Doctor Gash's Tip of the Scalpel: A Tribute to Derek Mears
"Derek Mears is the nicest man in horror." The above quote was said directly to me by Nick Principe (Laid to Rest, Chromeskull: Laid to Rest 2) at Rock and Shock about his fellow twin tower, Derek Mears ... but we'll get back to that.
Doctor Gash's Tip of the Scalpel tribute has gone to some iconic figures in horror: Robert Englund, Bill Moseley, and Kane Hodder to name some of the initial recipients. However, the Tip of the Scalpel was not meant to be a simple rehashing of all our favorite horror icons. I certainly wanted to keep the door open for the newer faces of the genre to be recognized, especially when working on a new project or doing something outstanding. Enter Derek Mears.
Mears is by no means a greenhorn in the horror industry. He is, of course, best known to fans of the genre as the newest portrayer of Jason Voorhees, featured in the re-launch of the Friday the 13th series in 2009 and as the Classic Predator in the 2010 film Predators. To touch upon some of his past projects, he's been in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and Dead Man's Chest, The Hills Have Eyes and The Hills Have Eyes 2, "Death Valley," "Community" and has the unique sounding project Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters in post-production. Mears is indeed a busy man. But it's not his workload or filmography (although both are impressive) that lands him this recognition today. It's what I saw from Derek Mears, the man, that really impressed me.
Walking into the Rock and Shock celebrity area this past October, the first face that stood out (and perhaps because it stood at around 6'6" tall) was Derek Mears. I had recently watched the first episode of "Death Valley" and thought I had noticed him on it, but I couldn't find a credit for him. So I ventured over into the valley of the giant to introduce myself and see if that was indeed him on the show.
His table had hit a lull and he didn't initially notice that I was there. Suddenly, like Jason Voorhees himself, he sensed my arrival and turned toward me. A hulking bald figure, a body that looked chiseled out of granite and ... the biggest smile you could imagine. Derek Mears could not be a nicer, more accommodating guest for his fans. And I thought, "Well, maybe it's the Dread Central thing that impressed him and he was extra nice to me." No sir. Doing some research on Derek for this article, I checked out his Facebook page, and right down the line one fan after another thanks the man for his kindness and attention at one festival or another. Well done, sir.
Over the course of the three days, I was able to get to know Derek a bit better, as well as the other giant in the room, Nick Principe. One day I mentioned to Nick what an incredibly gracious guy Derek seemed to be, despite the fact that in every picture he posed for with the fans he brings out the most blood-chilling mean face you could imagine. And that's when he dropped it on me ... "Derek Mears is the nicest man in horror."
And the more I watched him, the more I saw how true the statement was. This giant among men simply could not be more accommodating to everyone around him. His personality and demeanor could not be more inviting. Then I started to think about some of the franchises he's been a part of. Friday the 13th, Predator, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Hills Have Eyes. These are some big name movie properties, and there's Mears right in the middle of them. Add to this the fact that he'll be featured in Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, which is sure to have some buzz around it come next year, and I thought, "Here's a guy who deserves a Tip of the Scalpel."
And I'm sure he would scoff at the thought of any praise being heaped upon him. But I certainly feel like this is warranted. Great resume, great guy and intriguing upcoming projects -- yeah, Mears is the man. And he's a guy who goes out of his way for the fans that love him. He's a physical beast of a man with an attitude and good nature you've got to love. And for that we give a Tip of the Scalpel to Derek Mears, the nicest man in horror.
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