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We interview Vincente Disanti — the ultimate fanboy who became the ultimate filmmaker — about his eagerly awaited “Never Hike Alone” sequel.

I first had the pleasure of corresponding with Vincente DiSanti back in October of 2021 when he graciously agreed to a pleasant conversation with me about an independent horror film I was reviewing titled 13 Fanboy, a pseudo-autobiographical meta-slasher about a killer horror fan, directed by Friday the 13th franchise alum Deborah Voorhees.

DiSanti was awarded the titular role in that film after Ms. Voorhees went above and beyond in ensuring the best possible fan service by doing her homework and scouring the Friday fan community for a standout. The two had originally met on her podcast shortly after the release of the first Never Hike Alone and have remained close ever since.

Besides already having a foot in the door in a couple of actual Hollywood productions, Vincente’s fandom street cred was practically a no-brainer.

Not only had he written and directed the two undisputed crème de la crème Friday the 13th fan films, Never Hike Alone (2017) and its prequel Never Hike in the Snow (2020), competently portraying everyone’s favorite hockey-masked killer in both films to boot, but he’d also helped bring several other indie horror projects to life, including fan films Happy Halloween (in which he played The Shape) and Jason Rising: A Friday the 13th Fan Film along with award-winning shorts like the terrifying Imagine (2018) and Pathosis (2020).

In the two years since I have come to know him as one of the most passionate and driven filmmakers in the indie horror scene, and the way he’s gone about making his mark has been nothing short of spectacular.

A JOURNEY FROM THE SERENE MASSACHUSETTS TO THE HEART OF CINEMA

South Coast Massachusetts, with its quiet charm, was where Vincente’s narrative began. Yet, with a Film Production and Editing degree from Worcester State University in hand, it wasn’t long before L.A. beckoned. By 2008, DiSanti had already marked his territory in feature animation, rubbing shoulders with industry behemoths like Relativity Media, Lionsgate, and Netflix.

Each contribution honed his skills, setting the stage for his eventual and much-celebrated foray into horror.

2016 was pivotal. With the inception of WOMP STOMP FILMS, DiSanti passionately delved into live-action horror. Their magnum opus, Never Hike Alone: A Friday the 13th Fan Film, not only reigned supreme during the 2017 Telluride Horror Show’s opening night but also amassed a slew of accolades, validating DiSanti’s masterful grip on the horror narrative.

While Never Hike Alone was certainly not the first Friday the 13th fan film (that distinction goes to Friday the 13th Part X – To Hell and Back from all the way back in 1995!), it was the first to receive nearly universal acclaim for having the style and appearance of an actual Hollywood film, no doubt as a result of DiSanti’s professional experience coupled with his penchant for partnering with other skilled filmmakers who also happen to be fans willing to work on passion projects.

It was a game changer that was at least partially responsible for the resurgence of Friday the 13th fan films on YouTube and the raising of the bar that has yet to be surpassed in quality.

DiSanti has been quite vocal about his appreciation of amateur filmmakers who just want to “film a movie in their backyard” but also critical of others who seem to have seen the absence of canonical material from Paramount more as an opportunity to cash in than a chance to help fellow fans rough the 14-year drought at Crystal Lake that resulted from the highly publicized Miller vs. Cunningham lawsuit finally resolved this year.

THE EVOLUTION OF THE NEVER HIKE ALONE SERIES

Never Hike Alone was just the beginning. DiSanti subsequently plunged audiences into the chilling prelude, Never Hike in the Snow, its atmosphere thick with tension and foreshadowing and featuring a rare kill with Jason using a bow and arrow (the only other time this was done was in the 2009 remake).

The narrative was further enriched with Never Hike Alone: The Ghost Cut, a retelling that merged the two films and provided an alternate, intricate perspective, heightening the suspense leading to the sequel.

Now, with Never Hike Alone 2 on the horizon, DiSanti’s enthusiasm is palpable, particularly when discussing working alongside Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives alum Thom Matthews and his fellow Jason Lives actor Vinnie Guastaferro who played Tommy Jarvis and Deputy Rick Cologne, respectively and have reprised their roles in the fan films.

Their collaboration is especially thrilling for fans, promising to bring two beloved horror icons, Tommy Jarvis and Jason Voorhees, face-to-face in a climactic showdown that is set to be legendary.

DEEP DIVE: MORBIDLY BEAUTIFUL INTERVIEWS VINCENTE DISANTI

Morbidly Beautiful: Vincente, charting your trajectory in horror is like tracing a legend in the making. I asked you for a list of filmmakers who have influenced you, and among the greats like Craven, Carpenter, and Hitchcock, you brought up a few I’d really like to focus on who maybe haven’t received as much mainstream attention. To begin, how has Jim Cummings influenced your cinematic journey?

