Wednesday, 28 September 2011

The Hitcher

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Year:1986
Country of origin:USA
Director:Robert Harmon
Genre:Hitch-hiking horror
Starring:C. Thomas Howell, Rutger Hauer, Jennifer Jason Leigh
Rating:5/5
IMDB link:http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0091209/
Tagline:The terror starts the moment he stops.
Favourite line:"You wanna know what happens to an eyeball when it gets punctured? Do you got any idea how much blood jets out of a guy's neck when his throat's been slit?"

A movie that I have wanted to see for a long time, I finally got round to it. And I was worried.
When you've built something up in your mind for quite a while, usually the end product disappoints.
But worry I need not; this is a belter.
Howell plays Jim Halsey, a regular sort who is delivering a car to somebody in San Diego to earn a bit of cash. As he is driving one night, the heavens open, and JIm spots a hitchhiker. Being the charitable sort, he stops to pick him up.
Big mistake.
The hitcher of the title is John Ryder, played with suitable menace and malice by that most famous star of straight to video movies, Rutger Hauer.
And he's in fine form here.
From the opening exchanges where he explains what happened to the last person who picked him up ("I cut off his legs... and his arms... and his head. And I'm going to do the same to you.") through his maniacal stalking of the unfortunate Halsey, culminating in his almost demonic sense of single-minded purpose - he can't really explain why he is doing what he is doing, he just knows that he wants to.
There are clear shades of The Terminator throughout (the desperate, terrified innocents on the run from both the law and a seemingly unstoppable killing force, and even a scene in a motel that is very reminiscent of a similar moment in the James Cameron feature) but here, perhaps, the menace is even more frightening; he's just a man, not a cyborg from the future, so the threat is all the more plausible.
Tense, claustrophobic, and damned frightening, this is a masterclass in fear inducing movie-making.
Very, very good.

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