Hello Murdah, Hello Foddah: Marc Savlov reports from the Alamo's Camp Hacknslash, where more than 1,000 horror fans saw Freddy Vs. Jason while not sloshing their way around a softball field and flashing their kibbles and bits.
Hello Murdah, Hello Foddah Dept.: Miraculously, it all went off without a hitch: Last Saturday's Camp Hacknslash event, during which Camp Ben McCullough was turned into the global nexus of all things slashy by the Alamo Drafthouse and Harry Knowles' Ain't It Cool News, drew a crowd of more than 1,000 of the faithful to preview HK-expat director Ronny Yu's eagerly anticipated Freddy Vs. Jason, along with a handful of other camp-related films including cult fave Sleepaway Camp, Red Hot American Summer, and the little-seen Joe Giannone shocker, Madman. The coup was in having not only the stars of Freddy Vs. Jason on board for the event -- Robert Englund and new Jason Ken Kirzinger (replacing four-time hockey masker Kane Hodder) -- but also Yu and Friday the 13th franchise mastermind Sean Cunningham, all of whom received a standing ovation following the film's 9:30pm screening. Not to gush (though really, why the hell not?), but Alamo owners Tim and Karrie League have set something of a new gold standard for cinematic coolness, a sentiment that's being echoed unanimously by a deluge of post-campout postings on Knowles' Web site, www.aintitcoolnews.com. Clad in the official powder-blue Camp Hacknslash T-shirts, navy shorts, and the omnipresent tube socks, attendees gorged themselves on Salt Lick barbecue (conveniently located 50 yards away) in between the Alamo's take on such classic camp activities as duct-tape wallet-making, a drunken game of softball rechristened "sloshball," and that perennial fave, the wet T-shirt contest. Much to the male campers frustration, the latter was unceremoniously curtailed when an unnamed testosterone case decided his Kibbles 'n Bits were better off on public display than in his shorts, a horrific event unanticipated by both the Alamo crew and the concerned camp owners. That minor bit of alcohol-fueled hubris aside, the event was a flat-out success, and one that even the roving clouds of gargantuan Hill Country mosquitoes couldn't suck the life out of. And what does Robert "Freddy" Englund have to say about his ongoing, special-effects-soaked role? "Long before Freddy, I began my career during the last golden age of Hollywood, in the Seventies, during that film renaissance that occurred just before Jaws hit the fan," said affable chatterbox Englund at the Driskill Hotel bar before moving on to the camp later that day. "I worked with Bob Rafaelson, To Kill a Mockingbird's Robert Mulligan, Dan Petrie of Raisin in the Sun, among others. Since the advent of the blockbuster, and since I've been doing horror films as an adjunct to just my basic character-actor career, it's the technology that I've seen change the most, and which has changed the way movies are made." According to Englund, his stint on the popular alien-invasion television series V back in 1983, featuring effects work by no less than Star Wars' John Dykstra, "raised the bar a thousandfold for special effects on television. Before that, it was, you know, some chick in green make-up on Star Trek, and that was it. I played a white-trash albino boy in my first movie, Buster and Billy, in 1974, and my make-up was so primitive that to me I looked like Marcel Marceau!" Adds Englund, "Del Armstrong, the guy who did my make-up on that, believe it or not was the same guy who had done what was considered, up to that point, the state-of-the-art of make-up effects, for a television film called Gargoyles. ... These days," he continued, "when people criticize us for going a little crazy with the effects on the Nightmare movies -- which are pretty low-budget -- I have to say that first of all, we're all just boys with toys in this business, and second of all, we were learning something new every single minute. It was a lot like being in Hollywood during the 1920s, in the sense that make-up effects were, and still are to a large degree, being revolutionized moment-by-moment. But, you know, it's all for naught if you haven't got a damn good story to back up the gross-out effects."