Vincente DiSanti: Jim Cummings is an indie filmmaking powerhouse. He wears multiple hats—acting, editing, financing, and more—with aplomb. His approach reminds me of audacious directors like the others I mentioned, but in short, he’s simply SHARP, WITTY, and DIFFERENT. That spirit, that drive to carve one’s path, is something I hope I can do within my own career.

MB: Your films possess a distinct aesthetic. Can you elucidate how Jeremy Saulnier’s unmistakable style has influenced your vision?

VD: Jeremy’s cinematic vocabulary is raw, almost visceral. He does such a great job at grounding his stories in a gritty, natural way. His films have pushed me to sort of reality-check my own storytelling. Blue Ruin, for example, inspired me to create a survivor character in a slasher setting who could take severe physical punishment, survive injury, and keep on going. It’s not the getting stabbed that kills you; it’s the hours of bleeding out that do.

MB: I have to get your thoughts on one of my personal favorites, David Bruckner.

VD: David is a great storyteller. I was actually very disappointed his Friday the 13th projects never made it to fruition. I think fans missed out big time. That said, everything else he has done, whether short or featured, is so well crafted. I thought his segment in Roxanne Benjamin’s Southbound anthology was brilliant, out-of-the-box thinking. I am also a big fan of his most recent efforts, The Ritual and The Nighthouse, as well.

MB: Friday the 13th holds a special place in the horror pantheon. How has this iconic series melded with your narrative craft?

VD: Friday the 13th has always been at the center of my horror world. I’ve watched the films so many times that constructing narratives within this universe comes very naturally at this point. I guess you could call it the culmination of years deeply immersed in its rich lore and arguing with fellow horror nerds online about the logic and continuity errors.

MB: I’ve said it before, and you kinda laughed about it, but it bears repeating that you may very well be the ultimate Friday the 13th “fanboy”. Not only have you now directed the most successful Friday fan film and its two sequels, but you’ve helped several other independent filmmakers in their own efforts to contribute to related projects, including playing the killer in Deborah Voorhees’ love letter to the horror community 13 Fanboy. I gotta ask, what was it like getting to sleep with Judie Fucking Aronson in that movie?

VD: (laughs) Well, first off, thank you for the “ultimate fanboy” title. It’s a badge of honor, really. I’ve been fortunate to immerse myself in the Friday the 13th universe and collaborate with some incredibly talented individuals along the way.

Regarding 13 Fanboy and then my scenes in it, that was an absolute honor. Judie is a phenomenal actress, and any scene with her, given her iconic status in the horror community, was surreal. It’s important to approach scenes like the one you mentioned (which was more of a “morning after” moment) with the utmost professionalism and respect.

We were both dedicated to making sure all of our scenes fit within the narrative and honored the film’s intent. Every moment on that set was about respecting the legacy of Friday the 13th (and, to a lesser degree, other genre films, including Halloween) and creating something special for the fans.

I absolutely loved Deb’s vision for the film, which has a ton of heart and some great performances from everyone’s favorite franchise alumni.

Morbidly Beautiful: As we edge towards the end, could you tantalize our readers about Ghosts in the Fog and your future pursuits?

Vincente DiSanti: Ghosts in the Fog marks a return to my animation roots and is a testament to our ambitions of the types of projects we can produce at Womp Stomp Films. We’re including it on the Never Hike Alone 2 Blu-ray as a bonus story set years prior to the events of Never Hike Alone. We are hoping this can pave the way for our first original animated project, “Ghost Chicken.”

CLIMAX APPROACHES: NEVER HIKE ALONE 2

Amidst the chatter and speculations, Never Hike Alone 2 stands as the nucleus of the horror community’s fervor.

This sequel, soon to premiere at the iconic Telluride Horror Show on 10/13/2023 (and, of course, YouTube), is anticipated to be a milestone in DiSanti’s illustrious career, particularly with the convergence of horror giants Jarvis and Voorhees. “JARVIS vs. JASON: One Last Time” may be the coolest tagline I’ve seen in years.

Vincente DiSanti is not merely a filmmaker; he’s a storyteller par excellence, redefining what it means to craft a masterpiece outside of the studio system – which begs the question: What would happen if the Crystal Lake team or even Blumhouse hired this guy and gave him a Hollywood budget?

What’s stood out to me the most is that for years now, he’s poured much of his time, energy, and resources into a series of movies from which he cannot profit. If that isn’t a true labor of love and a testament to his love of the horror community itself, I don’t know what is.

As fans wait with bated breath for Never Hike Alone 2, one thing is evident: Vincente DiSanti’s legacy is destined to be legendary, and hopefully, the world will not have to wait long to find out the answer to that question. The proof is in the bloody pudding.