When talking horror icons people recall the Kreugers and the Vorhees of the ’70s and ’80s at the click of a finger but what ever happened to modern-day slashers? That all changed when the Hatchet franchise burst onto the scene in 2006 with Victor Crowley hacking his way to the top of the list of horror icons of our time. This was by and large down to writer/director Adam Green’s brutal combination of savage CGI-free gore, gross prosthetics, his penchant for old school slashers and his dark, yet inspired, sense of humour.
Green resurrected Victor in 2010 with even more outrageous executions, a healthier dose of killer comedy and left audiences yearning for more. Our favourite Louisiana urban legend returned in Hatchet III, written by Green with a change in the name on the director’s chair. This time round direction came from BJ McDonnell but fans certainly shouldn’t be concerned for this change as he played a significant role in the franchise’s success since its origins, working previously as steadicam operator on the first film and progressing to main camera operator for Hatchet 2.
The third entry in the franchise hit the US back in June this year and recently screened at London’s Film4 Frightfest and the man behind all the make up, Kane Hodder (Victor Crowley) was kind enough to speak to me to discuss reprising his role and how much the character has evolved over the course of the three movies. Kane went on to discuss differences and similarities between Jason Vorhees and Victor Crowley and revealed a few other projects yet to come…
Before we actually get down to Victor Crowley business I’d like to ask you a little about how you got into acting. I believe your original intention was to be a stuntman, something which you continue doing now in unison with your acting work.
That’s right. Before that I was actually studying Geography and it was only whilst on a visit to Universal Studios that I realised what I wanted to do. I saw this stunt show put on there and I thought to myself “I’ve always liked being crazy and doing crazy things in front of my friends to entertain them so how cool would it be to be able to do this for a living and get paid for it.”
Not long after that I decided to go to a stunt school and, although the school doesn’t find you the work as it’s such a tough business, I kept trying and eventually it paid off and here I am today.
So you originally performed stunts which, without taking any credit away from you, is more of a behind-the-scenes thing as you aren’t centre stage so to speak. When you were actually offered your first speaking role where you hesitant to take it or were you all for speaking in front of a camera rather than just performing stunts and remaining more inconspicuous?
I wouldn’t say I was at all hesitant really. This was basically because by the time I was given a speaking role I had already played a lot of characters that wouldn’t necessarily speak – I was more often than not the bad guy who would fight the hero. By then I was really at home in front of the camera so it was really quite an easy and natural transition to make to go from stunts to acting with no dialogue to then get one line and get my ass kicked by the star and to then keep getting more and more lines. Before long a few directors put their faith in me to play some major roles and I managed to pull those off and it went from there.
Stepping into Jason Vorhees shoes was quite a challenge as the character had been around for eight years already but I just went into the film wanting to do justice to the character and honour him. That may sound kind of crazy but that’s how I felt about him and how I still feel about him.
So from one slasher franchise to another, let’s talk about your return for a third time as Victor Crowley in Hatchet III. When you went into the original film did you envisage coming back for a second and third entry?
Well, to be perfectly honest, I did because the director, Adam Green, always had this entire trilogy in mind before even filming the first film. He purposefully held back information in the first movie to be able to tell it later on. That might seem overly optimistic for a writer and director to assume that he would get a chance to film a sequel but that is exactly how he planned it.
The third film will reveal a lot of things to audiences and this is one of the reasons I love it so much. Also, as Adam already had all three films in mind this is why the second, and now the third, just pick up at the exact same moment that the previous film left off.
And did Adam write the franchise with you in mind as Victor?
Well he told me that he always had me in mind yes. The thing was, when he was preparing the first Hatchet movie he didn’t really know anybody in the business. He just happened to be speaking to a make up effects guy who was going to work on the first film and Adam mentioned to him how he great it would be to cast Kane Hodder as Victor. As chance would have it the make up effects guy was John Buechler who was instrumental in me getting the Jason Vorhees role and he just said to Adam “Would you like me to give Kane a call?”
Talking of make up, I have read that wearing all the prosthetics in Hatchet III was a serious ordeal and you have even said that it was one of the toughest things you’ve done so far in your career.
