Hell's Highway (plus Signal 30, Highways of Agony, Options to Live)
Directed by Bret Wood
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.
Produced between 1959 and 1979 by a group of volunteers in Mansfield, Ohio, these films promoted safety by presenting color footage of careless driving's dark consequences: blood-stained wreckage, injured bodies, fresh corpses. In the 1970s and '80s, these films disappeared from the American classroom and assumed an almost mythical status among those who had once seen them. Hell's Highway unearths these artifacts of grim Americana and interviews the filmmakers responsible for this radical educational movement.
Hell's Highway 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. But even the most innocent educational film was shadowed with potential dangers: cinematic manifestation of society's darkest fears.
"Weirdly nostalgic...viscerally unsettling!" -- J. Hoberman, The Village Voice