Horror comics only seem to be rising in popularity. They’re gaining readership, even as horror on screen is becoming more and more independent and very seldom sees a wide release. But even if horror movies are waning on the big screen, comic book movies are only getting bigger and bigger. In the fifteen years since the success of X-Men, they’re still only gaining momentum. 2016 alone will see no less than six comic-based films. Marvel has credited its success to the fact that while all of its features center on superhero movies, they all really belong to a different genre. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a political thriller, Guardians of the Galaxy is a space opera, etc.
So where are the horror comic movies? Sure, horror comics have been adapted in the past, but they almost always lean too heavy on just being a horror movie or—much more often—draining out the horror to just be a comic book movie. From League of Extraordinary Gentlemen to Spawn to Swamp Thing too many adaptations lose the scariness of the source material by trying to reinterpret them as superhero movies.
If anything can change that, it’s Hack/Slash. While known to hardcore horror fans and indie comic readers, Hack/Slash is still an underground hit. It hasn’t become overexposed and I think that’s what has held up its many attempts at adaptation over the years. I think, actually, I know that this comic could not only work on the big screen, it could become something pretty special. And I’m here to explain to you why.
It’s already a horror movie.
For those not in the know, Hack/Slash centers on a young woman named Cassie Hack who was once upon a time the quintessential final girl. She was the sole survivor of an attack from a supernaturally powered masked boogeyman known as a slasher. The series is built off of the classic tropes of horror movies and plays with them much more than the tropes of comic books. It’s influenced by slasher movies and is a commentary and semi-satire of them at the same time. It was clearly meant for the big screen.
At the same time, Hack/Slash is very much about the camaraderie between Cassie Hack and her sidekick, Vlad, a brute in a gas mask who looks like your prototypical slasher but has a heart of gold. These two play off of each other more than any other pairing in comics that I can think of. They make the perfect team. Any movie based on the book would inherently have to be centered around this core relationship. As wacky and outlandish as the stories can get, that is always what has made Hack/Slash work.
There are a wealth of stories from the comics that would make for great movies. And so much ground is covered that each Hack/Slash sequel could be a different kind of horror movie, just like what Marvel is doing with its expanding subgenres. Maybe your first movie is a summer camp slasher, maybe your second movie is more supernatural and the third centers on killer dolls. The possibilities are endless. At the same time, each villain they come up against could also spin off their own sequels and franchises. If adapted to film, this little indie comic could be a moneymaking machine.
Given that taking out slashers is what Cassie and Vlad do with their time, they’ve come up against some of the genre’s heavy hitters from time to time. It’s only natural that they’d go toe to toe with some actual horror villains from the silver screen, that’s exactly what the audience would want to see. In the comics they’ve already tackled the likes of Herbert West, Victor Crowley and Chucky, and have teamed up with Ash from Evil Dead, just to name a few. Interestingly enough, one of the first attempts to get Hack/Slash on the big screen was as the sequel to Freddy vs. Jason. I think that showdown could be incredible…at a certain point. It’s something that would have to be built to, not something done right out of the gate.
Comic book movie fans love their easter eggs. They live to pick out those little things in the background that reference events from the comics or tease what’s coming in future films. Sometimes they spend more time looking for these things than they do watching the movie itself. Even if you don’t introduce whatever big horror icons you could get the rights to in the first movie, you could theoretically reference just about all of them. Throw a hockey mask over here, a glove over here or a puzzle box there. Fans would go nuts. Even referencing some larger villains spawned from the comic pages itself would be a great reward for longtime readers.
Think about how many people you could pull from the genre for a love letter like this. While it may have fun with satire, Hack/Slash is very much about the love of horror. You could pull in so many genre stars to make cameos and fans would go nuts. Hell, they could even round out your main cast. Danielle Harris or Texas Chainsaw’s Alexandra Daddario would make a perfect Cassie and Derek Mears is an ideal Vlad. And there are probably great casting possibilities I haven’t even thought of yet.
That’s what everything really comes down to, isn’t it? Hack/Slash would make for a perfect horror movie or even a TV show because it’s all right there on the page. Any issue, any plot arc or trade paperback could be a blueprint for a movie. It’s scripted, storyboarded, all packaged and ready to go. So somebody do something with it already.