Review: To Hell And Back: The Kane Hodder Story
When you're growing up as a horror fan, especially one who perused the aisles of a video store, there were certain boogeymen you revered and feared above all else. These manifestations of your phobias and fears transcended the screen and permeated your nightmares, but you loved them for it. Scouring issues of Fangoria and the internet nowadays you would learn the architects of these fears and the masterful movements and voices that built these boogeymen. My favorite was always Jason Voorhees and there is no better master class in Jason than Kane Hodder, the truest embodiment of the character. As a young viewer gorging down the FRIDAY THE 13th Franchise it was Hodder finally giving Jason a true performance that kept the series going and made Jason a true icon. In this day and age, we laud the likes of Andy Serkis for Motion Caption but think about the challenges of acting through hours of appliances. This is a true craft that very few people can still work at. Heavy breathing, shoulders risen and one lone eye to give way to the tortured soul of terror. From the humble beginnings of a stuntman on PRISON to Icon in FRIDAY THE 13th to Legend in HATCHET, Kane Hodder is a name that should be in each household of horror alongside Robert Englund and Tony Todd. Stories of Kane's life are the stuff of nightmares and dreams, but it is within the documentary TO HELL AND BACK: THE KANE HODDER STORY that we see not only the Icon but in the immortal words of Alice Cooper, "The Man Behind the Mask."
The documentary begins with actors, directors, artists and fans alike all praising Kane and his importance to not just them but all his fans. From humble beginnings as a child, we learn his first scare that gave him the jolt to pursue horror and the moment where he decided to become a stuntman. The beginning of his career which led to the biggest tragedy in his life and out into a new life and career. A career that spans several decades and the evolution of his acting career all the way up until present day.
This is the definitive Kane Hodder documentary that I myself as a horror fan and many others will relish in all the behind the scene antics and artistry behind his performances. In the words of Bruce Campbell, "Most of the people that I’ve met who play heroes are assholes and most people who play really bad people are nice guys." That is the bulk of the documentary. Kane Hodder is taking adversity and channeling it into his art. He is the nicest guy you could meet. He plays several of the most horrifyingly grotesque and sadistic villains, but even they all have tragedy behind their lives and intentions. That's where Kane comes from.
What’s amazing about this documentary is it transcends a biography of a horror icon and becomes the story of the most genuine of men. A man who survived mental abuse through bullying. Physical traumas beyond most peoples comprehension. He has overcome real horror in healing and made that horror his fist to punch through the worlds worst and pursue his dreams completely embracing who he is and what he does. It’s a film about a man becoming who he was meant to be and survive his worst to be his best. You will achieve the truest appreciation for him, applaud and cheer him as he’s living the life he deserves surrounded by his adoring fans and still conquering cinema in so many ways. He’s the real-life Rocky. But he’s gone beyond the distance. A man whose mind and body are truly in sync that we could all learn from. This is a story that can shape all of us in the best of ways if we so choose to live life in the happiest of Kane Hodder mentalities.
That's what is so special about this film is it is a love letter to what we all grew up studying Kane for, but also a testament to a true man to look up to. He gives such moving and personal stories in the film that can be put into everyday life. One of the places he had been at his lowest in life he now uses to help others that were in the same position. As someone who has gone through traumatic hospital experiences, I highly recommend this film as an empowering device to help anyone experiencing surgery or health problems to be viewed as it is structured so beautifully it puts your life with any health problems into a very uplifting perspective of survival. That heart beats so boldly in the movie and gives hope to the hopeless. Slashers in their truest sense are cautionary tales and Kane makes himself one here of not what you shouldn't do, but what you should do to go on longer. To keep hope in the darkest of times as his second chance at life is where his dreams came true. In his own words, "Look at what I would've missed." It takes the strongest of men to face the world with his worst experiences and that’s why Kane is a goddamn legendary man. He faced true hell and emerged strongly as the years go by and his body healed his resolve grew stronger and that’s why he’s so legendary today. This is one of the best films you will see about survival from a man who built a career on making sure there were no survivors.