RGV Horror Club reviving love for genre with camp of terror

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HIDALGO — The city of Hidalgo is bracing for some horrific, family friendly fun just ahead of the Halloween season.

The third annual Camp Hack-N-Slash Movie Festival is set to slash its way back on Saturday, Sep. 30 at The Historic District.

The event is the brainchild of the twisted minds at RGV Horror Club, a local group of horror movie fanatics hoping to spread a little love and terror throughout the Rio Grande Valley.

“We started this as a horror movie festival celebrating Friday the 13th fanatics and movies,” Charlie Barrios, marketing project manager for the Hidalgo Economic Development Corporation, said. “It’s been very successful, and it’s been growing year to year. I think this year is not going to be an exception.”

The Historic District features a number of local shops and eateries along Gardenia Avenue and South First Street, centered around a large new wooden stage and a short walk from the Old Hidalgo Pumphouse Museum and World Birding Center.

“The area is being developed,” Barrios said. “The area is becoming more tourist friendly and beautiful. I think everyone that is going to show up and everyone that is a horror fanatic is going to enjoy themselves in the beautiful outdoors.”

The event will feature venders, live music, outdoor movies, ax-throwing, archery, and fishing and kayaking, among other camp-like activities with a horror-movie twist.

“The activities are pretty much like what you would have at a summer camp but with a horror theme to it,” RGV Horror Club Administrator Joe Cruz explained.

“For God’s sake, we have math camp, we have science camp, we have band camp, so why not a horror camp that helps break some barriers?” RGV Horror Club Founder Daniel Menchaca said.

Menchaca and Cruz have shared a love for horror films for as long as they can remember. By day, Menchaca works as a pizza delivery driver and Cruz works as a manager at an auto parts store. By night, they lead a group, over 7,300 members strong on Facebook, with the goal of spreading their infatuation with the horror genre.

Daniel Menchaca, RGV Horror Club organizer, look over a site near the Hidalgo Pumphouse Museum on Thursday, Aug. 17, 2023, in Hidalgo. (Joel Martinez | [email protected])

“As far as horror-themed events, it’s a really small demographic of people here in the Valley,” Cruz said. “How many horror-themed events do you have down here?”

“Not much,” Menchaca answered.

RGV Horror Club was established in 2013 as a collective of other horror lovers. Aside from sharing their passion for horror films, they have organized numerous events throughout the Valley in an effort to grow and pass along their shared love for the genre with future generations.

“We’re just a group that’s all about horror,” Menchaca said. “We love horror films, so we try to get like-minded fans to join in on the spirit of it. We’re just trying to break barriers and trying to redefine the norm.”

Menchaca said that part of his organization’s mission is to destigmatize the image that many individuals may have for horror-loving individuals.

“Ten, 15 years ago, horror was still regarded as something that’s ugly. Like, if you’re into it, then you’re into Satanism or some other kind of crazy f-ed up stuff,” Menchaca said. “Granted, that may be a little true as far as the crazy stuff, but I ain’t no Satanist. I ain’t no devil-worshiper. Am I a little weird? Definitely. But I’m definitely not messed up from horror.”

“We’re trying to break down barriers and say that not all people who are into horror films are complete psychos. I’m rational… mostly,” he added with a laugh.

Cruz said that the oversaturation of superhero movies in the mainstream adds fuel to their burning desire for horror and the unorthodox.

“We want to make this a little more accessible to people,” Cruz said. “It’s not just about slashing and blood and all this. It’s also about the art — masks, special effects. There has to be a passion for this.”

Camp Hack-N-Slash Movie Festival is free to the public from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Wristbands for some activities will be available for purchase on the day of the event for $7 each, or two for $10.

For more information about the camp or RGV Horror Club and their upcoming events, visit their Facebook page.