Forgotten Action Cinema: Highway to Hell

“Drop Dead Fred” director Ate de Jong’s deliriously enjoyable satanic road trip “Highway to Hell” is one of my all-time favorite late-night Cinemax discoveries. Ever. Now, thanks to the efforts of a certain movie savvy co-worker, it is a proud member of my ever-evolving collection of mismatched celluloid, although I would like to see a proper DVD release before the end of my lifetime. I’m just saying. Working from a surprisingly solid script by none other than “Payback” mastermind Brian Helgeland, Jong’s outlandish tale of one man’s hellish struggle to rescue his shanghaied bride-to-be from the clutches of a lecherous Lucifer (Patrick Bergin) and his legion of nefarious henchmen manages to coast by on sheer giddy energy alone. Think “Police Academy” meets “Mad Max”. Thankfully, Chad Lowe’s overly-caffeinated performance helps ease the stinging itch generally associated with the film’s less than stellar moments, most of which seem to involve either Ben Stiller or his extended family. Nonetheless, Helgeland’s dark wit and Jong’s knack for silly sight gags make for an enjoyably jolly B-grade adventure, even if the film itself tends to wear out its welcome a few minutes before the end credits are ready to rock and roll. Feel free to blame Kristy Swanson if you feel the inexplicable urge to point a gnarled finger at someone who doesn’t carry their fair share of the weight. Fun if you approach it in the right frame of mind. I always knew I’d see Jerry Stiller in Hell.