Terror Tracks: Hatchet (The Ballad of Victor Crowley)

Terror Tracks: Hatchet (The Ballad of Victor Crowley)

I was lucky enough to see Adam Green’s newest entry into the Hatchet franchise, Victor Crowley, back in October during the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival in Williamsburg. It was a very early cold and dreary Sunday afternoon, almost like it is at the time I am writing this, and the film absolutely slapped me awake. Greens reverence for the Crowley character is like a shot to the heart for the series, stretching and reshaping what we love into what we didn’t know we’d love, all the while retaining that perfect cheesy blend of 80’s rebellious fun that lead us to find films like Madman and The Burning in our Blockbuster days. The cherry on top though for me came with the end credits song which, like Dokken before them, features a titular track off of Ignitor's new album Haunted By Rock & Roll called Hatchet (The Ballad of Victor Crowley), and with Victor Crowley smashing onto Blu and VOD tomorrow February 6th, what better time than to revisit this new classic! 

Now if that name sounds at all familiar it’s because Jason McMaster, the former lead singer of Dangerous Toys who now leads Ignitor wrote the song Demon Bell (The Ballad of Horace Pinker) from a little movie called Shocker from the late Wes Craven. “It’s really cool how all these things come around full circle.” McMaster said in an interview with ArieScope. McMaster and Green became acquaintances in the way we all hope to with our idols: mutual appreciation. 

“I met Adam because he was a huge Toys fan..he flew down for a Dangerous Toys show in San Antonio. He didn’t bug me for passes...he just came down, watched the show and left, which was really cool. So we became friends and, eventually I realized who he was! We started talking more, emailing, and he told me how much he loved “Demon Bell”, and the SHOCKER soundtrack, and he asked if I would do a song for one of his movies. So I wrote “Hatchet (The Ballad of Victory Crowley)”, a suggested song title from one of his writing partners, as a nod to “Demon Bell (The Ballad of Horace Pinker). It’s a killer song, and a really cool story.”

And killer song is an understatement, because this track shreds.

Hi-hats and bass drums grab you by the collar and pull you into this song like the theme to Buffy The Vampire Slayer on a speed ball bender, escalating into an early break down where they isolate and deconstruct within the song, allowing solos to build on top of solos until it crescendos into McMaster’s razorblade vocals. Look, I’ve studied voice for over a decade and even I still can’t begin to fathom what goes on in McMasters vocal chords. The sounds he can make would make professional voice teachers clutch their pearls and wince, but the man continues going over three decades later without having lost the high tenor range that brought him to prominence. Whatever he is doing, he has done it safely and with longevity in mind and that takes extreme control over the muscles in your voice.

Also in the hallowed halls that feature the raised jersey’s of “Pet Sematary”, “He’s Back (Man Behind The Mask), and “Are You Ready For Freddy” now lies “Hatchet (The Ballad of Victor Crowley)”. Lyrically the song is a feast for the ears, letting us relish into the fun, dark, and spooky. But only when I can actually understand the lyrics, and without my trusty Metal-To-English dictionary I can only parse through most of what McMaster’s is singing. If anything is unintelligible, I’ve notated it, but please feel free to reach out if you notice an error, and we can update the lyrics! But from what is there, I can say it may be the best metal song made for a horror movie ever. Seriously.

Who is to blame?
Will they ever stop taunting me?
They start the flame
even though they are just children
Now i feel the fear
With a sadden life against the door
I feel the pain
As my father tries to save me
He seals my fate
His life of grief has brought the end
There was never hate
That I’ll live all of my days undead
To die and rise again

Right of the bat, McMaster gives us two unique things to the titular horror movie song: it’s from the perspective of the killer, and it begins with the origin story. We learn in the original Hatchet that Victor Crowley was stuck inside his swamp side home after a group of local kids set it ablaze. Trying desperately to free his son, Thomas Crowley brandished his hatchet to break down the door. What he didn’t know was, on the other side Victor had his body pressed against the door and when the hatchet finally went through it struck Victor in the face, killing him. McMaster puts us on the other side of that door, but disembodied, as if Victor too must watch the horror of his death over and over again in the swamp like a projection. Forever reliving that moment.

Hatchet (Hatchet..Hatchet..)
Father I forgive you and your
Hatchet (Hatchet..Hatchet..)
From the fire, you tried to save me
Hatchet (Hatchet..Hatchet..)
I am the cursed man that god created
Hatchet (Hatchet..Hatchet..)
Oh father just where can you be
I search the swamp endlessly

Look, think what you will about the fun corniness of every Terror Track out there, but it is inarguable that The Ballad of Victor Crowley has a very deep emotional core that is quite beautiful. It actually does more for the film than any other has because of the point of view we are put in to. The lyric Father I forgive you and your hatchet may cause unintended laughter for those unaware of the context, but for audiences that have invested time into this more-emotionally-complex-than-meets-the-eye character, these lyrics deepen our appreciation and understanding of the titular slasher. Another film may have taken the idea ‘Victor Crowley must forgive his father’ as a plot point, a way for our final girl to help his spirit “move on from the swamp”, so to speak. But utilized in this way we get to experience the turmoil Victor embodies within his own curse. The question that has never been asked of the likes of Madman Marz and Jason Voorhees isn’t why are they killing but do they want to be killing? Jason just wanted his mom back. Victor just wants to see his father again.


Now I call out for you
It’s all a cross upon my family
Father please
Come home
Come back to me, come back to me
And no one understands
With a sadden life, against the door
I feel the pain
Come back to me, Come back to me
It’s not your fault
Your life of grief
Is not the end
(Your sight evolving?)
Somehow turning to revenge.
Innocent no casualty!

From my experience with other Terror Tracks, they typically angle on a spooky scenario (He’s Back by Alice Cooper) or ample amounts of gore (Splatterhouse by Koffin Kats), here though McMaster evokes images of Crowley on the banks of the swamp, tearing through trees confused and lost and above all else full of grief. This paints the Hatchet franchise more in light with what Adam Green always intended with his misunderstood monster, where Victor is as much caught in the crossfire of what is happening as everyone else. He may be the one tearing limbs apart, but he may be the more tragic victim here. 

Hatchet
(I kill and yet I have emotion?)
Father I forgive you
From the fire you tried to save me
Hatchet
My father, now undead
I live to rise again
I shall die and rise again
Die and rise again

Who’s to blame
Will they ever stop taunting me
they start the flame
Even though they are just children
Now I feel the fear
With a sadden life against the door
I feel the pain
As my father tries to save me
He seals my fate
His life of grief upon the end
There was never hate
And I shall live all of my days undead
To die and rise again
Die and rise again
Die and rise again

As the song ebbs and flows we leave feeling like we’ve been given a glimpse into the mind of the supernatural slasher, in a way that I never really knew I wanted but now feel endless fascination for. The portrait of a tortured Victor Crowley that McMaster and Ignitor have created imbues so much additional color into the tapestry that Adam Green has already weaved that you won’t look at the character the same way again. Victor Crowley arrives on VOD/Blu on February 6th and check out the song Hatchet (The Ballad of Victor Crowley) from Ignitor on their new album Haunted by Rock & Roll from EMP and Ariescope Records

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