Well I would actually say it was harder and easier at the same time. I’m actually just looking at a picture of Victor in Hatchet III right now and the make up just looks so much fucking scarier this time.
In the first two films we used foam latex which is standard. For the third instalment Robert Pendergraft decided to use silicone which is both good and bad. Good because it is so much easier to apply and remove. In Hatchet 2 it took all of three and a half hours to apply the make up and another hour and a half to remove it every day. Now, with silicon, it took only one and a half hours to put it on and twenty minutes to take it off. The bad thing is that it all weighed about fifty pounds more but I would much rather act with all that extra weight on my head and shoulders than have to endure all that time sat in the make up chair. Sitting there just saps your energy and I so much prefer using my energy on set.
Maybe it’s just me but, based on footage I have seen, it looks like Victor’s character is much more physical and quicker than in the first two films.
Absolutely. I mean compared to Jason Vorhees, I never thought that Jason should be seen running as it just didn’t fit the character. When Adam came to me with the idea of Victor he made it clear that he wanted a character that was much more unpredictable and twitchy. That’s why we have made him so manic. I actually feel that as a result of this twitchiness we have created a much scarier character.
I don’t know whether fans are aware of it but over the course of the movies I have gradually toned down the twitchiness because at the very beginning Victor hadn’t really done a lot of killing so he was very nervous looking. In the third film, now that he has killed so many victims, I thought it was time to make him a lot more tenacious.
Apart from make up I know that Adam tries to keep things as CGI-free as possible. Did that make the work load a lot harder and also what differences did the new director, BJ McDonnell bring on board?
Yes. Adam absolutely loves keeping away from CGI and I totally agree with him. That ultimately means that everything has to be practically shot so it does put more of a time crunch on things but it certainly pays off.
As far as having B. J. as the director this time, Adam was always on set and it is his franchise. B. J. certainly did bring in his own little twists and nuances but the essence of the film is still a good old Adam Green Hatchet film. One thing I would say though is that there are some much bigger stunts this time.
Also, although all three films are set in New Orleans this is actually the first time we shot there and it’s the first time we filmed in the actual swamps. This means that the film has a much bigger scope as we were able to get much wider shots. Hatchet 2, in comparison, was all filmed on a camera stage. To cut a long story short, audiences can expect a much bigger scale movie and I really think this is the best Victor has ever looked.
I’m particularly happy with what Robert Pendergraft has achieved with the hair as I was never very happy with that until now. It’s certainly scarier now and we have got rid of the frizzy hairstyle and the wig kind of hangs over my face a bit like the wrestler The Undertaker.
You reiterate how scary the film is but would you not also agree that Adam Green likes to create a very tongue-in-cheek style or does he take it a lot more seriously than it actually appears?
Oh absolutely. I think he is one of the best in the business when it comes to writing humour in a horror film that is both entertaining and funny but not at the expense of the character and the scares. In all three films there is nothing at all funny about Victor’s character. What makes the films funny are the interactions between the other characters. Obviously that’s essentially down to Adam’s scripts but kudos also goes to his great casting decisions as all of the actors involved have added their own twists and comedic style making the films even more entertaining.
You also have so many other projects in the pipeline. I recently saw a trailer for another film you have called Sickle and I was quite surprised to see you as a law enforcement officer. Can you tell us a bit about that?
Well although I play a sheriff he is a totally twisted and murderous type. It was great doing this film with an old friend of mine, Tiffany Shepis, who I have known since the ’90s. We shot it in the middle of nowhere out in Arizona and I think you’ll enjoy it. It’s a really interesting Grindhouse feel movie.
You’ve also got a movie with Bill Moseley called Old 37.
That’s right. We play brothers in that one and it was great to work with Bill again. I think we have great chemistry together. In this film we drive an old ambulance and have a police scanner so that we can respond to 911 calls before the real response teams arrive on the scene. You can only imagine what we get up to in that one.
We’d like to thank Kane for his time and we encourage you to go and see Hatchet III which is released in US theatres today, June 14th. The film also premieres on both VOD and digital download today. Both cast and crew will putting in special appearances followed by Q&A’s at various locations throughout the week of release.
We’ll leave you with a red band clip from Hatchet III.