Zero hour had arrived for our interview, but when I nervously dialed the number, there was no answer. I left a voicemail with a message that I’d call back shortly if I hadn’t heard from him. Five minutes later my phone rang and the first thing that Kane Hodder told me encapsulated everything you ever need know about him.
The horror icon was running a bit behind because he was visiting a burn unit in Massachusetts in hopes of lifting their spirits with his story of survival.
Jackie Robinson once said that “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives,” and those words apply to Kane Hodder.
Over the course of our conversation I touched on the fact that Tobin Bell had mentioned several times that he gets asked what it feels like to be a horror icon but was unsure of how to respond, so I posed that very question to Hodder. The Q&A was for a television program, a fact not lost on Kane when he gave my query a moment’s thought and responded “Well, there’s gonna be a beep in there, but if feels fuckin’ great.”
That comment got us both laughing, but it was also indicative of a man who is very grateful for the opportunities he’s had in life.
A fact made very clear when we touched on the thoughts he’d had of ending it all while he was recovering from the burn incident he endured as a young man. I simply asked Hodder what his message would be to anyone who was struggling and didn’t feel as though they could go on.
Hodder contemplated a few beats before saying, “Not the typical advice, probably. At one point I was very, very, very down; and this was after my hospitalization with the burns. I was burned when I was 22, and you go through the trauma of the injury itself and then you have to realize that for the rest of my life I’m going to have to carry these scars as a reminder. I’ll never be able to forget what happened because I have all these scars.
So you get to a point where, at least I did, where I was very, very depressed and this was after I finally started healing and had started taking in what my life was going to be like for the rest of the time I’m here. I was very depressed and even contemplated whether it was worth going on, and the biggest thing I can say to people, I understand what you feel like when you say it may not be worth it anymore, do I really want to go through all this pain and live a life that was not what I wanted, maybe I should just end it now.
All I can say is, if I had done that, look what I would have missed. And it’s just one of those examples of, I understand you feeling like maybe you don’t want to do it anymore, but what might you miss if you do end it now?”
Kane began describing the time he’d spent with burn survivors and everything that happened throughout his career and commented once more, “It might be really terrible right now, but you don’t know what you might miss if you don’t stick it out.”
Not everyone will be a Hollywood stunt man or play Jason Voorhees four times or bring Victor Crowley to life, but the message from a man who had been bullied as a child and nearly died from his burns was crystal clear — something better is waiting for you down the road and it’s worth the fight to get there.
It’s beyond dispute that Hodder is one of horror’s most accessible stars. Always happy to smile and share stories with fans and offer his special version of a handshake by choking those brave enough to allow him to wrap his gloved, but exceptionally strong hands around their necks for a photo. However, it’s more than a hectic schedule of filming and traveling to conventions around the country and the world, it’s devoting what little free time he has to visit burn units and contributing to Scares that Care that speak volumes about a man who is undoubtedly a horror icon.
Before our initial discussion came to a close, I asked Kane if he’d be willing to sign a couple of DVDs. One would serve as a giveaway for the show and the other was for my nephew. Hodder agreed without hesitation, provided me the address to send them to and again he apologized for being tardy for our agreed upon time. I shook that off in an instant and shared that what had him running behind only deepened my admiration.
After we parted ways, I dialed my sister with a beaming smile and told her what I’d be sending my nephew, “Oh my God, he is going to flip!” I asked her to keep it a secret to maximize his reaction and she agreed. My sister and I always loved Friday the 13th growing up, and of course that was passed down to my nephew, who is autistic.
Wyatt has incredible aptitude for building things without directions, somehow he just knows how to put it together. But he also remembers films line-for-line and names stay with him, so when he had found out that his uncle was interviewing Kane Hodder, he immediately blurted “Friday the 13th!” with his always present smile. He talked about it for days and days.
And when when he came home from school one afternoon to find a copy of Jason Goes to Hell with Kane Hodder’s signature scribbled on the case, that beaming smile I’d been wearing days earlier transferred to Wyatt. My sister texted me to say that he never put it down, carried it through the house like a football and even hid it at night so that no one would snag it while he slept or was at school. This went on for weeks, with a new hiding place every night.
So when I think of Kane Hodder, of course Camp Crystal Lake and Hatchet come to mind and I look forward to Death House and Friday the 13th: The Game, but more than that, I think of visits with burn survivors and a simple message to those struggling to get through the day, “Look at what I would have missed.”
“A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.”
Hodder is responsible for endless smiles and the inspiration to keep fighting, and a memory that will never lose its impact on a little autistic boy from Iowa.
Kane Hodder is a horror icon, but he’s an even better human being.