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

Not Rated | | Documentary, History | 27 June 2003 (USA)
The history of traffic safety educational films and their notoriously lurid content.


Bret Wood


Bret Wood

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Credited cast:
Richard Anderson ... Husband (archive footage)
Sonny Bono ... Himself (archive footage)
John F. Butler John F. Butler ... Himself
Hans Conried ... (archive footage)
Earle Deems Earle Deems ... Himself (as Earle J. Deems)
John R. Domer John R. Domer ... Himself
David Krug David Krug ... Himself
Eric Krug Eric Krug ... Himself
Rick Prelinger Rick Prelinger ... Himself
Ronald Reagan ... Himself (archive footage)
Helena Reckitt Helena Reckitt ... Narrator (voice)
Robert F. Simon ... Rellik (archive footage)
James Stewart ... Narrator (archive footage)
Mike Vraney Mike Vraney ... Himself
James Waller James Waller ... Himself


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


Educational! Controversial! Unforgettable! See more »


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Release Date:

27 June 2003 (USA) See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,225, 27 June 2003, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$1,225, 27 June 2003
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Company Credits

Production Co:

Livin' Man Productions See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Features Plant Pilferage (1965) See more »


Performed by Alan Licht
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User Reviews

Great topic, bad angle
5 July 2004 | by shaffreytmSee all my reviews

I was shown one of these scare films in the mid-80s and believe they are enormously effective. This documentary is about a fascinating topic, but it's point of view promotes the idea that the films don't work. I could not disagree more. After seeing the real result of speeding, or going through a stop sign in one of these films in a high school driver's ed class I drove MUCH more carefully as a teenager. Those bloody corpses smashed into the windshield are so disgusting I believe I'm still the cautious driver I am today because of them. THE TACTIC WORKS. We live in an era when corporate media and the government believe the public is too queasy to see our war dead from Iraq. And those are just coffins! The more informed we are about the real consequences of our actions the better off we are.

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