By definition, a rock documentary (rockumentary) is a documentary about rock music or the musicians who play it. So, I guess the film DEAD HANDS DIG DEEP could essentially fall into that category. At it’s core, it is but there’s so much more going on, a deeper story than just paying tribute to the music or the musicians. It attempts to answer deeper questions, even darker questions. The film succeeds in many different respects and it may leave you with even more questions. The subject covered in the film is Edwin Borsheim, former frontman for shock-rockers Kettle Cadaver.
During his tenure in Kettle Cadaver, Edwin Borsheim carved out a reputation for himself and his band. Taking a road very few had ever traveled, he created a live show like no one had ever seen. Night after night he would slice his own flesh, wrap barbed wire around his head, push hooks through his skin, and nail his dick to a board. If that wasn’t enough, there’s a chance you could have seen him fucking a dead coyote with some big metal contraption. The band is long defunct and Edwin now lives alone in complete seclusion. DEAD HANDS DIG DEEP isn’t about the band or the music, it’s about the man, Edwin Borsheim. It takes a look into his past, his childhood growing up in suburbia and the effects it had him.
Director Jai Love first learned of his subject through his friend, Spencer Heath. He quickly began to work on the film and he should be praised for the particular approach he ended up taking. He could have easily taken the low road and just focused on the grotesque, the freakshow aspect. Instead, he tries his best to get inside the mind of Borsheim, to give us a glimpse of who is he and where he’s from. The result ends up being an honest portrait of a man who has been put through the ringer. A man who did whatever he needed to do in order to cope. Edwin spends much of the film reflecting and sharing stories about his past. We even learn about his heartbreak and losing the woman he loved. The thing with Edwin, is he just doesn’t know how to cope with his emotions the way most of us do. While some people will just think he’s a lunatic (It’s hard not to when we learn he had slept with a life-size wooden replica of his ex-wife), others may see he’s just lost or misunderstood. The comparison to G.G. Allin is bound to come up but the difference between the two men is leaps and bounds apart. Director Love digs as deep as he possibly can, calling on friends, his brother, and even Edwin’s mom to shine some light on his life and early years. He captures some raw emotion from the family and by the end of the picture you walk away with a better understanding of this unique artist and the path he chose to walk down. Jai Love has assembled an incredibly mature film, one you will be thinking about for days. Did I mention Jai is only nineteen?