Hack/Slash: Cassie Hack, the final “Final Girl” of the Slasher Movie

We are not damsels in distress who stand idly by, hysterical, high-pitched screams issuing from our mouths while the knight in shining armor slays the dragon. We want to be our own warriors.

Hack/Slash Omnibus (volume 1-4)
written and created by Tim Seeley

Written and created by local Chicagoan, Tim Seeley, Hack/Slash tells the story of Cassandra “Cassie” Hack, orphaned daughter of the “The Lunch Lady Killer”. When her mother comes back from the dead as a “Slasher” (think of Jason Vorreheus or Michael Myers), it is left up to Cassie to stop her. In doing this Cassie, learns that her destiny is to track down and eliminate Slashers (aka Revenants) throughout the country with her partner Vlad Slash.

A throwback to late 1970s and early 1980s Slasher Films, each arc of Hack/Slash features an archetypal monster which Cassie, the ultimate “Final Girl,” must find and destroy. In an interview, Seeley noted that after watching a weekend marathon of these films, he came up with a plan to create a mythos between the film franchises based on their shared histories, locations, and rules.

Continue reading after the jump for more information on Cassie Hack, the Final Girl, and the Slasher Film genre.

The Slasher Film

The Slasher Film was a genre of horror movies that became popular in the late 1970s and peaked out during the mid-1980s. The main characteristic of these films is that they featured a “psychotic human or superman that kills or stalks a succession of people, usually teenagers and predominately females.” (Keisner 412) The most notable creations of this genre were Jason, Michael Myers, Freddie Krueger, and Leatherface.

The monster is typically a creation of society which brings forth the wrath through a number different of tropes including cruelty, fear, or an attempt to control the structures of society through lies and manipulation. Brought forth the Slasher is a representation of the “rejected, marginalized underbelly of society, the traits that are repressed or denied … erupting in at any moment into bloodthirsty revenge … exposing the lie of the structures that are supposed to contain impulses.” (Trencansky 70). For instance, Jason was born because of the negligence of camp counselors, who were too busy placing importance on drinking and shirking responsibility than taking care of youth, thus he comes back as a monster that wreaks havoc on irresponsible actions. Similar, Freddy, was a serial child murder, who was absconded because of a technical error. Not happy with the verdict the townspeople burnt his house down burning him alive. Freddy than comes back as a product of violence begetting violence, and takes out the sins of the fathers on the next generation.

Keisner, J. (2008). Do you Want to Watch? A Study of the Visual Rhetoric of the Postmodern Horror Film. Women’s Studies37(4), 411-427.

Trencansky, S. (2001). Final Girls and Terrible Youth: Transgression in 1980s Slasher Horror. Journal Of Popular Film & Television29(2), 63.

Principles of the Slasher Film

While Slasher films have all kinds of settings and origins for their monsters, the following are key principles that tend to exist in the genre. Most of these principles Seeley uses these principles to create a shared universe with rules for the Slashers in the Hack/Slash universe.

  1.   Slasher threatens an already violent and untrustworthy social order
  2.   There is no distinction between good and evil
  3.   One’s ability to adapt to their “supernatural surroundings” or the monster/villain determines their ability to survive
  4.   The monster/villain will rise from the dead despite systematic killings.

The Final Girl

A common character in the Slasher movie genre is ‘The Final Girl”.  This term was coined by Film critic Carol J. Clover who went on to describe the Final Girl as the female character, who after all of her friends have been eliminated by the monster is left to find a way to survive. This character has undergone some changes over the decades. In the 1970s, the heroines survived at random, usually based on their ability to scream, run, and avoid the pursuing monster. Into the 1980s, however, this character evolved. Instead of surviving based on escaping and fleeing the monster, the Final Girls learned to not only just defend themselves but they actually manage to match and exceed the powers of the monster with their own. This character, through extreme physical/mental pain and torture sees the full extent of the killers’ depravity and in the abnormality of the situation learns to rebel against society. Unfortunately in the 1990s, movies such as Scream, and I Know What You Did Last Summer, the strong Final Girl gave way to one who was a victim and who had to rely on intervention by a another character (typically male) to save them.

Typical Characteristics of the Final Girl

While there have been a ton of Final Females over  the years, here are some characteristics that most of them share in common. See if you can figure out how Cassie Hack fits into these archetypes.

  1. Celibate
  2. An outsider
  3. Comes from an abusive or irresponsible family
  4. Discovers the monster’s origin
  5. Sole survivor of the Monster

Library Resources on Slasher Films and the Final Girl

Buchanan, C. (2011, October 24). How much gore can you handle?. UWM Post (Milwaukee, WI). p. 10.

Conrich, I. (2010). Horror zone the cultural experience of contemporary horror cinema, London : I. B. Tauris.

Degraffenreid, L. J. (2011). What Can You Do in Your Dreams? Slasher Cinema as Youth Empowerment. Journal Of Popular Culture44(5), 954-969.

Fahy, T. R. (2010) The philosophy of horror, Lexington, Ky. : University Press of Kentucky .

Hawkins, J. (2000). Cutting edge art-horror and the horrific avant-garde, Minneapolis : University of Minnesota Press.

Keisner, J. (2008). Do you Want to Watch? A Study of the Visual Rhetoric of the Postmodern Horror Film. Women’s Studies37(4), 411-427.

Kendrick, J. (2009). Razors in the Dreamscape: Revisiting A Nightmare on Elm Street and the Slasher Film. Film Criticism33(3), 17-33.

Linz, D., & Donnerstein, E. (1994). Sex and violence in slasher films: A reinterpretation. Journal Of Broadcasting & Electronic Media38(2), 243.

Lizardi, R. (2010). ‘Re-Imagining’ Hegemony and Misogyny in the Contemporary Slasher Remake. Journal Of Popular Film & Television38(3), 113-121.

Molitor, F., & Sapolsky, B. S. (1993). Sex, violence, and victimization in slasher films. Journal Of Broadcasting & Electronic Media37(2), 233.

Molitor, F., & Sapolsky, B. S. (1994). Violence towards women in slasher films: A reply to Linz and Donnerstein. Journal Of Broadcasting & Electronic Media,38(2), 247.

Nowell, R. (2011). “There’s More Than One Way to Lose Your Heart”: The American Film Industry, Early Teen Slasher Films, and Female Youth. Cinema Journal51(1), 115-140.

Parker, J. (2009). Don’t Fear the Reaper. Atlantic Monthly (10727825)303(3), 36-37.

PR, N. (2012, January 5). The New Horror Icon of the 21st Century: The Orphan Killer. PR Newswire US.

Resurrecting and Updating the Teen Slasher. (2006). Journal of Popular Film & Television34(2), 50-61.

Trencansky, S. (2001). Final Girls and Terrible Youth: Transgression in 1980s Slasher Horror. Journal Of Popular Film & Television29(2), 63.

Vaghfipour, S. (2009). A Monster Found Everywhere. Symptom, (10), 1-7.

Weaver III, J. B. (1991). Are `slasher’ horror films sexually violent? A content analysis. Journal Of Broadcasting & Electronic Media35(3), 385.

Weiner, R. (2010). Cinema inferno celluloid explosions from the cultural margins, Lanham, Md. : Scarecrow Press.

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