DirectorBruce McDonald Initial DVD releaseJanuary 30, 2007 Duration
Release dateSeptember 7, 1991 (1991-09-07) (Canada)
April 24, 1992 (1992-04-24) (USA) WriterAllan Magee, Bruce McDonald, Don McKellar Initial releaseSeptember 7, 1991 (Canada) CastDon McKellar (Pokey Jones), Valerie Buhagiar (Jackie Bangs), Earl Pastko (Mr. Skin), Peter Breck (Mr. Watson), Jello Biafra (Customs Agent #1), Tav Falco (Motorcycle Gang Leader) Similar moviesThe Blues Brothers, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, Killing Zoe, Leaves of Grass, You, the Living, Sweet and Lowdown
TaglineWhere Else Would You Go To Bury Rock N' Roll?
Pokey Jones (Don McKellar), a Canadian barber who plays jazz on the side, has his life turned upside down when a corpse turns up near his home. Jackie (Valerie Buhagier), a roadie, says that the dead man is her sibling and begs Pokey to help get the body back to New Orleans. Pokey agrees, completely unaware that Valeries real plan is to transport drugs across the border. They are followed by the satanic Mr. Skin (Earl Pastko), who claims ownership of the body and the soul contained therein.
Highway 61 is a 1991 film by Canadian director Bruce McDonald. The film is an unofficial sequel to his 1989 film Roadkill; although focusing on different characters, it centres on a road trip beginning in Thunder Bay, Ontario, where the road trip depicted in the earlier film ended.
A naive Canadian barber who knows US popular culture inside and out meets a flamboyant roadie who needs someone to drive her and her "brother's" corpse from Thunder Bay, Ontario to New Orleans. Chaos ensues after the barber agrees to drive her, the corpse, and the drugs stashed within all the way. Don McKellar and Valerie Buhagiar team up as a barber and a smuggler running a corpse on the roof of a '63 Ford Galaxy 500 on a one-car funeral procession stretching from Northern Ontario to New Orleans on the only continuous highway between Canada an the U.S. What unfolds is a white trash odyssey filled with strange roadside distractions played eagerly by the likes of Peter Breck, Jello Biafra and Art Bergmann. If you've seen the bookends of this trilogy, Hard Core Logo and Roadkill, then you know that in any Bruce McDonald film, the asphalt has a speaking part.
The film stars Don McKellar as Pokey Jones, an orphaned barber in a small town near Thunder Bay, who dreams of becoming a jazz musician. One morning, Jones discovers a frozen corpse (Steve Fall) in his backyard, and soon meets Jackie Bangs (Valerie Buhagiar), a tough and mysterious roadie who claims the dead man is her brother.
Jackies real intention is to use the body, a vagrant unknown to anyone in town, to smuggle stolen drugs into the United States. She convinces Pokey to use his parents car, which hasnt been driven in decades, to drive her to New Orleans to bury her brother. So Jackie and Pokey set out along Highway 61, coffin strapped to the top of the car, and follow Bob Dylans famous U.S. Highway 61 south through the heart of the United States. Theyre pursued by Mr. Skin (Earl Pastko), who believes hes Satan and wants to claim the body because the dead man sold Mr. Skin his soul.
Peter Breck is fourth-billed as Mr. Watson, the "stage-mom" father of three girls: Mississippi (Missy), Minnesota (Minnie), and Louisiana (Louise). The film also includes cameo appearances by Tav Falco, Jello Biafra, and Art Bergmann.
The films soundtrack album includes songs by Bourbon Tabernacle Choir, Rita Chiarelli, Nash the Slash, Acid Test, Jellyfishbabies, and Tom Jones. Nash the Slash also composed the films instrumental score.
In 2001, Playback named Highway 61 the 15th best Canadian film since 1986. McDonald won "Best Director" honours at both San Sebastian International Film Festival and Brussels International Festival of Fantasy Film, two of the top festivals in the world.