DirectorDerek Dennis Herbert
Release Date(s)2017 (July 13, 2018)
Studio(s)Epic Pictures (Dread Central Presents)
- Film/Program Grade: B+
- Video Grade: B+
- Audio Grade: B+
- Extras Grade: B+
For countless horror fans, Kane Hodder has always been a mainstay in the horror community for well over thirty years. His interpretation of Jason Voorhees in four of the Friday the 13th films, as well as Victor Crowley in the Hatchet series, has firmly established him as one of the icons of the industry. What most people don’t know is the story behind the man. Perhaps they might have heard tiny pieces of information about him over time, but up until the release of his book “Unmasked”, the touching tale of his journey to playing Jason was mostly unknown. To Hell and Back: The Kane Hodder Story now sheds even more light on an amazing stuntman, a surprisingly good actor, and an incredible human being.
The To Hell and Back documentary is one that I had been looking forward to ever since I first heard about it almost a year ago. Kane Hodder has always been an interesting figure to me. His bulking frame yet seemingly sensitive persona in interviews have always made me wonder what else there was to him. Much to my delight, this documentary really delivers the goods in that department. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions, making you laugh, cry, and angry, all over the amount of pain and hardship that he has endured over the course of his life. From his early days as a bullied youngster (something I can relate to myself) to a near-fatal accident that left him horrifically burned and the harrowing tale of his recovery, it’s all fascinating and moving to hear.
This documentary puts him front and center, allowing him to talk about his life in his own words, but we’re also treated to variety of folks that he’s known and worked with over the course of his career. This includes Robert Englund, John Carl Buechler, Bruce Campbell, Adam Green, Danielle Harris, Bill Moseley, Cassandra Peterson, Adam Rifkin, Sean S. Cunningham, and many, many more. As with a lot of documentaries, it does tend to drag a little in certain places, but the interview material with Hodder is so compelling that it gets you through it, especially the fan interviews, which thankfully, make up about 1% of the overall feature.
The Blu-ray debut of To Hell and Back: The Kane Hodder Story from Dread Central Presents gives us an excellent presentation that’s a mix of high definition interviews, which are well-lit and well-shot, and an assortment of still photographs and film footage of varying qualities. It’s actually one of the more solid and consistent documentary presentations that I’ve seen in a while as everything appears mostly sharp and well-defined. On the audio side of things, there are two options to choose from: English 5.1 and 2.0 Dolby Digital, with optional subtitles in English SDH and Spanish. I personally would have been fine with a simple stereo presentation as the 5.1 is mostly a front and center experience anyways, but everything comes through clearly on both tracks, including the interview dialogue and score.
The extras for this release include a whopping 90 minutes of deleted and extended interviews that are broken down into six sections (Bonus Bits, Bonus Burn Memories, A Kane Hodder Fight History, More Memories on Kane Hodder Films, Extra Comments on Friday the 13th Films, Additional Thoughts on Hatchet Series); trailers for the film itself, Terrifier, #Screamers, and Director’s Cut; and a DVD copy.
Dread Central Presents continues its range of high class horror projects with To Hell and Back: The Kane Hodder Story. In an era of horror documentaries being made ad infinitum (not a complaint, just an observation), this one is an informative and surprisingly emotional selection. If you’re a genre fan, this one’s a no-brainer. Highly recommended!
- Tim Salmons