Hodder & Hatchet: A Bloody Pair

It is 10:30 p.m. on a Thursday, and Kane Hodder is sitting in an AMC theater in Tampa, awaiting the midnight premiere of “Hatchet II,” the sequel to 2006’s cult sensation, “Hatchet.”

If you saw Hodder’s face in a crowd, you probably would not recognize him though his imposing physique is hard to miss. Hs name is not one typically found on marquees, yet chances are high that you have seen Hodder’s work before and have enjoyed it.

According to Hodder’s International Movie Database (IMDB) profile page, the actor has done stunts or served as stunt coordinator on 72 films, such as “Gone in Sixty Seconds,” “A Night at the Roxbury” and “The Devil’s Rejects.” According to Hodder, “The IMDB page isn’t even complete.”

Along with various stunt credits, Hodder has an impressive amount of acting roles to his name, none more recognizable than Jason Voorhees of the “Friday the 13th” series. Hodder has had the distinct privilege of playing the maniacal Jason four times, three times more than any other actor.

Hodder has a fondness for the iconic character he has helped create, as well as an appreciation for the process of portraying a masked and silent murderer.

“In a way, it’s art,” he said. “An actor uses several tools to perform. Facial expressions and voice are huge. How do you get something across when you can’t use either one of those things? It’s hard.”

In the original “Hatchet,” Hodder plays Victor Crowley, the resident madman of the series who is awoken by a boatful of tourists hoping to catch a glimpse of his legendary deformities. They see far more than they could have hoped for and are exposed to some of the most macabre, humorous and creative deaths imaginable.

This time the film continues right where the last one left off, following the story of a young woman who plans to avenge the death of her family members at the hands of Crowley. A side character in the original, she is now brought forth to reveal all the secrets behind Crowley’s legend.

Where the original film served as horror homage to Hodder’s beloved ’80s slashers, the sequel takes itself a bit more seriously. It provides time to establish important characters and storylines, where the original was quick to dispense blood in favor of nuance. Hodder said he views the sequel as a significant improvement over its predecessor.

“It’s just a great movie and it’s fun to watch, even when there’s no killing or anything else,” he said. “Some of the ‘Friday’ movies you were like, ‘Ah, just get through this talking b—— so I can see some killing.'”

Hodder said he believes Crowley may trump Jason as a character and even said he would love to play both roles in an on-screen match-up. Regarding the comment, Hodder said, “I don’t say anything just to get people to go see a movie. I say how I feel. It took a lot of consideration for me to say that, but I think that Victor is more manic and unpredictable.”

Hodder also reserves high praise for the director of “Hatchet II,” Adam Green, because of the challenges Green tends to put before his actors.

“Something I’ve never done in a movie before, he’ll come up with,” Hodder said. “Like, in ‘Hatchet,’ I had never really cried on screen before. With ‘Hatchet II,’ he said, ‘I want you to have a love scene, a sex scene.’ And I was like, ‘What?'”

Hodder not only credits Green with helping him grow as an actor, but also is grateful for having the opportunity to challenge people’s expectations of him.

“In the first movie, I asked him, ‘Give me something emotional to do, because nobody gives me that chance.’ They say, ‘He’s a stuntman for one thing, and he’s known for playing a silent character in a mask.’ So they don’t think you have any talent.”

After “Hatchet II” was initially slapped with an NC-17 by the MPAA, a rating that can scare away many potential buyers from major theater chains, Dark Sky Films, the film’s producer, struck a deal with AMC Theaters to release the film in its intended, uncut form.

Unfortunately, after only a weekend on the big screen, “Hatchet 2” was pulled without explanation from all participating theaters. While the film will probably not return to movie theaters, it will likely be released to DVD. Either way, fans of the genre see the brief release of “Hatchet 2” as a statement that the market for unrated horror films can and should expand.

Hodder agrees, as long as that expansion is not through online illegal piracy. In just one weekend, Green’s film “Frozen” was illegally downloaded 125,000 times, he said.

Even with his impressive resume and 33 years in the entertainment business, do not be expecting Hodder to put a stop to either stunt work or swinging his bloody machete (or hatchet) just yet. With the release of his fourth collaboration with Adam Green, the anthology horror film “Chillerama,” on the way, Hodder even plans on releasing his own book tentatively on Friday, May 13, 2011.

“It’s my life story,” he said. “That sounds a little pompous, but I think it’s pretty damn interesting.”