Chad Lowe (Life Goes On) and Kristy Swanson (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) star in this horror-comedy-action-adventure as young lovers, Charlie and Rachel eloping to Las Vegas for a secret wedding. Standing in their way is Satan, who taken a liking to the lovely Rachel and has sent his Hell Cop (C.J. Graham, Jason from Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI) to bring her down to Hell where she can satisfy his devilish lust. When Charlie follows, he's thrust into an expected world of living satanic bikers, cannibalistic blondes and a coffee shop where the only thing living is the food. The stellar cast includes Patrick Bergin (Patriot Games), Richard Farnsworth (The Straight Story), Pamela Gidley (Cherry 2000), Kevin Peter Hall (The Predator from Predator 1 & 2), Jerry Stiller (Seinfeld) with his wife Anne Meara as Medea, his son Ben Stiller as Attila the Hun and his daughter Amy Stiller as Cleopatra, also featuring rocker Lita Ford and comedian Gilbert Gottfried as Hitler. Directed by cult director Ate de Jong (Drop Dead Fred) with a screenplay by Brian Helgeland (L.A. Confidential).
Angus Young and Brian Johnson said it best, "I'm on a "Highway to Hell", which is exactly what Rob Lowe's younger brother Chad Lowe is on in this film, titled 'Highway to Hell'. This is a small, low-budget B-Movie from 1992 with a ton of fun cameos of actors, before they were really famous. Not only that, the guy who wrote 'L.A. Confidential' and 'Mystic River' (Brian Helgeland) penned the screenplay, and the guy who directed that gem of a film 'Drop Dead Fred' (Ate de Jong), sat in the director's chair for this one.
The cast and crew are as bizarre as the story, which follows a demon cop from hell, kidnapping girls, and sending them to hell, to be Satan's slaves, servants, and brides. You had me at demon cop. For being a low-budget film, 'Highway to Hell' manages to keep an ultra-fast pace, some excellent practical makeup effects, and wild and zany characters that make this film highly entertaining, despite it's over-the-top acting and silly script.
Two young lovers Charlie (Chad Lowe) and Rachel (Kristy Swanson) are desperate to get married and head to Las Vegas to seal the deal. They take the back roads in order to stay off their parent's radar in fear that they will stop their wedding. Low and behold though, they get pulled over by Sgt. Bedlam (C.J. Graham), who is the demon cop from hell, who kidnaps Rachel, leaving Charlie to get to hell and save her. He comes across a ton of tortured souls from hell as well as some insane demons and motorcycle gang members.
There is even Hitler (Gilbert Gottfried) and Genghis Khan (Ben Stiller) making appearances. Charlie enlists the help of some weirdos at gas stations and other locales on his journey, where the film becomes a car chase sequence straight to hell, leaving the title of the film, the literal story. You can't ask for more here. The entire set design and look of the film, feels like a Tim Burton movie, and is actually looks good, considering the cheap budget. Ate de Jong also never gives you a chance to breathe here, which is a good thing, because if this movie slowed down to a crawl, it wouldn't be as fun or as silly as it is now.
There really aren't any scares here, but the comedy is high and you'll find yourself laughing as much as you'll roll your eyes. 'Highway to Hell' as all the inner-working and structure to be one of the great cult midnight movies. I'm just surprised it hasn't reached the level of cult status like other films have had in the past. 'Highway to Hell' is so insane on almost every level, that it just simply works, making it also a brilliant film with a very young cast and crew for the time it was made.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'Highway to Hell' comes with a 25GB Blu-ray Disc that is Region A locked from Kino-Lorber. It is housed in a hard, blue plastic case with reversible cover art. There are no inserts here.
'Highway to Hell' comes with a decent 1080p HD transfer presented in 1.85:1 aspect ratio. For a movie that is almost 25-years old and made a super low budget, this image holds up in this new transfer. That being said, there are a few minor issues that accompany this video presentation. On a whole though, the detail looks as sharp and vivid as it can be. In the brightest of lighting, closeups reveal the fantastic makeup effects and blemishes on the actor's faces. The costumes also look very good here too.
The desert wastelands and other scenic spots looks sharp as well. When the darkness sets in, things can get a bit soft and murky though, hindering the detail a little bit. There is a filmic grain to the whole image as well, but it never really fluctuates with the exception of some of the lower lit moments. Black levels are deep and inky with crush kept to a minimum. Colors are bold in certain scenes and are all well-balanced and saturated. The skin tones are also natural here. There was some minor banding, video noise, and little specs of dirt and debris, but it's nothing to write home about, leaving this video presentation with decent marks.
This release comes with a DTS-HD MA 2.0 mix and could have sounded much better. For an insane action/horror piece, the sound here is rather unremarkable. This could have had a boastful and fun sound design, but it all falls flat. Sound effects aren't that loud or forceful, which is unpleasant, because there are a ton of violent scenes with fighting and car chases.
Ambient noises are decent, but still lack the full immersion. Dialogue is clear and easy to follow, but is still on the soft side of things. The music and score never sweeps you up or adds that needed energy either. There were some tin can shrills in the higher octaves too, but no pops, cracks, or hiss was detected. I hoped for a better audio presentation here.
Audio Commentary - Director Ate de Jong talks candidly about how difficult it was to make the movie back in the early 90s and how much the studio interfered. He talks about casting, the makeup, stunts, and how he feels on watching the movie for the first time in quite a while. Great commentary track.
Interview with Steven Johnson (HD, 11 Mins.) - Makeup effects wizard Steven Johnson discusses how he got the job on the film and how he created some of the fun practical makeup effects. Excellent interview.
Animated Image Gallery (HD, 3 Mins.) - This is a collection of movie stills.
Theatrical Trailer (HD, 3 Mins.) - The original theatrical trailer is included here.
Surprisingly, 'Highway to Hell' is a lot of fun. It's violent, fast-paced, over-the-top, and full of hilarious cameos. You can see what the bizarre Ate de Jong was striving for here, which was an all out, original, and weird comedy/horror film with tons of action. It's one of those movies that kind of fell off the face of the planet for reasons unknown, but it still holds up today. Plus, it's always great to see a ton of famous people in the movie make cameos in their "before they were famous" phase. The video and audio presentations are passable for the most part, and the extras are all worth looking at. This is one of those forgotten films that you'll want to have in your collection for it's sheer brilliance and insanity. Recommended!