Hell's Highway: The True Story of Highway Safety Films (2002)
Average Rating: 6.3/10
Reviews Counted: 12
Fresh: 9 | Rotten: 3
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Critic Reviews: 4
Fresh: 3 | Rotten: 1
Average Rating: 3.5/5
User Ratings: 252
As the 1950s drew to a close, high school hygiene films and VD cautionary tales gave birth to another, far more graphic sort of fear-inducing curriculum: the driver's-ed movie. Bearing such titles as Signal 30, The Third Killer, Wheels of Tragedy, and Highways of Agony, these films -- usually produced by the Highway Safety Foundation -- intercut staged, fictional tales of impudent hot-rodders and drunk-driving, non-safety-belt-wearing teens with actual accident footage. Director Bret Wood
Jan 1, 2003 Wide
Oct 28, 2003
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Maybe the next best thing to putting 'Deadman's Curve' on the turntable and cranking up the volume.
Someday, perhaps, someone will make a documentary of Volvo commercials and Consumers Union test-drive videos, but I doubt it will be as unnerving -- or as much fun -- as Hell's Highway.
Director Bret Wood -- no relation to Ed -- sketches the fascinating history of Wayman's highway safety films.
Winds up functioning no differently than the disgraceful, despicable films it scrutinizes.
The interviews with Prelinger are especially smart, discussing the ideological agendas frequently lurking in 'educational' materials.
Wood delights in exposing the rubbernecking roots of these lurid films...
The real highlights in Hell's Highway are the driver's ed scare films themselves, and [director] Wood has presented a generous sampling of often flabbergasting clips.
How effective were the highway safety films in stopping accidents? Opinions differ. How effective is Hell's Highway in curing you of ever wanting to see another one? Completely.
Ephemeral films expert Rick Prelinger is on hand to situate the films in a larger cultural context but the clips speak louder than any interview, evoking a pre-seatbelt era of highway carnage and celluloid tough love.
This not-for-the -squeamish documentary will definitely make you think twice about not buckling up.
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