As part of the Fantasia Film Festival and in anticipation of Raven Banner Entertainment’s special screening of Hatchet 3 at the Cineplex Forum in Montreal on Wednesday July 24th, Sound on Sight had the opportunity to sit for a chat with stunt man and horror icon Kane Hodder, who plays Victor Crowley in the Hatchet series. What follows is a transcript of the conversation.
Edgar Chaput: First and foremost thank you for sitting down with me and Sound on Sight. To begin with a general Hatchet question, what is it about the Victor Crowley character that attracted you originally back in ’06 and what is it about the character that encouraged you to come back for not one but two more films?
Kane Hodder: Well, I didn’t know who Adam Green was, nobody really knew of him, but I had a meeting with him and the reason I had the meeting was that John Beekler, who was the reason I became Jason, suggested me to Adam. Adam was saying “I have this horror film, I think it’s going to be financed and I’d love to see who we can get to play Victor Crowley.” Beekler said “What about Kane Hod?” Adam said “Yeah sure, I’ll call him!”Basically that’s what happened, that’s what I was told.
I had a meeting with Adam and something that almost never happens with someone that’s unknown, I got a tremendously good feeling about the guy. I could by talking to him, and I’ve been around long enough, that he was super motivated, knowledgeable and very, very creative. I thought “You know what?this is the one in one hundred guy I talk to that says they wants to do a horror film but feels like he’s going to have it happen.” So I read script and loved it because from my point of view, playing the killer that’s dispatching many people, it almost never happens that I read the script and the kills are written so creatively to the point where I say “Boy, I don’t have to add anything!” Never! With the Jason movies I always had to add my own twist. Not always, but almost every kill I had to add my own twist to make it more interesting and exciting. With the way Adam writes, even with the third movie, it’s amazing to me that someone is that sick in the head as I am to make me have to add anything. That’s Adam!
EC: There’s a common perception with the film fan community and amongst critics, lousy critics like myself, that as a series or franchise goes along, the law of diminishing returns applies: the second one is not as good as the first one, the third is not as good as the second one,… I your opinion, what is someone you, as one of the stars of the film, and the creative team have done better with Hatchet 3 in comparison to the first two?
KH: The main difference is that Adam, from the beginning, anticipated on doing three movies. Whether it would happen or not he had no idea. He had no idea whether it would go past the first one even. BUT, I know this from talking to him at the very beginning: he purposely held back information to be distributed throughout the three movies instead of just the one. You do one good movie and have success, then they want to do a sequel and most often the writer goes “Oh my god, what am I going to do now?” Well, not with Adam, he had it planned. That’s why Tony Todd was barely in the first one. It wasn’t an accident. He purposely did that and said “If we do a second one, that’s when you’ll learn about Tony’s story.”
With the third one, what I Iike so much is that a lot of storylines were wrapped up. Things that were told throughout the first two movies are finally explained in the third one, Again, by design, not by trying to think “Oh, now what?” I love some of the characters in the third one. The guy who owns Thomas Crowley’s ashes…
EC: Very interesting cameo, by the way.
KH: Yeah. As soon as you see the silhouette of that person you know who that is (chuckles). I think he’s scene is one of my favourites in the movie just because it’s so ridiculous. The look of Victor is way better in the third one. He actually looks scary now. The action is far more advanced with the killing of all the cops and stuff. And we shot the whole thing in New Orleans, that makes it have a bigger scope and certainly appearing to have a bigger budget even though it’s not.
EC: I’m glad touched upon, albeit briefly, on the fact that Victor Crowley looks scarier this time around. Physically at least, he’s doesn’t have quite the same visual presentation as in the first two. What was the impetuous to change his look, not too much but enough so you could tell, and did you have any input in that?
KH: After the second movie the makeup application and removal process was was the worst I ever had. It was the longest and the most difficult. I said we have to do something. If we make a third one, gotta do something about that. Now, it’s interesting because people say Victor looks this time and, you know, all of the shaping of Victor’s stuff that I wear is all identical to what the second one was but it’s different material so it photographs better. I think, even though all the pieces are identical, in size and symmetry, the way it photographs better and reflects the the light and absorbs whatever, it looks better. Even though it’s the same it’s just a different material. The hair is different.
EC: That’s sort of what I noticed. It almost looks as if he has more hair. I don’t know if my eyes were paying tricks on me…
KH: It’s just stringy. That’s the one thing about the character I never liked that much, that frizzy hair coming out like this (makes gesture with hands). It made him look goofy sometimes to me, in certain shots. So now the hair the hair is stringy and hanging in my face like The Undertaker. THAT looks scary.
