Starring: Kane Hodder, Bruce Campbell. Danielle Harris. Robert Englund. Cassandra Peterson Adam Green
Directed by: Derek Dennis Herbert
Running Time: 1 Hour 48 Minutes
Reviewed by: Dan Oles
The not-so-gentle giant Kane Hodder is as synonymous with horror as any of the fictional icons of the genre: the face of the Friday the Thirteenth series, even behind the famous hockey mask. This retrospective of his early history is no holds barred, the blood, sweat, and tears from childhood bullying to the slings and arrows of his career as an extra, a stuntman, and a star. Kane’s enthusiasm, professionalism and dedication is like a beacon of inspiration on the screen but he’s also laid back and personable which really explains his longevity and ease to work with which has led to his many roles in the industry. +
He’s insightful, he’s straightforward, and he’s also very funny.
“I’m trying to be dramatic because everyone knows I don’t do that.” he says at one juncture.
All the drama of the production is purely circumstantial, but it’s there because this is a real larger than life character worth celebrating.
Much like my review so far a majority of the documentary is heaping praise upon the man and this may be a little galling to those without the nostalgia, but the film does an excellent job in helping you to understand the cult of personality this actor has gathered. The doc makes no bones about the fact that nothing was fed to Kane, from horrific accidents to set-backs to tragedies, and this coupled with how much he has a love for what he does makes the reputation and support from the guest appearances of movie legends feel earned.
For all his success and fame, true to life nightmares lurk in his history. You will see a grown, muscular man weep.
The lion’s share of To Hell and Back is the recovery tale which until recently Kane denied himself out of embarrassment. We get clinical with the most excruciating injuries and procedures possible which could lead to discomfort on the part of the squeamish. Kane visits the locations where his traumatic experiences occurred and his expressions tell you everything you need to know about the internal conflict of seeing what has become of places he harbors such emotional intensity about.
But luckily this tale does have a silver lining. He’s respected, he’s beloved, and he’s only getting started.
The documentary itself is high quality video with a lot of great clips from films and crisp archival images. The sound balance is a little off, with some instances of the music slightly overwhelming the dialogue, but the footage is clear and it all looks professional. There’s color correction and staged scenes at times I thought were a bit overwrought but it’s also solidly in the wheelhouse of a contemporary documentary so it certainly won’t look out of place.
Kane Hodder is an interesting man, an endearing personality, and he’s got charisma to burn. If you care about the actor, the industry, or you’re just curious it’s a fine portrait to witness.
“To Hell and Back: The Kane Hodder Story” debuts June 14 in select theaters and on blu-ray/DVD and VOD June 28th.