I was 13 years old when Kane Hodder made an impact in my life. It was the summer of 1989 and a friend of mine and myself journeyed to the local theater for opening day of Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan. We were waiting in anticipation as Jason was now going to be killing off New Yorkers instead of camp counselors. As the film started and we got a glimpse of some bare breasts as a man and a woman on a boat are making out, that's when real evil hit: the usher of the theater came by and kicked us out. As we argued with the guy that we were old enough to see the film, I could see Jason aiming a dart gun at the guy, killing him. Sure, I saw the film as soon as it came out on VHS but I wanted to see Jason on the big screen so bad, my little pre-pubescent mind couldn't handle the disappointment.
In the summer of 1993, I took my girlfriend at the time on our one month anniversary dinner...and then dragged her to see Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday. At dinner, the trailer for the film played at the T.V. hanging over by the bar so I quickly jumped up and ran to see it as my date sat alone at the table.
In the spring of 2002, I took my other girlfriend (whose now my wife) to see Jason X on the big screen. Not being a horror fan but not wanting to disappoint me at the same time, she went reluctantly and sat thru it. Kane Hodder has always played some sort of part in my life, especially being a huge Friday the 13th fan. Now, with Hodder's new book Unmasked (co-written by Michael Aloisi) out on shelves and a whole slew of movies under his belt, Hodder is now a horror icon, a legend to horror fans.
This interview wouldn't have been possible without the permission and help of my good friend John Aranza who runs one of the best goddamn stores around, Horrorbles. Horrorbles is located in Berwyn, IL and it's the home for horror (I even taught a horror screenwriting class there) with posters, toys, movies, and memorabilia. Interviewing Mr. Hodder at Horrorbles was all the more fitting and I thank my friend John from the bottom of my bloody heart for getting me this interview.
James Klein: You started out as a stunt man before you became an actor. How did you break into being a stunt person and what drew you to that career move?
Kane Hodder: I broke in very slowly, extremely slowly. It took eight years really to get something working. I thought it would be a great career to have. I didn't realize just how difficult it was to get into it when I wanted it to start. I just got...I got bitten by the bug by doing something crazy and getting paid for it. So I thought I'd like to try it. It took forever. I still do a lot of stunt work, even when I am playing certain characters because it almost always has some stunt activity involved with that character that I play. I still choreograph the stunts that I do for movies. I still love it.
JK: One of your first roles was in Lone Wolf McQuade with Chuck Norris. What was it like working on one of your first films and working closely with such an icon like Chuck Norris?
KH: Actually it wasn't my first movie but it was my first movie I was on for an extended period of time. Um...it was fantastic because I am sure that anyone that was ever talked about Chuck will say he is a great guy which he is. He's a pleasure to work with. A great guy to do a fight scene with because he knows his business. There's a lot of actors that think they know how to fight but they don't, they end up hurting you. But he's a great guy and we had a lot of fun because we did all kinds of different stunts in that movie. From fights to ya know even some car work. It was the first time I was ever on location for awhile, down in El Paso for a few months. And it was interesting working with David Carradine too.
JK: Oh I bet. It's hard to believe you played "Older Geek" in Hardbodies...
KH: When I was 29.
JK: You were 29 years old, huh? Was this a challenge to play a geek?
KH: No, I'm an idiot.
KH: I just basically tried to look as stupid as I could with what I was wearing. Everything I had put on, all of my wardrobe, everything I did with my hair was all my idea to look as stupid as possible. I have a big...I have an afro in that movie.
KH: I had...um...like a pedo-stashe. But it was still fun and we were doing a lot of fun things with a lot of topless girls on the beach.
JK: How were you casted and chosen for the part of Jason in Friday the 13th Part VII?
KH: I was the stunt coordinator on a movie called Prison. We shot in Wyoming. It was Renny Harlin's first American movie as a director and I was doing the stunts. Almost everything in it, all the stunts I did myself because we didn't have a budget to bring people up there so I did everything myself. Then at the end there is a character called Forsythe that was suppose to be a rotted corpse-looking thing and the make up effects guy said to me, "Well, your the stunt guy. Would you wear the costume?" So I put on the make up. It was prosthetics head to toe, took three hours. Dentures, lenses, everything. I really enjoyed working like that and the make up effects guy was John Buechler and he was impressed by the way I worked in the make up...this is what he says. Then the following year he was hired to direct part VII and he said, "I want that guy to play Jason." So it's basically because of Buechler.
JK: That's awesome. Now, were you disappointed when you saw the final cut of the film with all of your best scenes being edited or edited out?
KH: Of course. Every kill that we had shot had been so much more graphic then what was shown in the final version of the movie that it was very frustrating...it was frustrating for me because I knew how cool it looked when we shot it. But I can't imagine how it was for the make up effects people that did all of that work and none of it was shown. So yeah, it was very frustrating. It seemed like it was just the timing of the movie, they just completely gutted everything out of that movie.
JK: Yeah the MPAA was pretty tough at that time. Can you explain the ending of Friday the 13th Part VIII?
