Thursday, February 19, 2015

Weekly schlock and awe movie time!

Jim Halsey is on a road trip to California in a rental car. Along the way through the barren southwest, he stops to help a lonely hitchhiker. Enter John Ryder (a gods awful name) a quiet and imposing guy. It seems something is up with this dude and sadly Jim finds out quickly that John Ryder is a psycho that loves some killin’. What ensues is a relentless game of cat and mouse that involves cars, cops, guns, trucks, blood, death, a wrong way to drive a stick shift and great steak fry gag.
This is a film I saw at a wildly inappropriate age for a violent chase/slasher/thriller. It is one of those films that sticks with you, but I haven’t watched it since I first saw it. It couldn’t be any worse than the drek I have suffered through lately. Will The Hitcher live up to my broken kid memories?

And now you know why picking up strangers is bad.
Actually, it surpassed them. I really dug this movie and wish I had watched it sooner. It was a crazy good time!
This movie is violent, but not hyper violent. There is a lot of blood, but the majority is shown after the killing. You really don’t see a lot of the death in progress, just the after effects. That was a great touch and executed well. Not seeing the dirty deed can be as disturbing or more than seeing it occur. I thought it upped the thriller/suspense angle.
This is not really Hithcock level of suspense, but it has a very similar feel. Jim is of course charged with all these highway deaths that leads to the whole falsely accused man on the run while trying to prove his innocence bit. Then throw in the fact that the villain shows up whenever you don’t expect him, which gives a the whole nowhere is safe routine. Mix both these together with the wide open environment and various chase scenes and it all makes for a descent amount of suspense and thrills.
Speaking of chases there are a few and the vehicle destruction is just fantastic! I look to the Road Warrior and Blues Brothers for great vehicle destruction scenes. The Hitcher is right up there in the realm of great automobile carnage and destruction. Who doesn’t love great 80’s action like that?
Just look at poonum. 
Then we have Rutger Hauer as John Ryder, the big bad. I think on a regular day he looks like a mean bastard and here he is that and worse. He plays a great psycho. He does the whole quite intimidation and glaring really well. He has that slow even paced speech that makes his crazy talk even crazier. There is no real motivation for his killing spree which makes it all the creepier. He kills at random and gives no quarter to his prey.
Well until he runs afoul of C. Thomas Howell, Jim Halsey. Who I guess he sees has some sort of inner potential. Does John want Jim to kill him? Is Jim finally a worthy nemesis? Does he want Jim to become like him? Does he like the cut of his jib? Who knows. It is completely ambiguous and that is great. It leaves a bit of the story up to the viewer for interpretation. That or it was just shoddy writing and I am giving too much credit.
I have a greater appreciation of this movie now. Sure it isn’t perfect, but damn it, it’s fun 80’s movie and dare I say now classic! Plus, I have never looked at steak fires the same since I saw this the first time.

Rando thought!
John Ryder and the Joker (from the Dark Knight) would be great in a road movie. Imagine all the monkey business that would occur. In a fan fiction interweb world I wonder if that has happened?

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