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Cinema/TV, Film Notes

FrightFest review – To Hell and Back The Kane Hodder Story

My notes on the documentary.

‘You know I still think it’s accurate to say I’ve murdered more people on film than any actor in history … unless somebody can dispute that, but I doubt it. And if you do, I’ll fuckin’ kill you.’*

 

Kane Hodder is one of those guys who’s been around in movies – mostly behind masks – for so long he’s emerged as a cult-ish star on the convention circuit, but he’s not who you’d naturally think of as a solid subject for a feature-length documentary.  After all, as shown by a running gag in the TV show Holliston, he’s probably going to be best-remembered by fans as the guy who didn’t get the role of Jason in Freddy vs Jason and was ticked off about it … though, in retrospect, playing Jason in Jason X (after a bunch of other late-in-the-cycle sequels) is a better credit to have.  He graduated from stuntwork to monster performer with Renny Harlin’s Prison in 1985, and has been busy racking up IMDb credits ever since – he’s one of those busy names who’s probably been in more movies than he’s seen.

 

This hauls in Hodder’s peers (Robert Englund, Bill Moseley, Zach Galligan, Danielle Harris, etc) and filmmakers (Sean S. Cunningham, John Carl Buechler, Adam Green, Adam Rifkin, etc) to talk up his screen work, though that’s a surprisingly small part of a documentary that concentrates on other experiences – being bullied as a kid in Hawaii, a title-justifying long and torturous recovery from  a major burn sustained early in his career (not on a film shoot but to illustrate a magazine interview), his involvement in the con/fan scene.  There isn’t even much use of film clips, though we get a snippet of his debut as an extra in Robert Altman’s California Split, some Friday ‘kills’ (with fan connoisseurs rating his sleeping bag murder as a highlight) and a few bits of Hatchet, and glimpses of his straight acting (a bit as a biker cop in Monster, lead roles in somewhat less prestigious serial killer biopics as Ed Gein and Dennis Rader), until a last-minute montage of highlights from the likes of Avenging Force, The Horror Show, Muck, House IV, Behind the Mask The Rise of Leslie Vernon, Love in the Time of Monsters, etc.

 

Hodder has a genially grouchy public persona, which he’s happy to trot out for the fans (who relish being choked by him, which some of his friends express mild concerns about).  Here, he digs a bit deeper, and shows an emotional, almost inspirational side that suggests why he’s more liked than guys who play heroes.  His most oddly revealing aside is his pride as a stunt coordinator/stunt man in never having broken a bone, distancing himself from a macho boasting side of the profession which often dwells on the severity of the injuries suffered in the job.  It’s a talking-heads-and-clips show, with some minor soft focus shots of Hodder wandering and contemplating accompanied by a slightly stock tinkly emotional score – but surprisingly does work as more than just an inflated DVD extra.

 

*for those who take a statement like this as a prompt to recall  the body counts of, say, Clint Eastwood or Chow Yun Fat, stuntman Rick McCallum does clarify by claiming that what Hodder means is that he’s killed more people with his hands than any other actor in history.

 

Directed by Derek Dennis Herbert

 

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  1. Pingback: FrightFest 2017 – Complete Review Round-Up | The Kim Newman Web Site - August 29, 2017

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