Attention, “Friday the 13th” film fans: Jason Voorhees has a heart. (And we don’t mean the one impaled on his machete.) As the famous horror franchise’s hockey masked killer and uber-‘80s icon, stuntman and actor Kane Hodder has claimed a lot of nubile, teenage victims. But off-camera, the scary movie star is more interested in helping survivors.
Early in his stunt career, Hodder received nearly fatal burns over 50 percent of his body. So today he raises funds for burn survivors through the “I Helped Kane” program of Scares That Care (scaresthatcare.org), a nonprofit that mobilizes the horror flick community. And whenever the movie convention regular visits a major city, he visits hospital burn units to offer support and understanding to survivors, including the inevitably encountered super-fan of his frightening alter ego.
We grabbed a few minutes with the Crystal Lake killer to talk about the films, fire stunts and why his sons are chips off the Friday chopping block.
Why do you make a point of visiting hospitals when you’re touring?
I was seriously burned 35 years ago. It’s an injury where, unless you’ve been through it, you really have no idea what it’s like. Sometimes you get so down and negative in the burn unit; talking to someone who has been there can really help. I was visited myself by a stuntman, Chuck Couch; he didn’t know who I was. I had been in the business for barely six months. But it meant a lot. If I can ever help someone like that, I want to. I was in the hospital for over five months, and for the first four I wasn’t in a burn unit. It’s critical to be in a quality burn unit – and Mass General has one of the best in the country.
How did that delay impact your recovery?
Things got progressively worse, not better. I was in so much pain, I got a staph infection throughout the burn area, and the doctor told my family I might die. He was egotistical, and thought he could handle my situation. Many years later, after I realized he fucked me over and made me suffer because he was inept, I went to his office. I honestly wasn’t sure what I was going to do when I got face to face with him. I probably could have beaten him to death; I had so much hatred for this guy. But he looked me in the eye and admitted that had been wrong. It caught me off guard. It defused my anger. I walked out. Though I sometimes think that [anger] might be why I’m able to be so convincing with extreme violence on film. I think maybe I draw from my own past.
Did the experience put you off to stunts? Does anything scare you?
It never dissuaded me. Maybe it was my ego, not wanting to be defeated by a certain type, but I ended up specializing in fire stunts. There’s really nothing in life that scares me! Maybe because I’ve been through the worst hell I could ever imagine. But I’ve never been afraid of anything, not typical phobias anyway. I avoid doing horse stunts. Not because I’m afraid, I’m just not that good on a horse. (Laughs)
Movie time: horror conventions attract some, um, dedicated followers. Any fans ever freak you out?
Oh yes. A long time ago, one guy sent me a portion of his bodily fluid. Now that was nasty.
Scarier: stunts or sex scenes?
I thoroughly enjoy both.
You’re the only person to play Jason in multiple films, but haven’t appeared in the last few. Would you do another? What would you like in a sequel?
Absolutely. I wasn’t done with that character and was never given a reason for why I was replaced. I’d love to come back. Maybe Corey Feldman could return and we could work together. He’s another guy who instrumental to the franchise’s history and I’d love to do something with him.
How do you explain Jason’s infamy?
That he’s an unstoppable character. People love to see what will happen next: “What are you going to throw at him this time?” That’s what makes it so fun for a series like that to continue. And that trademark hockey mask of course. Nobody can forget that.
Speaking of that mask. With all your stunt work – can you actually play hockey?
(Laughs) No, I can’t! But actually – my sons Reed and Jace both play lacrosse, so I guess they wind up wearing a similar mask. And yes, that name is totally a nod to Jason. Jace plays for Beloit College now. He’s Number 13.