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

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

Director: Bret Wood

Cast: Bret Wood, Helena Reckitt, Sammy Davis Jr., Ronald Wilson Reagan

     
 

Kino on Video presents an engaging look at the Highway Safety Foundation with their packed release of Hell's Highway: The True Story of Highway Safety Films. Packaged here in a special double-disc edition, this set dives into the vast history of Ohio's grassroots company that changed the face of educational safety forever. The film is presented in a 1.33:1 full…  See more details below

Overview

Kino on Video presents an engaging look at the Highway Safety Foundation with their packed release of Hell's Highway: The True Story of Highway Safety Films. Packaged here in a special double-disc edition, this set dives into the vast history of Ohio's grassroots company that changed the face of educational safety forever. The film is presented in a 1.33:1 full-screen image for the well-maintained archival footage, with the new interviews being filmed in a 1.85:1 widescreen picture. Extras on the first disc include two trailers and almost 15 minutes of additional outtakes that flesh out more of the human stories from some of the participants. On disc two, the bulk of the extras begin with three of the Foundation's complete driver's ed shorts, including Signal 30, Highways of Agony, and Options to Live. Fourteen excerpts from the Highway Safety Foundation are also provided, along with a clip from Death on the Highway -- a notorious safety film from their main competing company, The Suicide Club (most commonly known for doctoring up traffic accident photos with red paint for a more jarring effect). In the last section, the entire pressbook for the film can be browsed through four segments covering everything from production notes, a historical timeline of the Foundation, a 55-page image gallery, and an interview with the director. By the end, you should probably have had your fill of extreme vintage safety for quite a while. Still, it's a fantastic release whose exhaustiveness on the subject can't be beat (also documented on Fantoma's Educational Archives Vol. 3: Driver's Ed disc), and with people like Something Weird's Mike Vraney and the remaining Foundation members lending a hand, one should expect nothing less.

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Mark Deming
Anyone who took Driver's Education in an American Public School in the 1960s or '70s either saw such infamously gory "scare movies" as Signal 30, Mechanized Death, or Red Asphalt or heard the stories about them -- strange, cheaply made films which featured hideously bloody footage of actual auto accidents, designed to demonstrate the danger of carelessness behind the wheel but usually inspiring nausea and mass gross-outs among their audiences. Plenty of people over the years must have wondered, "Who the hell made these movies?" Hell's Highway: The True Story of Highway Safety Films not only answers that question, but reveals that the story is stranger and more fascinating than many of us might have expected. Hell's Highway deals in part with the subgenre of the blood-splattered Driver's Ed films, but mostly focuses on Highway Safety Films, an outfit from Mansfield, OH, which started out by putting together slide shows of auto accident snapshots, and eventually became a key producer of educational and industrial films, working with the cooperation of Ohio police officials in the making of movies about horrific auto accidents, safe driving tips for truck and bus drivers, and procedural techniques for police officers. How a handful of zealous police fans who liked chasing down auto accidents with cameras evolved into a organization that sponsored a financially ruinous "Highway Safety Telethon" starring Sammy Davis Jr., while also making films about child molestation and "sexual deviance" (aka men having sex with one another in public rest rooms), is an long, strange story, and Hell's Highway unfortunately seems to leave out a few pieces of the puzzle along the way. But the interviews with the former associates of HSF prexy Richard D. Wayman are both fascinating and informative, the comments from ephemeral film enthusiasts Richard Prelinger and Mike Vraney are insightful, and the memories of folks who saw these films during their days as impressionable youths testify to the effectiveness of these films, for good or ill (or sometimes both). While Hell's Highway is flawed (it might have been better if it was longer, allowing for more background on both the films and the full stories of the filmmakers), it's absorbing and entertaining, and takes both the films and the people who made them seriously without ignoring the strange undercurrents of this perverse corner of the universe of educational filmmaking. It's also certainly better than trying to sit through the films in question all by their lonesome.

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Product Details

Release Date:
11/28/2003
UPC:
0738329031220
Original Release:
2002
Rating:
NR
Source:
Kino Video
Presentation:
[B&W]
Time:
1:31:00
Sales rank:
43,543

Special Features

Three complete driver's ed shorts: Signal 30 (1959), Highways of Agony (1969), & Options to Live (1979); Excerpts from 15 shocking classroom films, including Mechanized Death (1961), Wheels of Tragedy (1963), Carrier or Killer (1965), Death on the Highway (1965), The Third Killer (1966), & more; 14 minutes of deleted scenes; Two theatrical trailers; Gallery of images and documents; Hell's Highway pressbook

Cast & Crew

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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Hell's Highway: The True Story of the Highway Safety Films
1. Opening Titles [3:34]
2. Film In the Classroom [8:33]
3. "Teenicide" [3:54]
4. Running Accidents [4:38]
5. "Signal 30" [6:13]
6. Intensifying the Effect [4:15]
7. Aesthetic Issues [6:34]
8. Grim Realities [11:34]
9. A Host of Imitators [4:17]
10. The Foundation [3:57]
11. Police Training Films [6:52]
12. "Camera Surveillance" [2:58]
13. "The Child Molester" [5:12]
14. The Collapse [5:16]
15. Changing Times [13:04]

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