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

Most horror fans know him as the man who played Jason Voorhees and who is Victor Crowley, to non-genre film fans, he’s showed up in all kinds of films in bits parts and lead roles. The man behind the highest number of cinematic kills in film history is much more than just a killing machine or simply a stuntman. Here Kane Hodder tells his own story, his own way, from being bullied as a child to a burn stunt gone wrong to becoming of the top genre players and stuntman in his industry.

Directed by Derek Dennis Herbert, this meticulously crafted documentary pairs interviews with Kane Hodder, his family, his peers, and a few others with archival photos and scenes from his work to create a well-rounded documentary covering Hodder’s life from an honest point of view. Fans and others may be surprised by how deep the film goes and by how vulnerable Hodder is on screen through big parts of the film. This humanizes him and his life, he is much more than a screen killing machine and the documentary shows that beautifully well.

The interviews here include of course Kane Hodder taking the bulk of the time and a slew of horror icons, artists, family members, and fans. Hodder goes deep into his own story, letting emotions come out which grabs the viewer and truly connects with them. Adding to his information are some of his horror peers such as Robert Englund, Danielle Harris, Adam Green, Cassandra Peterson, Sid Haig, Felissa Rose, etc. Each of them is personable and fun to watch talk about the man they’ve come to know as a colleague and on a personal level. Their interviews are involved and interesting in how each person shows tremendous love and respect for Hodder. Supplementing these are fan interviews done at various horror conventions. These are interesting on some level but don’t bring a whole lot to the table besides showing how fans love the man and why they do. The fans do bring some connection for the viewer, but the real meaty parts of the documentary are definitely Hodder himself, his family, and his peers.

These interviews and some of the other footage, such as Hodder’s visits to locations he talks about, are all shot with an even style, except for the Robert Englund interview which is done with a softer focus for some reason. The cinematography by Zachary Hunter paired with the editing by Mike Hugo create a look for the film with consistency and a clear approach to the subject, creating in turn a consistent documentary that has direction and knows where it’s going.

To Hell and Back: The Kane Hodder Story is a must for fans of the man and his work. The film by Derek Dennis Herbert shows great attention at bringing the truth from the man himself and stories and information from colleagues, friends, and family. Considering this is a documentary about the on actor/stuntman with the top highest kill count in cinematic history, his story of being bullied and struggles is fairly surprisingly emotional. The emotions that come out of the interviews and images are what connect the film with the viewers, making it a much more powerful documentary that films that simply relate facts with low to no emotional impact. This documentary is a strong outing in the world of horror documentaries and sets its director as one to watch. This is one film that should be seen, horror fan or not.