When anyone in the horror genre, hears the name Kane Hodder they often think of his iconic portrayal of Jason Voorhees of the Friday the 13th Franchise, although starring in only of the 4 films he made a lasting impression, which incidentally matches the same number for reprises the role of Victor Crowley of the Hatchet series. So many of his friends, and professionals in the industry speak highly of him, his trusting nature and safety concerns on sets, assisting those otherwise fearful of his status with a stunt. This documentary includes wonderful stories from both Kane and his colleagues and co-stars, such as Robert Englund, Adam Green, and Cassandra Peterson. Director Derek Dennis Herbert doesn’t attempt anything too flashy and avoids the pitfalls of making a fanboy or obsessing over roles, rather making a human-interest documentary and biography of one the safest stuntman and stunt coordinators in the business. A project inspired the compelling book Unmasked: The Story of the World’s Most Prolific Cinematic Killer, by Michael Aloisi and Kane Hodder, led To Hell and Back: The Kane Hodder Story overcoming bullying, surviving a near–death burn accident to an incredible inspiring stuntman. This film shows that journey with images, with the help of friends and of course, Hodder’s own emotional words, distributed by Epic Pictures Releasing (Dread Central Presents).
This is a great documentary to watch, hence going to try to avoid some key aspects as I would like both cinema and horror fans to enjoy the film, and honestly there a few tough scenes to watch, after all this is a man who got burned in the upper torso, arms, hands and his head. Kane is very passionate and thankful to his fans, and in the film again speaks the truth of how the ‘accident’, which changed his life, that he long kept secret for a multitude of reasons. He gives 100% intensity in everything and a true nature individual who proudly claims the throne for the most kills on screen, to argue with that is quite futile after all, he has a tattoo word “Kill!” inside of his bottom lip. The film looks at his past of being bullied, to his start of dangerous risk-taking behaviors on a balcony, how it helped him excel forward in life. Then, in 1977 during a fateful news story, a stunt goes absolutely and horribly wrong, in which Herbert keeps the cameras rolling, as it captures the vivid events visualizing in Kane’s eyes, a time of medical confusion, ineptness and a god-sent rescue. Anyone trying to understand the pain, anguish, torture of a burn, cannot unless it’s happen to them or they work in a burn center. If you think burning your hand on a hot stove hurts, try to image your arm engulfed in flames, the skin melting and dripping, the nerves cringed away and then the horrendous pain of recovering, still not even close to the real thing. But an anonymous and kind Good Samaritan helped him through the depression and from there a triumphant return with a lengthy resume as an actor, he has over 2-dozen announced or pre-production, and a countless long list have since been released tallying over 120 films (many in the horror genre), conducting over 100 films as a stunt person and coordinator. The movie shows him comforting children wretchedly burned but it’s not a PR stunt, rather a matter to help those in need, talking to someone who’s gone through the pain personally. Of course, the documentary covers his films of his, including Friday the 13th, Part VII: The New Blood (1988), Prison (1987), and Hatchet fame, and his favorite kills, but a movie like this often comes near the end of career, not one still excelling at an incredible rate.
Hodder, speaks volumes about stunts in his life, and on films, noting those that brag about how many bones broken, however he doesn’t that’s right, if you do your job right shouldn’t be getting hurt like that, a refreshing thought, these gems scattered throughout the film. Stunt people in general are sadly over looked by the film masses for decades, only getting a minor spotlight, outside of the industry when breaking a record and receiving a mention when something goes dreadfully wrong i.e. death. If as person in the cinema, asks an average person to name their favorite stunt person the answer “ummm”. The Academy Awards doesn’t have a category for them, likely threaten the image of the star power, but most fans know their favorites aren’t doing these highly sensational stunts, the awards and acclaim in other manners, for a professional lasting longer than the cinematic industry itself. Some television shows such as The Fall Guy gave a glimpse of the film Hooper (1978) directed by Hal Needham, the representation still limited, but thanks to the conventions, especially horror ones, the man transcended past the layers of latex and has become quite prolific to fans, he’s Hodder . Although if one, asked this reviewer I likely first name Dar Robinson (sadly passed in 1986), he invented the decelerator for high fall gag without airbags, as he did in the film Stick (1985) incredible, just watch that scene. Others I can name, simply Ted White, Hal Needham, and Buster Keaton just to name a few of the standouts, I thoroughly respect all stunt persons.
Some might find the lack of more coverage of on Friday the 13th films, a glossing over the Freddy vs. Jason controversary, though notes Kane’s sleeping bag killing as a favorite, equally true for most fans. The film intercuts of the stars excellent editing and all going forward in an emotional and inspirational journey overcoming gruesome situations and the bleakest moments.
He’s been beaten, bullied, and burned… And that’s just the beginning of his story
IMDb Rating: 8.6/10
Baron’s Rating: 8.5/10