Blood on the Highway appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. This was a mediocre transfer at best.
Sharpness came with good and bad aspects. A fair number of shots exhibited positive delineation and accuracy, but plenty of others suffered from overt flaws. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and in terms of source flaws, I noticed nothing significant. I did see mild edge enhancement, and the transfer exhibited light mosquito noise.
Colors seemed bland, though much of that was by design. The movie didn’t boast a dynamic palette, as it usually stayed with quiet earthy tones. These came across as somewhat dull, but they were acceptable within their stylistic limitations. Blacks were decent, but shadows offered another weakness, as low-light shots were rather thick and muddy. I saw enough positives to make this a “C-“, but don’t expect memorable visuals.
At least the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Highway worked better. While not a super-active affair, the soundfield opened up the spectrum in a satisfying way when necessary. In particular, action sequences offered good range and breadth, as they showed nice movement. These elements could be a bit speaker-specific at times, but they still spread around the room pretty well, and they added life to the proceedings.
Audio quality seemed good. Speech came across as reasonably natural and distinctive, and I noticed no edginess or other flaws. Music showed decent clarity and definition, while effects seemed accurate and full. This wasn’t a great track, but it was more than satisfactory.
Highway comes with a few extras. A sprawling audio commentary features co-director/co-writer Blair Rowan, co-director Barak Epstein, executive producer Robert Bell, co-writer Chris Gardner, sound designer Gary Parks, director of photography Clay Liford, and actors Laura Stone and Deva George. All of them sit together for a running, screen-specific look at cast and performances, sets and locations, various effects, editing, budget issues, and thoughts about the shoot.
One potential problem with multi-participant commentaries: they all talk on top of each other. That becomes a major issue here, as the level of general chatter often makes it tough to understand what anyone says – and it means it’s difficult to get much information from the track. Oh, you’ll learn a decent amount about the production, but the noisy nature of the discussion makes it a tiring listen.
Next comes a documentary called 12 Days in Fate. The 29-minute, 20-second program includes notes from Epstein, Gardner, Rowan, George, Liford, Stone, executive producer Robert Bell, and actors Tony Medlin, Nicholas Brendon, Robin Gierhart and Nate Rubin. “Days” covers the movie’s genesis and development, performances, cinematography, and general thoughts from the shoot.
While it does include some documentary interviews, “Days” more closely follows the “production diary” path. This means most of it consists of footage from the set, and that’s a good thing. The interview comments add some decent notes, but the material from the production provides the most enjoyable parts. This becomes an interesting look at a low-budget flick.
A Consumart Employee Orientation Video runs seven minutes, 35 seconds. This provides a fake orientation program for the vampire-filled store in the movie. I don’t recall any reference to this video in the film itself, so it’s unclear why it was created. It’s not very funny, unfortunately, partly because it suffers from awful acting.
Lastly, we find a one-minute, 49-second Visual FX Reel. A text intro from Deva George – who also did the flick’s effects – tells us we’ll find a “before/after” collection of shots, and we do. These show scenes in their pre/post-effects states. It’s a quick but good examination of the changes made to the movie.
A few ads open the DVD. We get clips for Haunted Echoes, Knife Edge and Four Boxes. The disc also provides the theatrical trailer for Highway.
While it boasts a pretty good script, Blood on the Highway suffers from a mix of filmmaking flaws that make it less successful than it could have been. The movie entertains but just can’t wholly overcome its budget-related problems. The DVD gives us mediocre visuals, decent audio and a few supplements. Highway has its moments, but it’s too inconsistent for my liking.