JK: (laughs as well as Michael Aloisi)
KH: I can't, I still don't understand it myself so...(laughs) that's an easy answer. I really don't know...I'm not sure.
JK: What was it like going on Arsenio Hall as Jason?
KH: (Laughs) It was fantastic. They told me I was going to be a guest on the show and I said, "What do you mean a guest?"
"Oh yeah, you're gonna be in the make-up, in the real costume and you'll be on the couch as a guest."
"What do you want me to do?"
"Just be in character."
KH: That's what I did, I didn't say a word and that was the whole gag.
JK: Was Arsenio Hall involved with the gag at all?
KH: Oh yeah.
Just then Michael's phone goes off suddenly and he quickly turns it off. Kane slowly turns his head to Michael, looking furious as if he just insulted the man.
MA: (leans over to the recorder) Sorry.
Everyone in the room erupts in laughter, even Kane.
KH: Yeah I think it was his idea.
JK: Oh it was his idea?
KH: And he didn't even tell me what he was going to ask, so it would be more spontaneous.
JK: You did stunt work with Steven Seagal on some of his movies. Out For Justice and then Under Seige...
KH: And Fire Down Below.
JK: Fire Down Below. What's it like working with Seagal compared to Chuck Norris?
KH: It's quite different.
JK: Very different?
KH: Yeah. (chuckles) Because Chuck Norris does not want to hit you (pause with a straight face as if he's done).
JK: Oh ok (laughing)
KH: Use your own imagination. Chuck does whatever he can to not make contact with you.
JK: Alright...Steven does.
KH: I didn't say that.
JK: I got a chance to talk to Erin Gray briefly at Comic-Con this year and we talked about Jason Goes To Hell and she said she had a blast working on the film; how about you?
KH: I did. I was just disappointed I wasn't in the movie more as the character. But at the same time it was by far the most uncomfortable Jason version I ever had to wear. I don't know why but it was ten times as hot as any other suit I ever had on. I had to wear a cold suit under it. It's a vest that circulates ice water. Much like NASCAR drivers have to wear, just to keep my body cool enough. So at the same time, I was wishing Jason was in it more but I was thankful I didn't have to get in the suit more.
JK: Was that costume more difficult to wear than the Uber-Jason costume?
KH: Oh much more. Yeah. Uber-Jason wasn't that bad.
JK: Why did it take so long for Jason X to come out to theaters? It seemed like it took forever.
KH: From what I understand there was a big turnover with the big shots at New Line in between having shot the movie and the release. New people coming in, delayed it, they wanted to put out other things...this is what I was told so I am not sure but that's what I think it was.
JK: You got a chance to work as an associate producer on the film Fallen Angels with a ton of big genre actors. What was that like producing and acting at the same time?
KH: You know, I didn't have much to do as a producer. I had a lot of input on who was cast in certain roles, maybe a few story points but an associate producer really doesn't mean a whole lot. That's usually...an associate producer credit is usually some one who is given a minor role in getting the movie made so they just give him an associate producer credit.
JK: Your next iconic character has to be Victor Crowley in the Hatchet films. How does Crowley compare to Jason?
KH: He's much more handsome. They are similar in that neither of them speak and they do the same kind of thing but Victor is just a little more manic and unpredictable. That's by design, I thought that this is the kind of character that, well with Jason I always thought I don't really care if you know what he's gonna do, your still not going to escape. I always thought that was fun to do with a character. With Victor, I wanted to make it a little different where you don't really know what he's gonna do.
JK: Now you played serial killer Ed Gein in Ed Gein: The Butcher of Plainfield. Did you go and watch or re-watch Texas Chainsaw Massacre or Deranged or even look at Steve Railsback's performance to prepare for the role?
KH: No, I did not. I knew the whole story about Ed because I am a true crime fan. I read...that's all I read really for the most part. I read about Gacy, went to his house. Been all over the country visiting locations where serial killer's did their work. So I already new the whole story and of course I had already seen Chainsaw and stuff but I don't really see that much of a correlation between the two myself.
JK: How did you get involved with Hollywood Ghost Hunters?
KH: My buddy Rick McCallum and I just decided to fund the group ourselves. We thought there is all kind of ghost hunting groups but nobody that makes a living trying to be scary is going out and trying to get scared themselves. So we thought it would be cool if a group of horror people were ghost hunters themselves and let the tables turn on ourselves as well.
JK: My last question I have is we have Kane Hodder stuntman, Kane Hodder actor, Kane Hodder producer, and Kane Hodder the author. What's it like...
KH: (turns to Michael Aloisi) That's right, author baby.
MA: He can't write.
Everyone laughs again.
JK: Did you enjoy working on the book?
KH: Yes I did. Basically, I just told my story and Mike did all the work. He wrote the book and it was just me telling all of the stuff that pertains to my life and even things I had never told anyone before.
JK: Alright, that's it.
JK: Thank you so much for taking the time in doing this interview, seriously thank you.
KH: (shakes my hand) Thanks!