Kane Hodder is truly one of the most recognizable faces of horror, in spite of the fact that he’s kept it hidden behind a mask for most of his three-decade long career as the iconic slasher Jason Voorhees in most of the Friday the 13th films. But he’s also an admirable stunt man with a powerful history, one now fully documented in a resonating memoir that should interest any serious horror fan in Unmasked: The True Life Story of the World’s Most Prolific Cinematic Killer.
We were lucky enough to survive a quick talk with the masked cinematic killer himself for a brief chat about his current projects, his work, and the future of horror. Don’t get scared – read on and learn more about one of the greatest horror personalities of all time!
For more info where to buy Unmasked or just to keep up with all the Hodder news you can use, be sure to check out his official website at the awesomely named HodderKills.com!
Unmasked had a raw, powerful voice with a very natural flow to it. Have you ever given thought to writing your own fictional characters since your life already resembles a film on its own?
KANE: [laughs] Well, I mean I haven’t really thought about that too much. I have never, I had always known I was going to tell my story, but I didn’t anticipate telling so much of my life. You know, I wanted to talk about the career and maybe a little bit about the burn injury and stuff, but once I started telling it, I just decided, you know, fuck it, I am just going to tell everything good and bad, and there is plenty of bad as you know, plenty of hard stuff to read, so and coincidentally that’s what people respond to the most.
That’s what they always talk about regarding the book is the personal stuff because you know, I had read actors biographies in the past myself, and I always thought, well, that was good, that was all the career stuff, but I kind of wanted to read some, you know, stuff, and so that’s when I decided to just, you know, I will tell everything then. I mean it’ll be hard to read sometimes, but it is accurate and nothing is blown out of proportion of the reader’s sake, so I am happy with the final outcome.
After so many different roles over the years would you probably consider the moment that you pushed to strive for excellence your injury? Do you think that was the turning point for where you decided, yes, I am looking to give this my absolute, 100% best?
KANE: I mean the injury certainly was a major factor in my career, but you know, I had just started in the stunt business. This was in my first year, and people thought well, I guess that will end your aspirations to be a stunt man when you almost die. I mean your first year, but you know, I even remember back to being in the hospital, and it never occurred to me to do something else. It was just okay, I got to get out of here so I can get back to trying to be a stuntman. It, I don’t know it’s odd I guess to think about it that way, but it never really was a consideration that I do something else.
I loved my limited experience with the business and just couldn’t wait to get back to it, knowing that I had learned a lot, and learned a big lesson that, you know, would help me in the future, but I just wanted to get back to work even though it almost killed me. No matter what obstacles are thrown in front of you, you’re still going to do what you want to do, and that eventually will make you successful.
I agree, and that’s what I felt resonated with me with your book. No matter what you overcame you still persevered. You made it.
KANE: Yeah. I mean, you know, I had to get lucky also, you know, I mean you have to put the work in and dedicate the time and stuff which in this business you also have to get fortunate. You know, it’s both factors to be successful and because there’s plenty of people that work their ass off to be in this business and not made it, and no fault of their own. They just, you know, didn’t get the fortunate breaks to, so I think it’s a combination of both./p>
With The Killer In Me and the blog you made a great companion piece that shows a lighter side to the real life terror that you faced. I enjoyed reading about every time you go out with Mike, and you scare him to death. What do you think is the most horrific thing that you have done to him just to mess with him?
KANE: Oh, wow! Well, you know, it’s funny because my son Reed and I have been editing Killer and I episodes out of all the footage that we have shot on the whole book tour and trips we’ve gone to Europe and stuff. We’ve always shot everything that Mike and I have done, so that we now have visual episodes that are equally as entertaining as the blog that he writes, and even more so because you are actually watching what I have done to him. [laughs] I don’t know what’s the worst thing, but there are so many fun things, nothing so bad that. . .that I could say, “Wait a minute. You complained about being a bully when you were bullied when you were a kid, and now you are kind of bullying your friend,” so I don’t want it to be like that. It’s more practical jokes. But Reed and I have put together so far nine episodes which are almost like you could call them “webisodes.” They are 10 minute episodes of, you know, visual versions of The Killer and I, and it’s very, very funny.
You generally play masked or disfigured killers with a kind of quiet tension about them, so you can’t rely on your expressions to do your work for you like some actors. You’ve got to make them believable. You certainly do, so how do you go about injecting the right amount of horror into your psychopaths?
KANE: Well, you know, as you said it’s very hard to come across as scary when you can’t use your voice or your facial expressions. It’s a big challenge to look intimidating that way, and what I do is, you know, try and do it with body movements and stuff like that. Probably the biggest thing is like for instance with the Jason character. I always found that when Jason was motionless and staring somebody down that he didn’t look that scary in the past because of the fact without the voice or the face, so what I did was when I first got the role, when Beekler told me that I was going to play Jason in part seven. I got in front of a mirror and stared at myself, and I thought, “Oh, man if I can’t make a face, what am I going to do to look more intimidating?” and that’s when I came up with the breathing thing, and to this day people always talk about how they loved the fact that I do the heavy breathing, and it just makes the character look like he’s just about to do something even though he’s motionless, and to me it just looked like much more terrifying when I was heaving my chest while breathing just like, “I am about to fuckin’ kill you, so I wouldn’t stick around if I were you.” So . . . [laughs]
Then the other thing is that I would never, and that’s even with Victor Crowley. I never over rehearsed what I am going to do in a scene because I don’t want it to look rehearsed, so a lot of times in the Jason or the Victor character, I will not know exactly what I am going to do in a shot sometimes until the camera rolls and I will just do what feels natural because if I don’t know what I am going to do, then there’s absolutely no way it can look rehearsed. So, you know, some of the most effective scenes that I have done in the past I think are where I did something just as a reflex, and I trusted my instincts and most often I was right.
These days, horror movies all give the same vibe. Everyone wants a CG monster, or some regular person just lopping people’s heads off. There’s no real sense of finesse though. There’s no spirit to it like we had in the ’80s, early ’90s. Do you think that’s a trend that’s going to resurface and rise up and become popular again, or do think that the age of horror is kind of receding?
KANE: No, I mean it goes through stages, certainly, one kind of horror movie will do well, and then all of a sudden there’s a glut of similar-themed movies, but, you know, I think the horror fans will always like the stalking, multi, murdering characters that you can’t escape, and I think that’ll always be, you know, part of horror, and I don’t ever really over-analyze what horror is doing these days. I just enjoy watching it and seeing what people can come up with new, and you know, that’s why I really enjoyed it when Blair Witch came out because that was so different, and then the paranormal activity movie came out, again, it was different. So I like when people can come up with something new, but I still personally enjoy the old standards, and that’s kind of why Hatchet has done well because we kind of went back to the basics, and the fans embraced it, so . . . We owe everything to the fans, and I certainly understand that myself.
Thanks so much for your time, and for the brief chat!