There are some shots that BJ did of close ups of Victor, because Adam wrote a scene towards the end where I really have a face to face showdown with Danielle (co-star Danielle Harris) , that really could feature the makeup well. We know what happened in that scene!
EC: No spoilers!
KH: (chuckles) Nobody ever expected that. I was actually…when that scene happened, when you hear “Daddy,” I was actually crying, but you can’t really tell. I wish they had done a slightly better close up
Andrew Hunt (Raven Banner Entertainment representative): With all that makeup on your face it could have been perceived as sweat.
KH: yeah, but if it had been an extreme close up you could have seen it. It was an emotional I thought”Wow.” The music is great. I love that whole scene.
EC: it’s a great way to end the film.
KH: yeah, and Danielle got herself beat up pretty well at the end there because she did most of that stuff herself.
EC: really? She’s about doing stunts?
KH: Yeah. You can see, when you watch the movie again- are going to be there tonight? (Reference to special screening on Wednesday July 24rth)
EC: I go back to boring Fantasia films.
KH: well, she’s up on the tree, I’ve placed her on the tree carefully…
KH: Yes, and she falls off the tree. Whenever you watch it again, there’s a root that comes out like this and she falls down on it on her rib. Just bruised the fuck out of her. She got pretty racked up but she’s glad she did the scene.
AH: I lot of times you see something like that and you think it’s a set or something but you guys were around a real tree.
KH: Yeah. The only interiors in the whole movie were, you know, the police station, the cells and all that stuff. Actually, I guess where they went to pickup the urn too. Not really indoors but it appears to be. And by the way, when she (Danielle Harris) hits me with that urn, it was ‘breakaway’ but if you know anything about breakaway, depending on what the shape of the breakaway item is-
AH: And where it makes contact…
KH: right. First two takes: CLANK! And I didn’t have anything on my heads just the makeup. I just said “You gotta hit me harder otherwise it’s not gonna break.” CLANK! She just wouldn’t do it hard enough. I said “You REALLY gotta-” BABOOSH!
EC: You brought up the point that you cried while filming that scene. One of the things fans will notice is that this third film, and bit in the second film as I recall, but certainly this third one really starts constructing the curse of Victor Crowley. There’s a backstory and the character played by Danielle plays an important part. How important is something like the curse of Victor Crowley, the emotional aspect, for a guy like you, the guy in the prosthetic mask, who has to give a performance as a huge beast?
KH: Obviously, it’s nice to come full circle with the character. I’ve talked about this in interviews but I don’t know if people are aware of it, in the first movie I made Victor very, very twitchy, like he wasn’t sure what he was going to do. As the movies progressed, my feeling was that Victor was becoming more comfortable with killing people, so he doesn’t appear to be as twitchy anymore. That’s just my idea of the character. Because of things like that it was nice to have the third movie explain the curse more and then you could see “Ah, now I can see how Victor went through this transformation.” So, sure, as a performer it’s great to have the story told that way.
EC: It sort of makes the character, even though he’s a monster, a bit more focused.
KH: And also, for me, more consistent, more motivated. It doesn’t make sense to us, but you can see why, maybe, that he has become the way he is.
EC: It’s one of those details that not a lot of people would notice. Victor is just an ugly. “I just want to see people killed.” But there is something going on there in the script and with the actor.
Another Hatchet 3 question. It’s a new director. BJ McDonnell did work on the precious two films and Adam Green did write this third film, but he’s not directing. When you learned that someone else is taking over the reigns for the big finale, were you slightly worried and how different was it working with McDonnell as opposed to Green?
KH: Adam told me first that he wasn’t going to direct this one, yes, I was concerned. I thought “Uh-oh, I don’t want this one to have a totally different feel.” He hadn’t told me who he had selected and I was quite concerned. Then he said he was going with BJ, which surprised me because BJ hand’t directed anything, not to my knowledge. At the same time, at least it was someone who is in the family, someone that knows the history of all the films and has been there the whole time. I felt a bit more relaxed about that. But then again, I’m so used to Adam’s style of directing so it was still a little weird to get used to at first but it worked out fine.
EC: It’s sort of like the James Bond franchise where, maybe less so in the last decade or so, but a lot of the guys in the 60s and 70s and 80 who become directors and production designers were doing smaller roles in the earlier films.
