Alice in Slasherland—the latest from the Vampire Cowboys Theatre Company—is an amalgamation of crotch-kicks, fake blood, hormone-driven high schoolers, and other slasher-flick clichés. But its hokey humor and exaggerated fight scenes are probably only really appreciated by the troupe’s cult following.
The elaborate, if scattered, plot of Qui Nguyen’s play follows three teens and a talking teddy bear’s misadventures as they try to close a rift in the world’s fabric that has allowed murderous demons to run amok. The protagonist, Luis (Carlo Alban), falls for a demonically possessed goth schoolgirl, Alice (Amy Kim Waschke), as they and his high school crush and close friend Margaret (Bonnie Sherman) battle hellish creatures in the woods and in their high school’s halls.
Alice speaks in devilish rasps and blank-faced growls as she teeters between devil and mortal. Slasher Jacob (Tom Myers) mirrors the more gruesome Michael Myers, walking slowly toward his victims while wearing an expressionless white mask with jutting rabbit-ears. The snarky talking bear, Edgar, combines the horror-movie roles of Chucky and the “token black guy” (via ventriloquist Sheldon Best) with enough attitude to burst a locker’s hinges. But none of it is enough to overcome the play’s meandering plot and overtly cheesy jokes.
Slasherland is not the Alice in Wonderland interpretation its title suggests. The action-packed horror performance is more Halloween meets The Exorcist, with a dash of the Matrix (though that may be giving it too much credit). A shower scene is the only missing element in the litany of horror spoofs—but that might upset the balance of Vampire Cowboy’s geeky aesthetic.