Kane Hodder, one of the most instantly recognized and respected names in horror, turns 61-years old this Saturday, April 8th. With over a dozen projects currently filming or in pre-production, he’s clearly got the stamina of actors half his age and the staying power of a living legend. Simply put: The man is a fucking machine!
The stuntman-turned-actor became synonymous with upper-echelon horror icon Jason Voorhees; while he’s not the only actor to don the infamous hockey mask, he’s absolutely the most enduring and a fan favorite by leaps and bounds. As Jason in Friday the 13th Parts 7-10, Hodder’s nuances became integral to the role; he displayed an incredible ability to emote—no small feat through an emotionless mask. His sharp side-glances, his style of pursuing victims, the way his shoulders and chest heave with every breath: these became the slasher’s hallmarks. While 7 through 10 may not represent the greatest era of the Friday the 13th franchise, these were the years that solidified Jason, and this has everything to do with Hodder’s influence.
His knee-jerk association with Jason, however, has completely eclipsed his early career history; it’s bit of a double-edged machete, if you will. Indeed, Hodder was a top-tier physical actor before he became everyone’s favorite slayer. Just a year after his sophomore performance in Jason Takes Manhattan, he donned an equally iconic mask to perform stunts as Leatherface in 1990’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III. Before that, Hodder had performed featured stunts in earlier films including The Hills Have Eyes II, House and House II: The Second Sory, as well ass DeepStar Six (among others).
Stuns aren’t something you get into if you’re looking for career longevity; it’s a field for folks who are strong enough to take a beating and healthy enough to heal fast. This makes Hodder’s fortitude in the industry all the more remarkable. Since his first turn as Jason, he’s risked his life doing stunts in a mind-boggling number of horror hits, including: Seven, The Fan, Spawn, Wishmaster, Children of the Corn V, and The Devil’s Rejects.
In addition to outlasting his peers, Hodder is another rarity as a stuntman who successfully transitioned into acting. While his subtleties as Jason prove he’s an exceptionally skilled communicator, performances both masked and exposed prove he’s a skilled thespian in every regard. He ironically appears as a security guard in Jason Goes to Hell, where he’s killed by “Jason” in an extremely meta-moment. He also had memorable turns in Pumpkinhead II and Daredevil. Still, his work in the last decade plus prove he’s only recently reached his acting prime.
Hodder killed it as the sleazy limo driver in Danielle Harris’s directorial debut: Amongst Friends (2012). He had a small but scene-stealing moment in Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon in 2006. Hodder showed himself to be skilled in horror and comedy in 2014’s underrated Bigfoot flick Love in the Time of Monsters; he even played himself (very well, I might add) in Digging Up the Marrow (also in 2014).
Most recently, he’s formed a demented duo with fellow horror icon Bill Mosley. In Charlie’s Farm, we find Hodder on the opposite end of a blade-wielding psychopath; he plays boxer Tony “The Hitman” Stewart. In Old 37, Hodder and Mosley play a team of sadistic killers who pose as ambulance drivers. While the film has more flashbacks than an acid-head from the 1960’s, Hodder steals the show at every turn as a terrifying yet conflicted beast of a man; ultimately, we feel sorry for the guy… well, kind of!
It was through his collaboration with Adam Green, beginning in 2006, that Hodder became a horror icon twice over: Victor Crowley of the Hatchet franchise is the 21st Century’s premier mutant mutilator. Completely unrecognizable beneath layers of foam and latex, Hodder once again displays his rare abilities to convey both fear and humanity. He acts using his entire body in a way that sets him apart from even skilled body actors, allowing him to speak volumes even when his characters are mute.
Like Jason and Victor Crowley, you just can’t keep Kane Hodder down. With over three decades of dedication under his belt and no signs of slowing, we can expect to see a lot more of Hodder for many more years to come. Rock Paper Scissors, currently in pre-production, will be a Friday the 13th franchise reunion of sorts, when the “Greatest Jason” joins the “First Jason” on screen; Hodder and Ari Lehman, who freaked out a generation when he burst from Crystal Lake in 1980, will play security guards. Rock Paper Scissors is also written by original Friday the 13th scribe, Victor Miller.
From myself and my Pop Horror colleagues: Happy Birthday Kane Hodder; we’re looking forward to many more years of kills and thrills!
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