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E1 ENTERTAINMENT

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Barak Epstein, Blair Rowan
Cast:
Deva George, Nate Rubin, Robin Gierhart, Tony Medlin, Laura Stone, Chris Gardner, Nicholas Brendon, Tom Towles
Writing Credits:
Chris Gardner, Blair Rowan

Tagline:
There's a sucker born every minute!

Synopsis:
On their way to a rock concert, Carrie, her boyfriend Sam, and Bone, her thug ex-boyfriend, get lost and wind up in Fate, Texas – a town populated by bloodthirsty, dimwitted vampires.

MPAA:
Rated R

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Dolby Surround 2.0
Subtitles:
English
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English

Runtime: 87 minutes
Price: $24.98
Release Date: 6/29/2010

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Co-Directors Blair Rowan and 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
• “12 Days in Fate” Documentary
• “Consumart Employee Orientation Video”
• Visual FX Reel
• Trailer


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Blood On The Highway (2008)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 17, 2010)

Throw a stick and you’ll hit a vampire movie/TV show these days. We get another entry in the genre via 2010’s Blood on the Highway. Nerdy Sam (Nate Rubin), his hot but bitchy girlfriend Carrie (Robin Gierhart) and Sam’s tough pal Bone (Deva George) head toward a big music festival.

Along the way, they get lost, and they end up in a small town called Fate. When they stop in to get gas and ask for directions, the clerk attacks Sam. This is no ordinary assault, of course, as the cashier is a vampire who bites Sam. This starts him on a path toward blood-sucking status and finds the others in need of refuge. They end up with other still-human survivors Byron (Tony Medlin), Lynette (Laura Stone) and Roy (Chris Gardner).

In many ways, Highway feels like an early Kevin Smith take on vampires, and not just because of its high level of profanity. (This film may use the word “cunt” more than any in the history of cinema.) Highway reminds me a lot of Clerks-era Smith because it boasts a script that’s much superior to everything else on display.

That claim probably praises the text of Highway a bit too much, as it’s not in the same league as Clerks. However, it is pretty clever and funny. The movie pokes good fun at the vampire genre and its conventions. While inconsistent, it still produces decent laughs; it certainly fares better than Mel Brooks’ Dracula Dead and Loving It.

Ironically, Highway and Dead come with exactly opposite strengths and weaknesses. The Brooks flick had a decent cast, good production values and fine talent behind the camera; it simply came with an awful script.

On the other hand, Highway provides a witty screenplay but suffers in almost every other area. Not that I really fault those behind Highway; the film probably cost about $12 to make, and you get what you pay for.

In this case, the lack of money means generally weak production values, an ugly visual look, and lackluster performances. The acting varies all over the place. Some of the participants pull off credible work, while others look like the director pulled them off the street five minutes before shooting started. The wild variance in talent tends to drag down all the performances in one of those “weakest link” deals.

Granted, a broad spoof like Highway can survive bad acting better than something such as Clerks. The latter was meant to be a slick of life, while the former is a wacky, over the top parody. One could argue it intends to look cheap as a way of mocking crummy horror movies.

However, I think it looks cheap mostly because no one had money. The whole thing suffers from a generally amateurish feel that tends to sap its strengths. With iffy camerawork, haphazard editing, and basically low production values, the movie doesn’t work as well as it could.

But you do what you can with the money you have, I suppose. Despite its flaws, I think Highway turns into a reasonably entertaining film. I just believe it could’ve been better, as its script boasts potential the movie fails to realize.


The DVD Grades: Picture C-/ Audio B-/ Bonus C+

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.

Viewer Film Ratings: 5 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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