Documentary Review: "To Hell and Back: The Kane Hodder Story" (2018)
I'm a straight mark for a well constructed documentary that has something to tell you that you don't already know. Isn't that the point of a good documentary, really? It should hit you on a level that humanizes a subject or a person in a know that you didn't see coming. At least, that's my definition of what I want in a good documentary.
The fact that it's about THE definitive Jason Vorhees of Friday the 13th fame, the hulking beast under the makeup of Victor Crowley in Adam Green's Hatchet series, and Hollywood's most prolifically legendary stuntman, Kane Hodder, well....I was pretty sure it wouldn't disappoint.
I didn't expect it to be as genuinely emotional and powerful as it is, though.
For those of you lured in for the horror side of things, To Hell and Back...doesn't disappoint. The interviews are a who's who of horror royalty- Robert Englund (Freddy Krueger from A Nightmare on Elm Street), Bruce Campbell (Ash Williams from Evil Dead), Cassandra Peterson (Elvira!!), Sid Haig (Captain Spaulding from The Devil's Rejects), Bill Moseley (Otis Firefly from The Devil's Rejects), Felissa Rose (Angela from Sleepaway Camp), Danielle Harris (Marybeth from Hatchet 2 and 3), legendary director Sean S. Cunningham (Friday the 13th), director Adam Green (Hatchet series creator)......you get the idea.
There's plenty of behind the scenes pictures, video, and stories to satisfy all the fans. With 137 acting credits, 103 stunt credits, 60 "himself" appearances, and even 7 producer credits, there's no doubt he's literally one of hardest working men in showbiz. He also does the convention circuit voraciously and adores his fans. Even at a 1 hour, 48 minute runtime this excellent doc only scratches the surface of the impact he's had on films of all genres (not just horror).
There were far more laughs to be had than you might expect when chronicling the career of the most intimidating man in horror history. At 6'3" and 237 pounds with the deadliest stare on Earth he's no joke, but a different side of Kane Hodder is revealed here in stark detail. As a lifelong horror junkie, I knew the basic story but I had no idea what this man had actually gone through.
Revealing the truth behind the infamous "stunt accident" for the first time ever, Kane details how he was burned over 50% of his body in 1977. There are pictures from the actual incident included. He details the 4 and half month horror show that was his initial treatment at a poorly equipped facility before he was finally transferred to a state of the art burn unit to truly heal. He visits the Bothin Burn Center and the doctor who treated him. The footage is genuinely raw and emotional. You can plainly see how deep the psychological scars are on this cinematic monster, and it will make you weep. It's that powerful.
What do you do after that? You go on to become the "King of the Full Body Burn" and one of the most respected stuntmen in Hollywood. You cement a legacy as the one and only Jason Vorhees (despite the fact that more than a handful of other men have played the part). You kickstart new horror franchises. You work with burn victims. You please legions of fans.
In short, you go on to be a multi-talented badass of ridiculous proportions.
My daughter and I were fortunate enough to meet him at Texas Frightmare Weekend in 2016. He was a consummate gentleman, sweet to Gracie and highly engaged. He also damn near broke my hand. The strength in his grip is patently fucking retarded.
To Hell and Back: The Kane Hodder Story should not be dismissed as a doc strictly for horror fans or even movie nerds. His story is legitimately inspiring and amazing, and director Derek Dennis Herbert absolutely does it justice. Don't miss it. If you do, may Jason come to your house and bury his machete in your skull.