Human Highway is a bizarre cult film from Neil Young and DEVO

When I heard about Bob Casale’s death this week, I started researching the history of the band DEVO. I’ve always been a fan – even met them once – but I was never a SUPER fan, so some of the stuff I uncovered surprised me. I never realized how popular they were in countries like Australia, for example.

But nothing surprised me more than Human Highway.

Human Highway is the “movie” directed by (and starring) musical great Neil Young, and features songs and a score (Mark Mothersbaugh’s first) from DEVO. And whatever Young was having… well, I wouldn’t mind a serving as well.

Whew, boy, Human Highway is a weird weird movie. It’s a musical… kinda. And a love story… kinda. And it ends with (spoiler) the start of World War Three as the cast climb a literal stairway to heaven.

Human Highway isn’t very good, but it has a surreal style all it’s own. A style that looks awfully familiar.

As I watched it, I had to wonder… Did David Lynch see this?

The movie features Russ Tamblyn, Dean Stockwell, and Dennis Hopper. Many of the scenes are set in a dinner. The film has a decidedly “Lynchian” tone.

And it came out four years before Blue Velvet did.

Not saying that Lynch ripped off Neil Young, here… but I can envision Lynch watching the film and going, “Man, Dennis Hopper and Dean Stockwell are awesome, I need to put them in something! And Russ Tamblyn, too!” And some other elements in the film could have seeped into his unconsciousness, coming forth in later work such as Twin Peaks.

(Charlotte Stewart, who was in Peaks, is also in Human Highway… though Lynch had worked with her before).

So, if you’re a Neal Young fan, Lynch nut, or a Devolutionist… seek out a copy of Human Highway. It’s out of print, but if you look hard enough on the Internet you can find it.

Here’s the trailer: