A group of four college students from Pennsylvania head to Redondo Beach, CA on a road trip to do what college kids do best: drink their livers into oblivion. Along the way, on a stretch of road in Death Valley known as the Devilâs Freeway, they pick up the young, attractive hitchhiker Lucinda, whose idea of a good time is far different than that of the unsuspecting travelers.
I remember when I was younger I liked to build plastic car models. Or, more accurately, I liked to start building plastic car models. Inevitably, I would want to see the finished product so bad, I would begin to cut corners and start to give a half-ass effort just to finish the project. What was left was a plastic car model that almost looked amazingâŚbut not quite. Hellâs Highway feels like that: a movie that, in spite of its low-budget parameters, is almost awesome.
Hereâs the low-down: Sterling Entertainment (www.sterlingmoviefactory.com )is âthe premier producer-for-hire of low budget filmmaking. Founder David Sterling has produced over 50 films on a micro-budget ($10,000.00 to $100,000.00), all of which have made money.â So sayeth his web site. Hellâs Highway is one of these films and it is obviously low-budget, campy, funny and, without question, a blast.
The film starts off typically enough: dude driving through a scorching hot southwestern desert, chick needing a ride standing provocatively on the side of the road. She stands on (and, yes, sheâs standing on it, not by it) one of those memorial sites you always see when you drive across lonely stretches of highway, marking the unfortunate demise of a loved one. Dude pulls over to lend a hand, but not before concealing his Bowie knife in the newspaper reporting the string of deaths in the area. Oh, boy, is she in for itâŚor so we are led to think.
From here on I was so pleasantly surprised by the depth of the storyline I couldnât believe it. Well, until the last 10 minutes anyway. But up to that point I kept saying to myself, âHey! This is pretty good!â, or, âWell THAT was cool!â, and even a couple, âMan, I didnât see that one coming!ââs. The poor quality of the film and the horrible but somehow effective score did not jive with the fact that a cool story was being told here, an honest-to-goodness story, and whatâs more, it was being told well. There were so many different techniques used in such innovative ways that I couldnât help but to think of, and I hesitate to put it in this league, the âEvil Deadâ (cue angels singing). For me and my fellow Deadites, the âEvil Deadâ is the quintessential low budget horror film, so comparing Hellâs Highway, to that masterpiece just feelsâŚwrong. But the similarities in philosophy of camera shots, editing, sense of humor, etc. are nonetheless all there, albeit in a different package.
And then the end happened and ruined it all.
See, I found myself really getting into the story. The low-budget thing wasnât a hindrance. The over-the-top gore, which can be too much in most cases, actually added to the story. I began wondering why, in this era of âremake-every-film-thatâs-ever-been-made-because-we-donât-have-one-original-idea-of-our-ownâ, hasnât this little gem been considered for a remake?! Then the endâŚwellâŚyou get the idea. I donât want to ruin the end for you; the movie will do the job all by itself.
By no means should you avoid this movie, however. Just because I was disappointed with the ending doesnât mean there isnât plenty of entertaining aspects of the film. I compared it to the Holy Grail of low- budget Horror, for goodness sake; itâs bound to be liked by some like-minded individuals. Are you like me? Did you almost build the perfect Revell â64 Impala? Do you look upon tree branches in the forest with a wary eye? Are you curiously drawn to Ron Jeremyâs legitimate acting pursuits? If so, you just may enjoy 95% of Hellâs Highway.
Get this with 3 other releases on the: MIDNIGHT HORROR COLLECTION: ROAD TRIP TO HELL