As Halloween candy and decorations begins to creep onto store shelves I’m four weeks into my “13 Weeks of Halloween” and I’m happy the rest of the world is joining in on the fun! I’ve been delving into some obscure gems of Halloween-horror cinema and this week’s creature feature is no different. I revisited the 2004 horror-comedy The Hazing (also released under the name Dead Scared) an insane film that, much like my previously featured Idle Hands, embraces it’s gleeful, gory insanity and invites you to laugh(cackle) along.
The film was heavily inspired by the filmmakers love of the Evil Dead films and anyone familiar with that series will immediately and constantly see homages (if not blatant duplications) in FX techniques, camera angles, even the overall slapstick tone The Hazing commits to fairly early. Too many independent horror films try to blatantly imitate what inspired them without putting any thought into an original story within which they can execute their imitations. Writer/director Rolfe Kanefsky played with so many familiar horror tropes, including the Halloween setting, but presented them in a way that never seemed too exploitative, keeping in mind the aforementioned self-awareness of it all.
The over-the-top story plays almost like an R-Rated episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer as it follows co-ed fraternity/sorority pledges concluding a scavenger hunt in an abandoned mansion they must spend Halloween night in. When they unwittingly unleash an ancient evil from an cursed book they begin to tear each other apart mentally and physically. The mostly-unknown cast delivered fantastic performances and included a few of my favorite genre actors; Brad Dourif as Professor Kapps and Tiffany Shepis as Marsha.
The Hazing was fun to revisit and I was surprised with how well it had held up over the last decade. I highly recommend it for any fans of The Evil Dead series and B-Movies in general, you’ll be more apt to appreciate the not-so-subtle nature of this unique Halloween schlockfest. Check back next week as I dig into another film and we come one week closer to All Hallows Eve!