Screamfest 2017: To Hell and Back: The Kane Hodder Story FILM REVIEW
TO HELL AND BACK: THE KANE HODDER STORY
Director: Derek Dennis Herbert
Featuring: Kane Hodder, Robert Englund, Bruce Campbell, Cassandra Peterson, Adam Green, Mike Aloisi, John Carl Buechler, Sean S. Cunningham
Running Time: 1 hour 48 minutes
**** out of *****
Photo: Masterfully Macabre Entertainment
Iconic stuntman/actor Kane Hodder reflects upon his career in the documentary TO HELL AND BACK: THE KANE HODDER STORY.
When a certain scene requires action which could be potentially harmful to the principal actor or actress often times a stunt person is called upon to perform the action. The actor being stunt-doubled would perform the scene up until the moment the stunt begins and that is where stunts takes over. Now unless it's Tom Cruise or Jackie Chan odds are you'll be seeing a faceless and often nameless stunt performer in that scene. It's very rare for a principal actor to perform all their own stunts especially if they don't have a stunts background. Rarer still is a stunt performer whose name is just as recognizable as the A-list stars they double. Vic Armstrong. Dar Robinson. Hal Needham. Buster Keaton. Zoe Bell. Kane Hodder. All recognizable names who have performed stunts in films such as RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, SHARKY'S MACHINE, THE FRENCH CONNECTION, THE GENERAL, KILL BILL and SE7EN. Stuntman and actor Kane Hodder is the subject of the enlightening, frank and often moving documentary TO HELL AND BACK: THE KANE HODDER STORY.
Hodder has had a prolific career as a stuntman and actor and continues to do so to this day. Hodder is likely best known to horror fans but has been an actor, stuntman or both in many well known films such as ENEMY OF THE STATE, GONE IN 60 SECONDS, UNDER SIEGE, BATMAN FOREVER and SPAWN. However, it's his portrayal of iconic killer Jason Voorhees in the FRIDAY THE 13th film series, a part he's played in four films and a video game, which he's best known for and it's the role which elevated his name and stature to legend. The documentary focuses on Kane Hodder as he reflects upon his life and career in the industry. He shares his memories of how he got started in the business and how he got his start in stunt work. He frankly discusses the many highs and lows of his prolific career. In addition, director Derek Dennis Herbert interviews some of Hodder's friends and many of his colleagues whom he has worked with over the years.
As is the case with most biographical documentaries it truly helps when the subject is very open about their life and career. Looking at Hodder would likely instill a sense of intimidation while in his presence but it turns out that the man with the word "kill" tattooed inside his lower lip is a very down to earth and humble guy. The documentary reveals that he also has a sly and twisted sense of humor as he professes his enjoyment in messing with people while on set. Hodder doesn't hold back when discussing the low points in his career. He openly discusses the bitterness and aloofness he felt when he wasn't cast in the eagerly anticipated crossover film FREDDY VS JASON; the role of Jason Voorhees went to another stuntman/actor. In the most emotional section of the film for the first time he openly discusses in detail the events behind the accident which nearly killed him. For the longest time the public only knew that the visible scarring on his neck was the result of a stunt mishap. Accidents happen especially in stunt work. Hodder discusses what happened, why he didn't want to share the full account of the mishap and why he was able to finally share the whole story. It's a sad and sobering which ultimately proves to be uplifting.
Numerous names in the business are also interviewed as they share their experiences and stories about working with Hodder. Robert Englund fondly looks upon their personal and professional relationship. Danielle Harris shares how she felt safe and protected knowing Kane Hodder was the stunt coordinator on one of her films. Director John Carl Buechler talks about the importance of having an actor/stunt performer to play Jason in his FRIDAY film and how he wanted Hodder for it. Bruce Campbell and Casandra Petersen share anecdotes about Hodder and his impact on the genre. Recent directors Adam Green, VICTOR CROWLEY, and B. Harrison Smith, DEATH HOUSE, discuss Hodder and what it was like to have him on set. Even fans get to share their thoughts on why they love Hodder so much and the impact he's had on them. The Hodder family also provide a brief glimpse into the normalcy of their lives and how Kane is just a regular dad at heart.
TO HELL AND BACK is an engaging and eye-opening film which pulls back the curtain on one actor's private and professional life. It will certainly be a veritable feast for fans of Hodder and the many iconic characters he's portrayed. Average film fans will be taken on an uplifting journey about one man who followed his dreams and broke through the hardships and heartbreak to become a highly respected and admired name in the industry. The film serves as a testament to Kane Hodder's character, philosophy, strength and career. The documentary may find Hodder new fans and provide current ones an even greater appreciation not just for the actor but of the man, a humble and approachable giant who has a penchant for slaughtering people on screen, as well.
***** = Outstanding ****1/2 = Excellent **** = Very Good ***1/2 = Above Average
*** = Good **1/2 = Mediocre ** = Fair *1/2 = Poor * = Bad 1/2* = Abysmal