KH: I think Rachel Talalay directed one of the Nightmare on Elm Street films, did she? I think so. And she was a PA on one of the earlier films. That’s what I was told. (Info later confirmed by Andrew Hunt)
EC: You do want a certain safety net when it comes to franchises. You don’t want the whole team to be different one film to the next. You want some consistency, someone who knows the ropes already a little bit, who can apply that familiarity but apply a bit of fresh blood, pardon the pun.
KH: This happens more often than you would think. It’s a good thing to keep in mind as an actor. Don’t treat a PA like shit on a movie because they be directing you in the years to come, and that happens!
EC: Maybe this is an obvious question, but what’s your favourite murder in the franchise and in Hatchet 3?
KH: Well definitely the ripping of the lady’s head by her jaw in the first one. That’s my all time favourite kill. BJ shot that, by the way, he did the 360 shot. Adam edited it in such a way that you really can’t see where the cut comes. Obviously, you see me put my hand in the actress’s mouth, then the camera starts going around and by the time it comes back around it’s in the prosthetic head’s mouth, but you don’t see where the edit it, so it shocked people when we saw it. They think “Oh yeah…” Then rrrriiipppp! “What?!? Wait!” There was no cut away to something else, so it was very effective.
You know, there’s a lot of good kills. The Schneiderman kill in Hatchet 3. You know who he is, that’s D Snyder’s kid, that’s why they call him Schneiderman.
EC: There’s a lot of humor in this movie. That said, a lot of the humor is from the human characters, the people who are going to die. We’re there any discussions about maybe, not making Victor Crowley a comedic character because that would kill the tone, but having him a part of one or two jokes?
KH: Yeah, there’s been some discussion about it, I’ve always felt that we should involve him. In the third one, there was a moment, and I think in the editing process BJ and Adam decided to downplay it a little bit, but there’s a scene where one of the paramedics falls down and I’m looking at him, he looks to his side and there’s a gator. The whole moment was supposed to be “Well there’s a gator there and Victor there. What the fuck do I do now?” Then the gator grabs him and rips him up. I even did a take where I went “Well, oh well.” (tilts head nonchalantly), so there was kind of a moment with a little humor from Victor, but I think the final decision was to not make him funny.
EC: The poor fellow who gets eaten by the crocodile probably had an easier death anyways as opposed to at the hands of Victor Crowley.
KH: You know who that was, right?
KH: That was Will Barratt. He’s the director of photography on all the Hatchet movies, all of Adam’s movies. He’s been with us from the very beginning, so they wanted him to be a kill also.
EC: You’ve been doing this for several years already and you’re an icon by now. What are some of the things that are done differently in the filmmaking business with respect to the horror genre?
KH: Most often, it’s changes that are for the better. The makeup application process has been changed so that it’s more comfortable for me, or photographs better. I wouldn’t say that I can remember anything at the moment where I look back and say “Ah, I miss the good old days” because it’s usually for the better. Other than too much cgi. I’m more of a fan of, maybe because I’ve been around for a while, but I’m more of a fan of the practical effects because I know how hard makeup effects and special effects people work on. I kind of tend to enjoy that more than something that somebody designed on a computer.
EC: I think a lot of people who enjoy films like Hatchet 3 also would prefer a film where it feels and looks like someone’s head is being torn off their body and there is real blood coming out.
KH: Even though the blood squirts out ridiculously fake, that’s part of the fun, like with Zach Galligan, when I rip his head off and his body comes back and it’s spraying out of definite streams. It’s kind of ridiculous but it’s part of the fun.
EC: If you could travel through time and space to any country or year since the beginning of cinema, what villain, be it in costume or otherwise that you’ve never had the opportunity to portray, would you like to play?
KH: I would say Frankenstein, the classic version. It’s always been my favourite type of character when I was a kid. I always loved Frankenstein as opposed to The Mummy, The Wolf-Man. They were all okay but Frankenstein, to me, was the shit, so that would have been the one. I had all the classic models and everything. And I loved monsters even when I was little. Frankenstein always seemed to speak to me.
EC: A last, quick question. You’re the director of a new (fictitious) film and it’s ‘Jason Voorhees vs Victor Crowley.’ Who’s left standing at the end of the movie?
KH: Well, first I’d make it so that it was debatable, just like the Freddy vs Jason movie I should have done, that I thought I was doing. The way they ended that, what I did like about it was that you had two opinions on who the winner was, so that’s how I’d do the Victor vs Jason thing. It’s gonna be hard for me to play both characters because I’m not letting somebody else take over the Victor role!
A big thank you to actor Kane Hodder and Leah Visser and Andrew Hunt from Raven Banner Entertainment for the interview opportunity!