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Road to Hell (Final) Review

March 9, 2015 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
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Road to Hell (Final) Review  

Road to Hell (Final) Review

Michael Pare– Tom Cody
Clare Kramer– Caitlin
Courtney Peldon– Ashley
Roxy Gunn– Ellen
Deborah Van Valkenberg– Sister
Joei Fulco– Archangel Gabriel
Chris Reject– DJ Dante

Directed by Albert Pyun
Screenplay by Cynthia Curran

Distributed by Curnan Motion Picture Services

Runtime– 87 minutes



Road to Hell, the fiftieth movie from legendary director Albert Pyun, is a strange bit of a cinema, and I mean that in a good way. It’s a sort of sequel/spin-off of Walter Hill’s 1984 effort Streets of Fire, and in the same sense it’s its own thing, a movie that’s sort of inspired by Streets of Fire. It’s a surreal head trip, a movie that isn’t straight forward and exists as a kind of weird fever dream. It clearly isn’t for everyone but, if you’re a movie nerd and you’re willing to take a chance with something decidedly different, Road to Hell is something you should look out for.

Now, this low budget effort, which apparently took Pyun roughly seven years to complete, hasn’t been officially released on DVD or Video On Demand just yet. It is in the midst of a series of special screenings at various movie theatres (it recently played at a theatre in Las Vegas, Nevada), and it has played (and won awards) at movie festivals around the country and, presumably, the world. Hopefully Pyun and his people are able to put together more screenings as I’m sure the movie, seen on the big screen, is a far more amazing experience than watching it on a small screen. The version that I saw was considered “Final,” so there’s a chance that if you have seen this movie at a film festival prior to right now it was a slightly different movie than the one I saw. I have no idea what those differences could be.

The movie stars the great Michael Pare as Tom Cody, the same character that he played in Streets of Fire. Cody is out in the desert, looking for a way to get to Edge City so he can track down his daughter, a somewhat famous rock star named Ellen. Getting from the desert to Edge City is a massive ordeal, though, as the desert in question doesn’t appear to be simply a desert. Instead, it’s some weird beard dimension where nothing seems all that real. But is it a dimension, another plane of existence, or is it some construct in Cody’s head? We know that Cody, a former black ops government assassin, has lost his zeal for killing. Is he stuck in a kind of personal purgatory where he’s trying to figure out what he really wants to do next with his life? Why does he really want to go to Edge City? And what the heck is he going to do if he gets to the city and meets his daughter?

As Cody is going through this he confronts two strange women in the desert, two female spree killers named Caitlin (Clare Kramer) and Ashley (Courtney Peldon). Who are they? Are they even real people? They could be, but at the same time they could be the physical embodiment of evil that Cody is meant to fight in order to figure out what it is he really wants to do with himself. The first time we see them Caitlin and Ashley are driving away from their latest killing spree. They argue with one another about what happened and what they want out of life, too. But are they real people? There’s a chance that they’re not, at least not in the usual sense.

Now, while all of that is going on, a radio DJ in Edge City named Dante (Chris Reject) is in the middle of promoting a big concert by Ellen and her band and digging into Ellen’s background. This leads to on camera interviews with Ellen and Cody’s sister played by Deborah Van Valkenburgh. And while all of that is going on, the archangel Gabriel (Joei Fulco) is sort of narrating the story, talking about trying to maybe save Cody from making the wrong decision. At least I think that’s what she’s doing in the movie. I’m not quite sure on that, at least at the moment.

As I said earlier, Road to Hell is a hard movie to completely comprehend. It isn’t for everyone. And I’m not sure that I completely understand it. I’m not even sure that the plot I just described above is the actual plot of the movie. There’s a real chance that I’m way off and that the real movie is something else entirely. But I do think that that is what makes the movie so dang interesting. Just what the heck is the movie really about? What is Cody going through? Trying to figure it out is part of its fun.

A good chunk of the movie appears to be made in front of a green screen with minimal physical sets and CGI backgrounds. It’s a set up that rarely seems to work in the low budget movie world simply because it never looks right. Road to Hell is an exception to that “rule.” Even if you have no idea what’s going on you will be mesmerized by the visuals on display. There isn’t a moment in the movie that looks bad. It’s also a fine example of what a surreal movie landscape should look and feel like. You will be mesmerized by the way it looks. You will also likely be mesmerized by the gore moments out in the desert. They come out of nowhere and actually enhance the surreal aspects of the story. Did I just see what I just saw?

