7.1/10
175
8 user 21 critic

Hell's Highway: The True Story of Highway Safety Films (2003)

The history of traffic safety educational films and their notoriously lurid content.

Director:

Writer:

Reviews

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

ON DISC
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 3.9/10 X  

Multi-narrative adaptation of Richard v. Krafft-Ebing's notorious medico-forensic study of sexual perversity.

Director: Bret Wood
Stars: Kristi Casey, David Weber, Zoe Cooper
The Unwanted (2014)
Drama | Horror | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4/10 X  

In this Southern Gothic retelling of Sheridan Le Fanu's vampire story 'Carmilla,' a young drifter (Christen Orr) arrives in a rural town seeking the whereabouts of the mother she never knew... See full summary »

Director: Bret Wood
Stars: Hannah Fierman, Christen Orr, William Katt
The Other Half I (2009)
Short | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

To evade the psychological cruelty of her disabled husband, a woman arranges a tryst for him and a 'dancer' at a cheap motel.

Director: Bret Wood
Stars: Haji Abdullah, Jane Bass, Neal R. Hazard
The Little Death I (2010)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

An erotic thriller from the director of Psychopathia Sexualis, THE LITTLE DEATH offers a peek into the seedy boudoirs of a Victorian-era brothel, where a strong-willed reformer (Courtney ... See full summary »

Director: Bret Wood
Stars: Cynthia Barrett, Jerilynn Bedingfield, Bruce Bennett
Certificate: GP Comedy | Horror | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.2/10 X  

A technician brings a frozen specimen of the original Blob back from the North Pole. When his wife accidentally defrosts the thing, it terrorizes the populace, including the local hippies, kittens, and bowlers.

Director: Larry Hagman
Stars: Robert Walker Jr., Gwynne Gilford, Richard Stahl
Ana-ta-han (1953)
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Josef von Sternberg directed, photographed, provides the voice-over narration and wrote the screenplay (from a based-on-actual event novel by Michiro Maruyana translated by Younghill Kang) ... See full summary »

Director: Josef von Sternberg
Stars: Akemi Negishi, Tadashi Suganuma, Kisaburo Sawamura
Ganja & Hess (1973)
Drama | Fantasy | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

After being stabbed with an ancient, germ-infested knife, a doctor's assistant finds himself with an insatiable desire for blood.

Director: Bill Gunn
Stars: Duane Jones, Marlene Clark, Bill Gunn
Drama | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.5/10 X  

An atheist accidentally shoots his Baptist wife. She dies and goes to a crossroads, where the devil tries to lead her astray.

Director: Spencer Williams
Stars: Cathryn Caviness, Spencer Williams, Juanita Riley
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.1/10 X  

A naive country girl new to the big city gets involved in the underground sex scene.

Director: Lawrence Ramport
Stars: Olivia James, Beatrice Stolen, Michael Valentine
Horror | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 3.1/10 X  

The Plan - to build a super human; How? - by murdering innocent convenient victims and using various bits of them; The Result - Creatures on the rampage.

Director: Ted V. Mikels
Stars: Wendell Corey, John Carradine, Tom Pace
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

The life of the poor Tucker family, that worked as cotton pluggers and decided to get their own ground, but nature is against them.

Director: Jean Renoir
Stars: Zachary Scott, Betty Field, J. Carrol Naish
Rapture II (2006)
Short | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Two women initiate their friend into the joys of evangelicalism.

Director: Bret Wood
Stars: Jim Adams, Bruce Bennett, Daniel Burnley
Edit

Cast

Credited cast:
...
Husband (archive footage)
...
Himself (archive footage)
John F. Butler ...
Himself
...
(archive footage)
Earle Deems ...
Himself (as Earle J. Deems)
John R. Domer ...
Himself
David Krug ...
Himself
Eric Krug ...
Himself
Rick Prelinger ...
Himself
...
Himself (archive footage)
Helena Reckitt ...
Narrator (voice)
...
Rellik (archive footage)
...
Narrator (archive footage)
Mike Vraney ...
Himself
James Waller ...
Himself
Edit

Storyline

This film covers the early history of post World War II educational films, especially those involving traffic safety by the Highway Safety Foundation under direction of Richard Wayman. In the name of promoting safe driving in teenagers, these films became notorious for their gory depiction of accidents to shock their audiences to make their point. The film also covers the role of safety films of this era, their effect on North American teenage culture, the struggle between idealism and lurid exploitation and how they reflected the larger society concerns of the time that adults projected onto their youth. Written by Kenneth Chisholm (kchishol@rogers.com)

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Educational! Controversial! Unforgettable! See more »


Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

27 June 2003 (USA)  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$1,225 (USA) (27 June 2003)

Gross:

$1,225 (USA) (27 June 2003)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Connections

References No Greater Sin (1941) See more »

Soundtracks

Tone Poem for the Nikki Sixx Million
Performed by Alan Licht
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
A Flawed But Fascinating Look At The World Of Safety Films
18 January 2004 | by (Chicago, IL) – See all my reviews

"Hell's Highway" is a documentary focusing on the men who created the now-infamous highway safety films of the mid-twentieth century, in particular those involved with the Highway Safety Foundation (HSF) during its life as a procurer of the macabre as an educational tool. The film's director, Bret Wood, manages to capture the audience's interest without ever guiding their thoughts or beliefs towards a discernible argument or standpoint. We as an audience are never led to think or feel in a certain way about the film's subject, a characteristic that will be lauded by some and looked down upon by others. While the neutral position taken by Wood may seem like a noble endeavor, it unfortunately causes the documentary to be hollow at its center, and the viewer is left to feel that the only reason he or she is watching it is to see the usually shocking safety films contained within. Doc lovers will probably recognize the lack of form that this hollowness forces upon the film, causing it to not live up to expectations, while the casual viewer may find greater entertainment value in it, but will more than likely still recognize the empty space at the film's core.

Another flaw of this film is its over-reliance on clips from the actual highway safety films produced by the HSF and its lack of supporting evidence and arguments from interviews. The interviewees seem like they have a lot to say, but are never given the opportunity to fully express their ideas and thoughts behind the making of the safety films. Instead, Wood inserts usually the most shocking scenes from the films being mentioned for sheer entertainment purposes, as if he were afraid that the audience would lose interest in the doc's subject matter.

In addition to this, the film suffers from being overly-long and drawn out. At a running time of approximately ninety minutes, this film sets out to stretch a subject a little too thinly over a lengthy period of time. It is more than likely due to Wood's hesitance to take a stance on his subject that causes the film to seem extended beyond its limits. One cannot help but wondering what the film would be like if it followed a more rhetorical or dramatic arc, rather than focusing on interview footage that has a tendency to beat around the bush, so to speak. The film's final third suffers the most from this forced extension of time and topic as it skews into mentioning the other safety films produced by the HSF as it began to expand that had little or nothing to do with automobile accidents or cautions. The section on the HSF's rumored involvement with pornographic films seems like a complete digression and an ignorance of the doc's central idea and topic. And while the safety films dealing with shoplifters, child molesters, and the like are interesting in their own right, their presence in the film as a whole seems awkward and out of place.

Overall, this is an interesting film dealing with an extremely interesting subject. Its untraditional and neutral approach to its subject is a detriment, though, as is its overly-long running time. As a documentary, it succeeds on some levels but fails on more, but as an opportunity to see some of the most shocking and amazing highway safety films ever produced, it will definitely not disappoint.


8 of 12 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?