Hell’s Highway, 2002
directed by Jeff Leroy
starring Phoebe Dollar, Kiren David
Shot on video and released straight to video, Hell’s Highway is a low-budget slasher that looks like it was made a decade before it was actually released. Everything screams low-budget: the audio frequently jumps levels between shots, the camera effects are very basic at best, and there are awkward narrations added over shots that have the enthusiasm of a public service announcement for bad weather. All of these things I could have, and have tolerated, when it comes to this kind of horror, but very quickly the boundary of really bad to so bad it’s actually kind of funny is crossed.
Almost immediately, you’re gonna get to experience the most stereotypical set of college aged kids destined to die in a movie like this. Drinking while driving, passing around weed, and a girl enthusiastically firing off “wanna see my titties?” three times in a scene and obliging each time. Rarely is nudity so obnoxious that it makes me actually roll my eyes. A frequent philosophy in slasher flicks is to make certain characters unlikable, but the entire group is pretty obnoxious and unentertaining. It gets to a silly point when the same eager-to-flash girl decides to dump trash on a group of roadside crosses, later half-heartedly questioning why there are crosses on the roadside anyway. We get it, they’re dumb and horrible.
And then Ron Jeremy shows up. Yeah. He is, and somehow this is not a compliment, the most convincing actor in the movie. This is only about thirty minutes in, and really where the film starts to lose any chance of redeeming itself. The ambition the movie shows at times, is also actually funny. Despite clearly having absolutely no budget, the film attempts multiple exploding buildings with cars parked nearby (which are clearly hot wheels, and two suns are visible in the sky), and then also goes for the exterior and interior of a satellite in space. The latter scene was used in an effort to add style and tension to a cell phone call scene, but it seems like the worst idea to go for when the budget is this low.
There’s even a chainsaw, and the film messes that up, too. It makes a certain franchise disaster featuring Matthew McConaughey and Renee Zellweger seem like a classic. There even is a Leatherface spin with the chainsaw, yet it’s hardly homage but an insult in something this unironically bad. The ending is of course preposterous, almost like someone challenged a writer to come up with the worst “twist” ever, which caps everything off appropriately. The only actual positive in the movie is the makeup effects, which in all honestly, for such an independent movie, are decent. And if anyone out there would be a fan of these kind of low-budget, shot on video, road trip slashers, its probably me. But I can only recommend Hell’s Highway if you’re looking to watch something with your friends and throw lines at, laughing at the wreck that it is.