Following the well-attended and rather emotional Los Angeles Premiere (given a portion of the film’s subject matter) of director Derek Dennis Herbert’s documentary To Hell and Back: The Kane Hodder Story (review) last night at Screamfest Film Festival in Hollywood, CA, we caught up with the doc’s subject, Hodder himself, on the carpet. Read on.
Having premiered this past August at UK’s FrightFest, and featuring interviews with cinema legends, including Bruce Campbell (“Ash vs. Evil Dead”), Robert Englund (Freddy Krueger), and Cassandra Peterson (Elvira: Mistress of the Dark), To Hell and Back: The Kane Hodder Story (according to the official synopsis) “Peels off the mask of Kane Hodder, cinema’s most prolific killer, in a gut-wrenching, but inspiring, documentary. To Hell and Back is the harrowing story of a stuntman overcoming a dehumanizing childhood filled with torment and bullying in Sparks, Nevada. After surviving a near-death burn accident, he worked his way up through Hollywood, leading to his ultimate rise as Jason Voorhees in the Friday the 13th series and making countless moviegoers forever terrified of hockey masks and summer camp. After decades of watching Kane Hodder on screen, get ready to meet the man behind the mask in To Hell and Back – an uniquely human story about one of cinema’s most vicious monsters.”
As I would find during the film, leaning forward intently in my seat for the duration, laughing at times and brought to tears at others, the descriptor of an “uniquely human story” rings entirely true.
“Did you really?” Hodder asked me after the screening, upon communicating to him my emotional response. “That’s what most people who will admit their true feelings have said. I mean, for me it’s hard to watch, that’s why I couldn’t sit in there and watch it. But I appreciate that. When people tell me that, and that they’re not typically the kind that will cry in a movie or a documentary, that’s more meaningful to me.”
Hodder’s candor in the film pertaining to his life, and particularly in regards to his near death accident at the age of twenty-two, when a fire stunt went horribly wrong and his subsequent mental and physical struggle he waged during recovery stemming from such, is stunning and flat-out courageous.
Of such brutal honesty, the sixty-two year old actor (who over the course of his career has murdered more people on screen than any other in cinematic history – a decided departure from a man who effuses humility), stated, “I found making this film absolutely cathartic for one thing. And once we started this, I wasn’t sure that I was going to talk about everything that I did talk about, and when I did talk about it, I told (director) Derek, ‘I’m not sure that I want everything I talked about to be included.’ So, he gave me that comfort factor by saying to me, ‘We’ll put in whatever you want to put in, as long as it works for the film.’ Which I understand, he’s a filmmaker, which means he wants to do certain things. But it was nice to have that feeling of well, ‘If I’m sorry for saying something (in particular) that it won’t end up in there.’ And ultimately I wasn’t sorry for anything I said anyway. And the best reactions I get from people (who have seen the film stem) from some of the things I wasn’t sure I could talk about.”
“If this film can help one person get through a tough situation because they see in it someone else who has gone through some shit, then that’s worth it right there,” Hodder reflected. “And it seems to have done a lot more than that. A lot of people have told me, that coming back from the brink of certain things that the film helped them, and it’s hard to even say that, because I don’t want it to seem like I’m bragging, but it’s just amazing to see that people are responding the way that they are. I mean, you know the career stuff is fun, sure, but the human stuff is what means more, so I’m very happy.”
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To Hell and Back is a harrowing story of a stuntman overcoming a dehumanizing childhood filled with torment and bullying in Sparks, Nevada. After surviving a near-death burn accident, he worked his way up through Hollywood, leading to his ultimate rise as Jason Voorhees in the Friday the 13th series and making countless moviegoers forever terrified of hockey masks and summer camp. After decades of watching Kane Hodder on screen, get ready to meet the man behind the mask in To Hell and Back – a uniquely human story about one of cinema’s most vicious monsters.