“Hitch-hiking harlot from hell.”
Chris’s chicken parmigiana is legendary here for its narcotic effect: eat it, fall asleep, simple as that. It thus perhaps means more than it seems that Hell’s Highway kept me awake, post-parmigiana. Sure, it’s cheap (cost about $5K, shot on video); sure, it’s dumb – but to counter that chicken, a film must have something going for it. The setup is simple and effective: a carload of college teens, two male, two female, meet evil hitch-hiker Lucinda (Dollar). No matter what they do, she takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’, whether it’s wielding a firearm, chainsaw, or generally bad-ass attitude.
The gore is copiously energetic, if unconvincing; the main strength here is enthusiasm and self-awareness. For example, when debating whether to pick up Lucinda, one girl says that’s how horror movies start, but is over-ruled by a guy who points out it’s how porno movies start too – and lo, we get an amusing cameo by Ron Jeremy. Also check out the Chainsaw and Sergio Leone homages, though the latter is undermined by the producer not allowing a Morricone-esque score. Could do without the Blair Witch camcorder stuff, however.
Phoebe Dollar makes a fine impression as the unstoppable Lucinda, despite a final ‘explanation’ that should have been left on the beer-mat whence it came. The first scene after she gets in the car has a genuinely nasty edge – she fingers one of the girls at gunpoint – and it’s a shame this isn’t maintained. The rest of the cast is okay: these characters could get very annoying, yet only become moderately so. I correctly guessed their order of demise inside ten minutes, and was disappointed by their general longevity. But go in expecting as little as we did, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Dir: Jeff Leroy
Star: Phoebe Dollar, Kiren David, Hank Horner, Beverly Lynne