The performances are all exceptional. Pare is awesome as Cody. He’s old and a bit more grizzled than the last time we saw him in Streets of Fire, but he’s still chock full of humanity and it shows in every scene he’s in. Cody is cynical because he doesn’t know what he really wants, or at least that’s what he appears to be experiencing, but you’re rooting for him because you want him to make the right decision. Pare needs some sort of action franchise of his own. He’s too good of an actor to not have one. Road to Hell isn’t an action movie, but it’s a fine example of what Pare can do in terms of carrying a movie. He’s weathered, he’s experienced, and he can be the badass the world needs. Someone needs to make that happen.

The spree killers, as played by Kramer and Peldon, are hypnotic as soon as you see them. You’re not quite sure how to take them but, at the same time, you can’t take your eyes off of them. They’re profane dialogue is bizarre at first, but you get used to it as the movie progresses. Just how evil are these people? Are they even people?

And then there’s Roxy Gunn as Ellen. Roxy Gunn is a goddamn revelation. She’s a kick-ass musician who can clearly rock a stage and pump up a crowd. Along with her band the Roxy Gunn Project, Gunn performs several songs from Streets of Fire and just owns the world. Gunn also has a tremendous screen presence that is pure charisma. The camera loves her and you will, too, as soon as you see her. I defy you to not pump your fist in the air during her performance of “Nowhere Fast.” It’s a song that will stick in your head for days afterward.

Road to Hell is a movie watching experience like few others. It’s kind of strange, kind of bizarre, and kind of weird, but it holds your attention because you want to figure out what it’s really about. It’s certainly not the continuation of Streets of Fire anyone had been anticipating. Streets of Fire didn’t set the box office on fire back in 1984 and the proposed series of movies starring Pare as Cody never happened. And now, around thirty years later, there’s a low budget sort of continuation of that world that Walter Hill put on screen. Who the hell thought that would ever happen? Who? I know I never thought it would happen.

Albert Pyun wanted it to happen and he made it happen. He should be commended for making Road to Hell an actual thing. It’s a strange movie, sure, but it’s still worth seeing. Just give it a chance.

See Road to Hell when it becomes available to you. See it, see it, see it.

So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: 2

Explosions: Maybe.

Nudity?: Yes. And it’s pretty decent.

Doobage: A helicopter, an awesome opening titles rock song, people getting shot in the desert, two blonde chicks in a jeep, still shots of dead bodies, a lesbian relationship, singing, heads on poles (?), plenty of dialogue, a wicked tan trench coat, a big ass blade, multiple beatings, some very nice thighs, car bondage, choking, tooth removal, leg biting (maybe), head butt, boobies, a massive punch to the face, an off screen knifing, a baby in a cooler, and a rocking concert.

Gratuitous: CGI desert, the Archangel Gabriel, a radio station called 66.6, spree killer lesbians, Michael Pare, a music video montage set to the song “Streets of Fire,” DJ Dante, profanity, a city that looks like Las Vegas, the Roxy Gunn Project, and a rocking concert.

Best lines: “That fucking shit felt good, didn’t it?,” “No more running, Cody,” “Can Cody be saved?,” “Oh, you motherfucker!,” “You are shit out of luck,” “This slut. She have a name?,” “Do I look like a fucking thief?,” “I don’t think that can be excused, even if she is a murdering bitch,” “Do I look dangerous?,” “Well, why don’t you scar me hard, big man?,” “You won’t like me? Why’s that? I have a peculiar taste,” “Spree killer. Is that a fucking problem?,” “You sick fucks deserve each other,” “Hey, baby wants to stick his cock in my mouth,” and “Well, Lucifer, it looks like you have a new demon in hell.”

The final score: review Amazing
The 411
Road to Hell is a strange bit of cinema, the kind of movie that will make you wonder what the heck it’s really all about. It’s a low budget surreal masterpiece that’s also a sort of sequel to Streets of Fire, a cult movie that’s thirty years old. Who the heck thought that a sequel/spin-off to Streets of Fire would ever happen? Road to Hell isn’t for everyone, but if you’re an adventurous sort you should definitely make an effort to see it when it comes out. Thank you, Albert Pyun, for making a movie that, had David Lynch made it, would be heralded as a true work of art by “the people who get to decide what art is.” Awesome stuff.