Why 'Hack/Slash' Should Be The Next Huge Horror Movie Series

As horror's gender pendulum slowly swings back towards XX chromosomes, I'm ready to make a plea. "For more female leading characters?" In a way, but frankly, horror's the one genre that empowers women more than most. "For more female filmmakers?" Hopefully, but creators, Film Twitter, and the general cinema public are already voicing this angle with appropriate fury. "Then can you just tell us you insufferable sod?" Impatient, are we? For what I'm about to demand, I am too.

I want a Hack/Slash movie franchise, and even if you haven't read the comics, you want one, too. You may just not know it yet.

The Names You Need to Know

There has never been a better time, place, or purpose. Horror is in need of a new leading lady. The Underworlds and Resident Evils of mainstream Hollywood are running out of ideas (see Resident Evil: The Final Chapter). Indie horror has championed the cause as of late (XX, for example), but equal treatment deserves top billing. Beckinsale and Jovovich need to pass the torch. Who better to grab it by the flame and thrust the blunt end up her villain's keister?

Cassie friggin' Hack. That is exactly who.

Some of you may be wondering, "If Cassie Hack is so stinkin' great, why haven't I heard of her?" Maybe you don't read graphic novels (comics, whatever you want to call them). Maybe you haven't tuned into Hack/Slash's cinematic development Hell. Cassie Hack is – in my opinion – one of the greatest female genre characters ever envisioned. The bitch-faced ferocity of Ellen Ripley. The go-getter attitude of Greek mythology's Artemis. The aggression of 1,000 scream queens. She's damn near perfect in the eye of this beholder, and more should be permitted her legacy.

Created by Tim Seeley in 2004, Cassandra "Cassie" Hack is what's best described as a "slasher" killer. In the Hack/Slash universe, Hell and Earth are one in the same. Horror baddies aren't movie magic – they're a part of life (classified as Revenants by the government). Cassie – for reasons of her own – takes it upon herself to rid the world of these vile monsters, ghosts and other maleficent forms. Dream-haunting ghouls, rock 'n roll sadists, a fully-skinned psychiatrist – Cassie's signature "Kiss It" baseball bat shows no prejudice. Her "Boomstick," if you will. Crack, thud and it's on to the next. All in a day's work.

She's not alone, mind you. Cassie is rarely without her hulking sidekick/partner Vlad. His origins are blurry and his abilities change depending on story (sometimes masked and mute, others full-faced and talking). Cassie crosses his path during the "Meatman Killer" hunt and that's about all we know of early Vlad. It was "love" at first fight, but not in the romantic way. Just two "heroes" who dream of a better, psycho-free world.

Whenever Cassie finds herself injured, Vlad and his meat cleavers are there to take a pummeling. He's her rock in more than one way. A few other characters offer their aid (Chris Krank sets up a Hack/Slash Inc. website, a beacon for slasher survivors), but Vlad represents Cassie's purest bond. He'd go to the underworld and back to rescue her (their relationship is paternal in nature), because he indeed has. Vlad is the Bane to Cassie's Poison Ivy, and they make one hell of a demon-hunting team.

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Some Serious Franchise Potential

"She sounds a lot like an angsty Ash Williams, Matt!" Yes, unnamed reader! She does! And you know what's even better? She's already had crossovers with Ash in Seeley's comic series. Know who else she's encountered? Chucky! Cassie is no stranger to crossovers or actual genre characters, which should have horror movie fans salivating. Not to mention other existing ties to Herbert West (Re-Animator), Victor Crowley (Adam Green's Hatchet) and Wizard Of Oz (the Lion, Scarecrow and Tin-Man appear).

Freddy Vs. Jason? How about Freddy Vs. Jason Vs. Cassie! The whole Freddy Vs. Jason Vs. Ash concept would have been something (and actual sequel idea), but Cassie's a better fit for such antics over Bruce Campbell's hunky goofball. Ash hunts Necronomicon goblins (specific). Cassie seeks out larger-than-life slasher icons (everyone). THESE CAMEOS AND MASH-UPS PRACTICALLY WRITE THEMSELVES, HOLLYWOOD.

Unfortunately, this is where things get messy.

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Development Hell

The Hack/Slash media expansion saga dates all the way back to 2006's San Diego Comic Con, where it was announced a Todd Lincoln-directed/Martin Schenk-penned film would release in 2008 (via  production company Rogue). Once this project flatlined in 2012, Marcus Nispel (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre/Friday The 13th remakes) was floated as director for a Hack/Slash film produced by both Relativity and Rogue. Once again, these claims were all talk, leaving the intrigue of a dark vision from Nispel as just a distant daydream (although based on Nispel's previous work, his take might have been a smidge too dreary).

The latest update dates back to October 2015, claiming Hitman 47 writer Skip Woods would be penning a series for Relativity Television. Also attached is (was?) Executive Producer Adrian Askarieh, who originally optioned the rights in 2005. Suffice it to say we shouldn't be holding our collective breath for that Skip Woods show any time soon? Since that was, you know, October 2015?

Even an announced animated feature from HALO 8 Entertainment fell through, originally "confirmed" in 2010. Unless you were in Chicago from September – November of 2014 to catch the short-lived Hack/Slash: Stagefright theater production (with Seeley's involvement), Cassie Hack has only seen life on comic pages despite numerous teases. Not counting cosplay, of course. And some SuicideGirls material.

