Not often do the worlds of horror and musicals cross over. Aside from a few notably strange blends—The Rocky Horror Show and Repo! The Genetic Opera of course, along with the elusive but acclaimed Evil Dead musical extravaganza—and other efforts that missed the mark (did you know there was a Dracula musical? There’s probably a reason you didn’t.), these genres are polar opposites. How does one combine the melodrama and cheese of a musical with the dreadful macabre of horror? By being SLASHED! That’s how.

Premiering at midnight on June 9th as part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival, SLASHED! The Musical puts the summer camp massacre genre of the 1980s to music. A group of morally questionable teens arrive at Camp Freedom, only to learn from the local Looney Lucy that the area is cursed by the vengeful spirit of a boy who died “because everyone was fu**ing.” Do they believe her? Of course not. But as they sing and dance through a series of classic slasher “sins,” they realize the curse may be more than a campfire story.

The premise is bold, to say the least—the balance of horror know-how and compository flair is hard to strike. Composer and writer Sean Keller does it with style, though, paying suitably cheesy homage to slashers and showing serious knowledge while also poking metafictional fun. Keller knows and loves this genre, flaws and all, and the subtle references to other infamous summer camps make this perfect for slasher fans. It’s also rare that you get to see a masked murderer sing a mournful ballad while hacking young people to bits. Things like this don’t come along every day.

The story doesn’t simply present the tropes and check-mark them off, either. The presence of Paige, a tough-as-nails savior whose knowledge of these curses may save the youngsters from doom, offers a fresh narrative twist. Her Buffy-esque persona and the show’s satirical look at typical slasher morality make the plot intriguingly unpredictable. The nods to the genre’s unusual conservatism when it comes to premarital sex—just a step above Evangelical doctrine—are fantastic, especially when Keller employs the parody as a plot device. It fits right into the current meta-slasher craze, from Scream Queens to The Final Girls.

Much of the show’s success comes from the cast’s gung-ho attitude and strong direction from Chelsea Stardust, whose cinematic creations can be found on Crypt TV. Without a group of game actors, such a risky concept could easily fall flat, but this group of eager victims pulls off the humor brilliantly. Standouts include Kristyn Chalker as our punk rock hero Paige, Fayna Sanchez as Looney Lucy, and naturally Sean Keller himself as killer Peetie Jergins.

Stardust commands the cast well, balancing actual character information with slapstick humor, and ensures that even the limited staging has aesthetic—the blood-red lights and whispery musical stings add atmosphere. Even the costumes nod to the era with subtle clues that make you look closer. While it plays on cinematic tropes, this is clearly meant for the stage, and it translates with a broad-stroked finesse. Rebekah McKendry choreographs well within the small space, hilariously turning axe swings and damning sexual acts into theatrical dance routines.

As part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival, SLASHED! has a constrained scope and running time. At a lean 35–40 minutes, this show completes its arc, but leaves plenty of room to grow. It doesn’t create anything new narratively, and that’s not its goal: it succeeds in turning this campy genre into a witty, entertaining, and gleefully silly musical. One can only hope the creators will be able to extend their story and expand the staging. If we’ve learned anything from the immortal reigns of Freddy and Jason, little Peetie Jergins has a few more sharp tricks up his rotted sleeve. For now, it’s a fast and furious love letter set to music, and it’s a dream come true for slasher fans.

[Photo Credit: Above photo by Ama Lea.]