Friday 24 August 2012

Richard Driscoll's Highway to Hell: hand me some lemon

Back in February, Richard Driscoll self-released his all-star 3D horror musical western (in 2D) Eldorado. Just a few months later, the DVD was deleted and the film became unavailable. Now you can buy it again, retitled Highway to Hell - but it's not the same film.

Whether I will ever have the patience to run down the differences in detail remains to be seen but the most obvious one is the running time. The original DVD claimed to run 158 minutes but actually ran 118m (the version seen by the BBFC was only 114m 39s - the discrepancy might be the advert for Scream magazine). This version's sleeve says 92 minutes and that's correct (not including the Scream ad).

The basic incoherent plot is still there, so what's been cut? Well, David Carradine for one. His stock footage is nowhere to be seen. Most of Daryl Hannah's stuff has gone as well: she just turns up once at the end to read the Poe poem.

And a lot of the music has been cut. Steve Guttenberg's song is gone, for example, and Brigitte Nielsen's incomprehensible scene has disappeared, meaning that she has, like the late Mr Carradine, disappeared from the credits entirely.

But what's truly extraordinary is that some of the songs, presumably in an effort to avoid copyright hassles, have been re-recorded - with different lyrics! The artists on screen weren't singing anyway (with the possible exception of Buster Bloodvessel), just miming to recordings by Cornish club singers. Which have been replaced by different recordings, with lyrics similar to the original. So Robert Lewellyn and his biker gang, instead of singing "Everybody needs somebody", now sing "If your body needs a body". To the same tune.

And if you recall that clip in the trailer of Jeff Fahey's reggae number where he sings "His Majesty Haile Selassie!" Well, that's no longer a reggae song and, to match Fahey's lip movements, the line is now "It's magic, see? Hand me some lemon!"

Interestingly, Highway to Hell does not have a separate BBFC certification so technically this release is illegal (notwithstanding whether Driscoll even owns the rights to the film, which is in some doubt). So buy it while you can, folks.

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