Hell's Highway 1905 NR CC

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(48) IMDb 6.9/10
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Critically-acclaimed upon its 2003 theatrical release, HELL'S HIGHWAY: THE TRUE STORY OF HIGHWAY SAFETY FILMS recovers a missing chapter of American film history as it examines the fascinating and shocking driver education films of yesteryear. The film also explores the driver's ed film on a wider scale, with scenes from more whimsical classroom films and interviews with such pop culture historians as ephemeral films archivist Richard Prelinger and cult video impresario Mike Vraney.

Starring:
Richard Anderson, Sonny Bono
Runtime:
1 hour 31 minutes

Hell's Highway

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Hell's Highway - The True Story of Highway Safety Films

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Product Details

Genres Documentary
Director Bret Wood
Starring Richard Anderson, Sonny Bono
Supporting actors John F. Butler, Hans Conried, Earle Deems, John R. Domer, David Krug, Eric Krug, Rick Prelinger, Ronald Reagan, Helena Reckitt, Robert F. Simon, Mike Vraney, James Waller, Bret Wood, Martin Yant, Dick York
Studio Kino International
MPAA rating NR (Not Rated)
Captions and subtitles English Details
Rental rights 3-day viewing period. Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly and download to 2 locations Details
Format Amazon Instant Video (streaming online video and digital download)

Other Formats

Customer Reviews

This film documents an interesting part of American culture, but it was too intense for me.
Batya67
Namely, no sooner than they started showing scenes from a film and I started getting into it they would cut back to the stodgy characters.
TidesManian Devil
If you have a sensitivity to true-life images and videos of suffering and death (a child in one scene), then be forewarned.
BellaSouth

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Leach HALL OF FAME on July 30, 2005
Format: DVD
Oh, the days of driver's education! What a fun experience that was, eh? A bunch of kids packed into a classroom to study the ins and outs of stop signs, speed limits, and turn signals. Those were the days. For many of us, the most memorable part of the class was the day Officer Friendly came into the classroom, set up the film/slide projector, and proceeded to show twenty or thirty minutes of good old fashioned highway carnage. Long before I sat down to enjoy such gorefests as George Romero's Dead Trilogy or any of the Friday the 13th films, I saw scenes of stomach churning violence in driver's education class. It's sort of sad to say that my class didn't watch any of the films on display in the documentary "Hell's Highway." What we did see was a state trooper come into class with a series of slides far worse than anything witnessed in this two disc DVD set dedicated to the history of safety films. Moreover, the cop in our class stood at the front of the room and fairly screamed at all of us about how we'd end up ground into pudding in a car wreck if we ever broke a traffic law. What a guy!

When I learned about Bret Wood's documentary, I knew I had to see it if only to discover the same scenes of human misery I witnessed back then made an appearance here. No such luck. We never watched "Signal 30," "Mechanized Death," or any of the other atrocities released by the Highway Safety Foundation (HSF) of Mansfield, Ohio. That's the organization behind the vast majority of traffic safety films and the focus of "Hell's Highway." According to the film, an accountant with an obsession for police work, Richard Wayman, started down the path to forming the organization way back in the 1950s.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Robin Simmons VINE VOICE on October 24, 2003
Format: DVD
If you're a certain age, remember those gory films in "Driver's Ed" classes? HELL'S HIGHWAY (Kino International) is the true story of highway safety films. Two discs document the filmmakers and their grisly anecdotes, with clips from numerous flicks. Includes three uncut classics with lots of mangled teen bodies. Campy, informative and authentically horrifying.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 1, 2003
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I have been waiting for this release for over a year now.I must say that I am a little disapointed.The idea behind this film is sound,and its good to see the people behind these old films,but the clips shown are in no particular order,scattered all over with very little thought behind their placement.I would have started with Signal 30 clips and then gone in chronological order with the additional scenes.It was "good" to see clips of the rare "drive and survive" and "death on the highway" though as these I have never seen before.Overall though,everyone should see this..its good information for drivers even today.Once you see some of the "reality" you will never want to be a Signal 30 yourself.Much thanks to all those behind the Highway Safety Films,and the makers of this release.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By TidesManian Devil on February 11, 2005
Format: DVD
I agree with the other reviewers that the concept behind doing this DVD was great, but the actual end product leaves a lot to be desired. Yes, the clips from the films are presented in a disjointed fashion, and the background information on the folks that pioneered Highway Safety Films was a snoozer. After I received this DVD through an online rental service I eagerly popped it into my DVD player and was initially very impressed. The menus are slickly done, and the film gets off to a good start. But about 15 minutes into it I realized that I wasn't enjoying it - and was becoming frustrated by it - for the very reasons mentioned above and in other reviews. Namely, no sooner than they started showing scenes from a film and I started getting into it they would cut back to the stodgy characters. Very bad flow and editings indeed. A much better approach in my opinion would have been to feature the uncut films as the main course, and condense all the background stories as one or more of the extras featured on disc 2. That way we could have still gotten the stories about how the Highway Safety Films got started and the background of those involved without it interfering with the enjoyment of the films themselves.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By David Bonesteel on June 26, 2004
Format: VHS Tape
This video documents the heyday of the gruesome driver's safety films that used to be shown to students in many schools. Renowned for their use of actual footage of dead and injured people from traffic accidents, they have become the stuff of urban legend over the years. This film chronicles how a small group of Ohio volunteers began recording the aftermaths of accidents, the evolution of the films, and how they were received by their audiences.
I'm sure that there is an interesting film to be made here, but this one misses the mark. I wanted to know more about those people who began shooting these pictures and what motivated them to do it. After all, it's a very strange hobby to take up: dragging oneself out of bed at a moment's notice to rush out to an accident site and take a gruesome photo or film. Once their Highway Safety Films business was a going concern, there was a profit motive, but the filmmakers never push hard enough to find out what had them out there in the first place, before the first film or safety presentation had ever been made.
The film is unfocused as well. It wastes time on sketchy allegations of mob connections and illegal porno production, passing up the opportunity to spend more time with a small-time video dealer who packages those films for the current generation as gory freak-shows along the lines of the "Faces of Death" series. It would have been interesting to know what the makers of the original films think about how they are being received today. Other aspects of the topic, such as the essentially hostile and abusive nature of showing this material to young kids is touched on, but not examined adequately.
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