Studios have been trying. Seeley wants to make this happen. Yet, somehow, moneymen think audiences want movies like Rings or Resident Evil: My Wife Kills More Zombies over something new, original and mother flippin' exciting. This is why  Hack/Slash represents an amicable compromise. First establish Cassie's character as a singular property, then allow glazed-over producers to dream up their billions of sequels. Get Cassie involved with the umpteenth remake of A Nightmare On Elm Street! Everyone wins! Audiences (yay originality!), studios (yay nostalgia!) and horror (yay preservation of icons and introduction of new ideas!).

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How About a Little Fan-Casting?

But who could help bring the famed Cassie Hack to life? Funny you should ask, internet! (Yes, I know I keep talking to myself. No, I'm not OK. Let's get past that.)

Maybe it's my love of Evil Dead/Don't Breathe and adoration of Monster Trucks (WE'LL GET THERE ANOTHER TIME, /FILM), but a fishnet-stockinged Jane Levy makes for quite the Cassie visual. She's a take-no-shit actress who's been battered, beaten and still persevered. Plus, her shorter size would accentuate just how mountainous Vlad stands. Levy has the attitude, physicality and cold, dead stare Cassie needs. She's be a shoe-in.

Oh, you want more? OK. Alexandra Daddario. Boom. She's had her go in horror movies both big and small (Bereavement/Texas Chainsaw 3D), and like Levy, knows how to kick some ass. Her sass in Baywatch would make her a fitting back-talker to Vlad, along with one-liners upon villain deaths. She's a bit taller than Levy, but has the same steely vibe. Plus, she needs redemption for all the times Texas Chainsaw 3D made her fall like a clutz. You remember her tripping over the tiniest fence known to graveyards, correct? Give this girl a bat and let her blow off some steam.

How about Jena Malone? Why is everyone sleeping on her? Ever since her role as Rocket in the somewhat underrated Sucker Punch (COME. AT. ME.), I've been waiting to see her overtake a franchise. She's popped up here and there, but The Hunger Games has been her only other showcase of bone-breaking potential. Paint her hair streaky black, emo her up, and you've got a pretty damn solid Cassie Hack if you ask me. Not the most conventional pick, but one I'd love to see.

Let's not leave Vlad out of the fun! Give me a Dwayne Johnson or Dave Bautista and I'd be happy, no surprise. It might be generic to say, but that's the kind of brute force you need for Vlad – a muscle mass who looks like he could toss a refrigerator 100 yards. The problem is, both Johnson and Bautista would be wasted if movie-Vlad is the silent type. With a mask, you can be a lot less picky. A Derek Mears or Kane Hodder could work. This is no knock on either actor, but they're more accustomed to costumes and coverings. Hell, throw WWE's Sheamus under there for all I care. As long as he's massive, mean and militant when it counts, you've got your Vlad.

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How You Make This a Movie Series

Now, how to address progressive differentiation in a Hack/Slash franchise. Gee, how could you possibly milk numerous films and still forward a message of female involvement? Simple. New directors each film, each with their own unique take. Just like the comics. As you flip through separate narratives in any omnibus, style varies with drastic appeal. Blocky, vibrant colors might accentuate Cassie's battle against an evil teddy bear (long story), while smudged water colors pit her against a giant smiley face (longer story). Why can't numerous Hack/Slash movies follow suit?

During one of her shorter runs, Cassie goes up against a group of rockers who sell their soul for fame. These '80s screamers are called Acid Washed (shirtless, glam hair, you know the type). It turns out that their growing popularity is due to sacrifices made at the end of every show, where "marked" virgins were led into a another realm to become impregnated by evil forces (still with me?). With this '80s-chic-meets-Lovecraft vibe in mind, why not enlist The Lure's Agnieszka Smoczynska for a bloody brutal arena-rock mindfuck? Let her re-team with musician Marcin Macuk, shred some tunes and deliver everything we loved about The Lure in Cassie form. Disfigured demons and juicy appendages are just as weird as killer cannibal mermaids. Fits like a glove!

The Hack/Slash comics also have a devious sense of humor, especially with Chucky and Ash hanging around. Maybe another entry airs more on this jovial slasher side? Possibly in the Charles Band realm, to get real silly. With Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich coming up, maybe there's future crossover potential? All I can picture is a long-take of Cassie walking through an open room, smacking evil puppets out of mid-air as they lunge her way. Home runs all around! Give someone like Katie Dippold a writing attempt at such goofiness, and pair her with a director like...hmm...Rachel Talalay (Tank Girl/Freddy's Dead)? I'll take my producer credit now.

Okay, one last one while we're here. Give me the heavier, more dangerous Karyn Kusama Hack/Slash entry where Cassie is forced to face her mother (and accompanying baggage). If you've seen Kusama's XX segment, you know she can massage parental fear and torment. Who better to bring Cassie's origin to light?

This is only the iceberg tip of potential for Hack/Slash. Tim Seeley's universe offers more than dismemberment, grit and oh-so-wrong chuckles. Relationships somehow end up being tender despite a reality full of mutilated flesh and undead Revenants, with themes of gender and sexuality finding a platform (Cassie's own sexual blossoming is a recurring topic). Cassie is a teenage punk at heart, except instead of damning the man, she's condemning the blackest souls to their darkest demise. There's also self exploration, promotion of individuality, and a heaping helping of gore to make all the emotional weight go down that much easier.

The time is now for Cassie Hack's big-screen debut. We've not only waited long enough, but the iron is hot. Horror fans are clamoring for the next big genre "It Girl," and you've got an icon in the making in Tim Seeley's spunky reaper. Enough with the teases. It's time to finally make a Hack/Slash movie and reshape a current genre landscape whose progress can still only be measured in inches. Need a catalyst for bigger changes? Well let me introduce you to a slasher bashin' chick who'll have your kissing her ring.