Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Highway to Hell (1991)

I have to confess....while searching for the perfect flick, I pulled this film off the shelf because I thought, prayed, and hoped that Jake Busey was on the cover. Alas! It was mere photo editing and my own desires creating a mirage of Busey-Beauty. But, after reading the back, and seeing some very convincing screenshots, I said, "Let's do this thing!" Whereas in life, my decision processes always seems to mislead and confuse, I am rarely led astray when it comes to the ancient art of deciphering VHS covers. And this, my friends, was surely a masterpiece. Where do I begin.....well this seems like one of those listy movies, so here goes.  I wonder how many booyah-points it would take to convince you to watch this film....? Maybe I should go in order of awesomeness? =
hell cop hell minions and hell whore, Kristy Swanson (with the look of a 90's stay-at-home-genie), a real motorcycle gang, Pontius is my copilot, Gilbert Godfried as Hitler and Ben Stiller as Attila the Hun (+ actually all of the Stillers make an appearance in this one...), man, woman and demon boobs, a nun with a cigar, Rob Lowe's little bro, a satanic mechanic, an army of different colored VW bugs, claymation sonicspeed face + Claymation Cerberus!, a belly button beard, melted parakeets, an academy award nominated writer (not for this one = a tragic upset! although he has written and directed some pretty classic features...) + director of one of the best creepy children's movies of all time, dancing dismembered body parts, and so many cameos I couldn't even catch them all....Hey! = that's not a bad list!

Luckily, the imdb commentators are there to save the day, with insights of wisdom like:

"Popping up in snazzy bits are the ever-amiable Richard Farnsworth as a folksy, friendly ol' fuddy dud gas station proprietor, Pamela Gidley as a helpful motorcycle mama, 80's hard rock icon Lita Ford as a crazed hitch-hiker, stand-up comic Gilbert Gottfried as a raving neurotic Hitler, and Kevin Peter Hall as the eyeless captain of a boat which travels across the river Styx. Robin Vidgeon's bright, dazzling cinematography and a way cool bluesy'n'funky score by Hidden Faces further enhance the marvelously idiosyncratic merriment to be found in this one-of-a-kind flaky favorite."

Wow Woodyanders - the words roll off your fingers like honey mixed with butter. Brrravo!, as my Armenian friend says

Or what about Gary Imhoff's critical analysis of classical mythology in this culturally significant piece?:

"Highway to Hell is a retelling of the Greek myth of Orpheus, who entered Hades to bring his dead wife, the nymph Eurydice, back to life. There are two main changes in this telling of the story. First, Orpheus used the beauty of his singing and lyre playing (he was the son of a muse) to charm the guards of hell, Charon and Cerberus, and to persuade Hades to release Eurydice, while the hero of the movie uses a big gun and powerful car. Second, the Greek myth is tragic -- Orpheus was warned not to look back at Eurydice as they left the underworld. He did; she was kept back; and he himself died soon afterward. In this telling, the happy couple escapes Hell.

It might be an interesting project for a film student to compare the story to other film versions of the myth -- among others, there is a film of Offenbach's opera "Orpheus in the Underworld," a 1990 movie called "Shredder Orpheus" whose IMDB plot summary is, "Skateboarder named Orpheus and friends go to Hell to stop television signals that are brainwashing America," and two great classics, Jean Cocteau's Orphee (1949) and Marcel Camus's Orfeo Negro (Black Orpheus, 1959), set in Rio's carnival."

Oh crap. Did I spoil the ending? Thanks a lot smarty pants! Also, where can I get Shredder Orpheus, and why isn't it already on my shelf....?!..(Of course it was filmed in Seattle....)

Final Judgement: "Busey-less but still beautiful!/Hell has never been so hot!/Horror-fantasy-comedy = thank you for reminding me why you are my favorite genre...!/"Don't Buckle Up. It Won't Help"

Also, the fact that this film has not been released on DVD is both sad and quite the epic validation of my vintage VHS collection. Take that digital diva demons!
UPDATE: ....perhaps I spoke too soon....