Fans of Friday the 13th have gone through a lot over the past several years. From lawsuits essentially leaving future franchise films dead in the water (for the time being), to the popular Friday the 13th: The Game halting further updates a few years back as a result of the lawsuit.
But the Friday the 13th fanbase has been devout in their support for keeping Jason Voorhees and the legendary franchise alive, either by organizing an incredible community to keep the game active, to horror content creators and filmmakers both creating new content within the Friday the 13th universe.
One such creation came from director/producer Vincente DiSanti and his studio Womp Stomp Films, when their epic fan film ‘Never Hike Alone‘ hit YouTube back in 2017, quickly going viral and become one of the best fan films in the Friday the 13th universe.
Now, DiSanti is gearing up for the highly-anticipated sequel to the smash hit; ‘Never Hike Alone 2‘.
I had a chance to talk with DiSanti about the film, his career, and his undying love for horror and Friday the 13th, during an inclusive interview with Gamactica.
“Horror films hooked me from a very early age. It started with Godzilla, Night of the Living Dead, and begging my mom to let me stay up late to watch Tales from the Crypt” DiSanti says of his love for horror. “One day at our local video rental store, I saw the first seven Friday the 13th films lined up on the shelf and had to know what that films were about. Most of them were already gone and so I ended up grabbing a copy of Jason Lives. Suffice to say, my love for the franchise was cemented right then and there.”
“As I got older, the Friday the 13th franchise became like comfort food on rainy weekend night” he continues. “I watched all the films countless times and almost became obsessed with trying to figure out why they had so many continuity issue. Searching for those answers brought me to the behind the scenes documentaries and introduced me to how films were actually made. In college, I pursued a degree in film and television with the hopes to one day work on a future installment of the series and eventually moved to Los Angeles to pursue that goal.
By the time I got to Los Angeles it was too late to find work on the 2009 Friday the 13th remake. When another opportunity looked like it was never coming, I decided it might be fun to make a short fan film on my own. My goal was to take all my professional experience, combine it with years of watching and studying the franchise, and put together what I thought would be a solid proof of concept on how Jason could be relevant in modern horror.”
‘Jason Lives’ wasn’t just the film that made DiSanti fall in love with the Friday the 13th franchise, it’s also where he was introduced to the quintessential Jason.
“My favorite Jason is CJ Graham’s portrayal in Jason Lives. Jason is absolutely terrifying in the film” he says. “He’s bigger, stronger, and feels no pain. The way he dispatches most of the cast blows just about every installment out of the water. His costume is simple and straight forward. Tom McLoughlin created an endless array of iconic Jason shots that stick with you. The final scene with Tommy and Jason on the water is probably the greatest franchise moment of all time.”
Years later, DiSanti would be bringing his love for Friday the 13th to the screen, via his company Womp Stomp Films, for his own version of Jason, with ‘Never Hike Alone’.
“The goal with our Never Hike Alone films have always been the same, give Friday the 13th fans a reason to smile on Friday the 13th” Disanti explains. “Before the release of the first Never Hike, Friday fans received nothing but bad news on a regular basis. Development woes, never ending lawsuits, and projects and games getting shut down along the way. Despite all this, there is something truly special about fans pulling up their own bootstraps and entertaining each other with their own fan films. Films that are funded by other fans cheering them on.
It’s hard to imagine the studios haven’t taken notice of everything going on in the fan film world. At least I hope they have. An opportunity to work on an official Friday down the line would be nice, but if anything, I hope our films at least prove that fans of Friday the 13th are still here and willing to support new material. This fanbase is still going strong and worth investing in.”
DiSanti also provides a glimpse into the future for his company following Never Hike Alone 2.
“Upon the completion of Never Hike Alone 2, Womp Stomp Films will begin focusing on bringing bigger original projects to the independent film circuit” he says. “We have already had success with original short films like Imagine, Pathosis, and Judy. We are hopeful that the success of Never Hike Alone 2 with inspire our growing fanbase to support our original content as much as our fan films.”
The success of Never Hike Alone has placed expectations, and anticipation, higher for the upcoming sequel.
“A lot has changed since 2016” DiSanti said. “Prior to the Never Hike Alone’s release in 2017, fan films carried about as much public anticipation as going to the dentist” DiSanti explins. “It wasn’t until after the release of Never Hike Alone that the community started to come around. We went from barely being able to raise $20,000 to now working with an almost $200,000 budget for the sequel.
With that backing our team now has access to more cast, crew, and resources than we’ve ever had before. This allows us to give the Never Hike Alone storyline the conclusion it deserves, acting as an awakening for Jason to finally return to the town of Crystal Lake after decades of being hidden away in the forest. That means more kills, stunts, and surprises for fans who are waiting to see how this story ends.
“DiSanti has enjoyed being immersed within the Friday the 13th universe, and has even worked with some of the actors who portrayed some of the franchise’s iconic and memorable characters.
“I love working in the Friday the 13th universe” he explains. “The franchise has gone off in so many different directions, but it is comforting having this opportunity to help the franchise shed a lot of unnecessary weight and focus on telling stories that make Jason scary again.
Working with franchise alumni like Thom Mathews (Tommy Jarvis – Friday the 13th Part VI) and Vinny Guastaferro (Friday the 13th: Part VI) has also opened up this unique opportunity to take our story from Never Hike Alone and fold it seamlessly into the Tommy Jarvis storyline. With each installment, we focus on singular character experiences with Jason and how those experiences add up to a larger narrative.”
“With so much fractured storytelling in the Friday universe, it’s basically impossible to keep everything canon” DiSanti adds. “However, I don’t think fans have really missed any of the things we’ve either dropped or ignored from the original films. Even though we are pulling from Friday the 13th to create our stories, the fans have given us a lot of leeway in letting us create our own little universe.”
With Never Hike Alone 2 on the horizon, ViSanti says that fans can still get involved with the film.
“Since we hit our goal in April of 2022, any horror fans interested in becoming a part of the Never Hike Alone 2 project can still do so out our Indiegogo In-demand Campaign here: https://igg.me/at/nha2/
All of the items from the original campaign are still available along with new perks that be released over the course of the year” says DiSanti. “This includes getting your name in the credits of the film. This is a great opportunity to become a part of something that will be a part of the Friday the 13th community for a long time to come. ”
Talking so much about Friday the 13th begs the question of which Friday the 13th movies DiSanti considers to be the best. So, I asked him to rank his Top 5:
Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives
Friday the 13th Part VI: The Final Chapter
Friday the 13th Part II
Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning
Friday the 13th Part 3D
DiSanti and Womp Stomp Films have a busy year ahead of them, and Gamactica is happy to partner with them on Never Hike Alone 2, as well as follow their journey afterwards. As a die-hard Friday the 13th fan, I am extremely happy that the Friday the 13th universe has talented creators such as DiSanti creating new content, even as the franchise seems to be in it’s darkest years.