, one he claims was perpetrated by a ghoulish, unstoppable figure known as Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder). However, everyone is well aware this supposed murderer is simply a bogeyman conjured up to frighten little kids, and no such person ever existed, therefore the obvious culprit to them was obviously Andrew himself, though as he keeps insisting, he was exonerated. But what if Crowley could be resurrected?
It had been the best part of a decade since Adam Green had directed a Victor Crowley Hatchet movie, the previous entry having been helmed by someone else though he did provide the script, but he was inspired by a chat with George A. Romero and Wes Craven (to whom the film is dedicated) to return to his old haunts and make a fourth instalment after all. Fans were delighted, especially as Green went further than ever with the comedy, making this the most humorous of the series as he combined the swamp horror of many a low budget shocker with something more akin to a nineteen-seventies Airport disaster movie, as much took place in a downed aeroplane.
Before we got there, an uncommon amount of setting up was in store to get the characters to the location of the villain, which saw not only Andrew promoting his book and finding almost everyone is there to see a "murderer", whether they like him or not, but another group of characters planning their own no-budget recreation of Crowley's crimes in movie form. A running joke sees Andrew blamed for various stuff he never did since nobody cares about the truth, they just like the sensational stuff, and the level of the gags was crude for the most part - he's asked to sign a pair of breasts, which seems like a sexist joke until a hairy bloke demands he sign his genitals too.
If that struck you as funny, you would be in for a treat, because along with that sort of item, there was also the gore, which was also presented as something of a joke. So if you were scared by this film, it's difficult to say whether that was the desired effect, as it was more dedicated to the laughs than the frights. Despite that, the structure was as close to a slasher flick as they could get, once the media satires were out of the way and the three budding filmmakers had played a YouTube video of people intoning the voodoo chant that will resurrect Crowley; after that, and the plane Andrew has been persuaded to board as publicity (and a cool million dollars as a sweetener) hits engine trouble and crashes in the swamp. There was a surprising amount of time spent in that transport, which made this look even cheaper.
Mind you, Green had not been backward about coming forward on the subject of how difficult it was to shoot in the rural Louisiana locations, and one assumes he wanted a break from mosquito bites to film in a studio instead. The cast were about the tone of low budget actors in comedies of this era, kind of knowing, game for the less tasteful business, and a tad artificial as keeping with a storyline that was hard to take seriously, by design or unintentionally. Still, there were enough bright moments from them to justify its existence: Laura Ortiz had fun as the creepy girl who kicks off the terror, Dave Sheridan put his comedy skills to work as the unexpectedly heroic goofball, Felissa Rose and Tiffany Shepis continued their aims to be in as many cheapo horrors as possible, and Shen was as reliable as ever as he finally won the limelight, rather than as a punchline as he was in the previous ones. Unlikely to win over the unconvinced, but to the converted this was sufficiently engaging. Music by Jason Akers and Sam Ewing.
[The extras on Thunderbird's Region 2 DVD in full:
Cast commentary with writer/director Adam Green and actors Parry Shen, Laura Ortiz and Dave Sheridan
Technical commentary with writer/director Adam Green, cinematographer Jan-Michael Losada, editor Matt Latham, and makeup FX artist Robert Pendergraft
Fly on the set: behind the scenes
Raising the dead... again: an interview with Adam Green