Documentary Week: To Hell and Back – The Kane Hodder Story (2017)

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One of the greatest horror actors is the subject of this documentary as we see him suffer a near-fatal accident as a stuntman and then his evolution as one of the greatest horror film icons ever in a total of four films (and a video game) and another iconic monster in one of the great new millenium horror franchises.

Kane Hodder is one of the most famous stuntmen and stunt coordinators in Hollywood today. Having a career spanning over four decades, Hodder would be forever known as the actor who would play Jason Voorhees in four installments of the Friday the 13th franchise and as Victor Crowley in the Hatchet franchise. However, even before becoming immortal in that role, he became somewhat immortal when in 1977, he suffered a very serious accident. An attempt to do a burn stunt for a local newscast resulted in a mishap that led to a full body burn with no protection. Hodder nearly died and suffered massive burns to his body. After months of hospitalization, he recovered at a burn center in San Francisco.

Hodder would not let the accident destroy his career. He would continue work as a stuntman and stunt coordinator in many action and horror films. In 1988, Hodder would play Jason in Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood. It was there that Hodder would once again do a full body burn. Only this time, it was not only done correctly, but it would become the longest full body burn in history, earning him the Guinness World Record. Hodder would play Jason in three more films, Friday the 13th Part VIII, Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday, and Jason X. Now, a legend due to his run as the mutated Victor Crowley in the Hatchet franchise as well, Hodder attends conventions where he has a gag of “choking” his fans and on top of that, hosts a podcast for Fangoria, Casualty Friday with fellow horror film stars Felissa Rose and Tiffany Shepis.

This documentary is an intimate look at the life of Kane Hodder. We learn that as a child, Hodder suffered bullying which eventually would make him a stronger person. We then delve into Hodder’s beginnings as a stuntman and his near-fatal accident. To this day, as appreciation for what the doctors at the burn center did to help him, we see Hodder return to the burn center and visit fellow burn victims and gives them words of hope. This particular scene actually made me shed a tear because it shows the level of compassion and kindness Hodder gives back to the community.

There are interviews with those who are close to Hodder, including Cassandra Peterson, aka Elvira; Robert Englund, Adam Green, Sid Haig, Danielle Harris, and many others. We even get to learn about the non-cinematic side of Kane with interviews with his family, which include wife Susan and sons Jace and Reed. Susan even goes to tell us why she would no longer go to the sets to watch her husband in action and how he spends his time at home with the family.

We even get to see Hodder at fan conventions, where fans get the notion of not only meeting their hero but have the luxury of getting “choked” by him. That’s right, Hodder chokes his fans in photo ops and it would become a trademark of his. There are interviews with fans who have felt the choke and find it more fun than crazy. It’s both a bit of a shock but also a bit funny. Just goes to show how much Kane Hodder is appreciated in the movie industry.

To Hell and Back: The Kane Hodder Story makes its meaning known as we take a look at the story of the iconic stuntman and actor who can be described as a mere immortal! He has gone through hell and back and we get to take at both the tough side and the soft side of this great actor-stuntman. This should be seen not just for horror fans, but film fans as a whole because this is one story that doesn’t hold back.

WFG RATING: A

Dread Central presents a Masterfully Macabre Entertainment production in association with Four J’s Production. Director: Derek Dennis Herbert. Producers: Derek Dennis Herbert and Andrew Barcello. Cinematography: Zachary Hunter. Editing: Mike Hugo.

Cast: Kane Hodder, Susan Hodder, Jace Hodder, Reed Hodder, Robert Englund, Sean S. Cunningham, Cassandra Peterson, Rick McCallum, Zach Galligan, Danielle Harris, Sid Haig, Felissa Rose, Bill Moseley, Ted White, Adam Rifkin, John Carl Buechler, Bruce Campbell.

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