Plot: Kane Hodder has racked up an epic body count as a cinematic stalker, playing some iconic roles and becoming a genre legend in the process. In To Hell and Back, the man behind the masks and makeup is given a chance to tell his story, one that is almost as wild as the movies he was part of. Inspired by Unmasked, the book that recounted Hodder’s life and career, this documentary allows Hodder to tell his story in his own words, bolstered by his peers, friends, family, and prominent others that figure into his tale, so this is all first hand, personal accounts. To Hell and Back also tracks his work on screen and offers some insights into how he rose to be a horror legend, so this a must see for fans of Hodder and his work.
Entertainment Value: This documentary is aimed at horror fans, but anyone with an interest in film or biographical content should give this a look, as To Hell and Back is much more than just look at Kane Hodder’s genre accolades. The piece takes us back to Hodder’s youth and his struggles with bullying, which might seem odd given his later imposing presence, but he is open and candid about how being picked on impacted him in deep ways. You’re taken on a tour of his movies of course, from how he broke into the business, his passion for learning the craft of film, and his big break when he stepped into the blood soaked boots of Jason Voorhees. I had heard about Hodder’s burn accident a little, but this movie devotes a good deal of time to the incident and Hodder is again quite open about the situation. He also details the treatment and recovery, which are a true testament to how tough Hodder is, as I can’t even imagine the suffering he endures and strength of will it took to push through. In short, the documentary covers a lot of ground, both personal and professional.
The bulk of the documentary involves Hodder directly, as he provides numerous candid, honest interviews about his experiences. He provides some good insights into the movies he was a part of, his disappointment in not being cast in Freddy vs. Jason, his quirks as a performer, and as mentioned above, the trials and tribulations of his personal life. His visit to the hospital where he recovered from his burns is an intense, emotional scene and Hodder was courageous for sharing both his story and his return to the burn ward that treated him. In addition to Hodder’s first hand memories, we also hear from other horror icons like Robert Englund and Bruce Campbell, several of the filmmakers Hodder has worked with, members of his family, close friends, and others close to him, so there’s a variety of perspectives provided. The piece is well assembled overall and moves at a brisk pace, so it keeps your attention. I do think horror fanatics will wish there was more depth of coverage when it comes to his movie roles, but as a general look into Hodder’s life and career, this is a terrific documentary.