hack/slash movie

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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