Welcome to Laughing Vixen Lounge. All of our Fear Friday films in May will be a fearful look into a favorite summer tradition, the Road Trip! This week's movie, while perhaps a little on the cheesy side, it one of the best examples of how wrong road travel can go. Like mom always said "Don't pick up hitchhikers." And as we know, mother is always right. Enjoy!
Every Friday at the Laughing Vixen Lounge Blog is Fear Friday. Fear Fridays are a celebration of all films spooky. Horror is a very broad genre and the Lounge loves it all. Each Friday you will find a review of a different film. These can range from Classic Horror (black and white and cheesy), Thrillers (suspense, jumps and a good mystery), outright Horror (chop chop, slash slash, die die) and anything else in between.
So pop some popcorn, kill the lights and enjoy tonight's selection. And please, share your comments on the film. Bad or good let me know what you thought of it. And now, my little ghouls and dolls, the Laughing Vixen Lounge Blog is proud to present this week's film.
Fear Friday - The Hitcher
Tagline - The terror starts the moment he stops.
Never Pick Up A Stranger.
He came from hell. Don't ask him where he wants to go.
Out on the desert highway, the rule of thumb has a different
Directed by Robert Harmon (They) and released in February 21, 1986 by TriStar Pictures (rated R). A young man, Jim Halsey (C. Thomas Howell), is delivering a car from Chicago to San Diego. Unable to keep his eyes open, he decides to pick up a hitch hiker, John Ryder (Rutger Hauer), standing on the side of the road so he can have someone to talk to. As the passenger door opens Jim utters the infamous line "My mother always told me not to do this". We the viewer know that mom was right but Jim has to learn the hard way.
I used to love Tommy Howell. Then I grew up and realized a cute boy does not a good actor make! That aside, this movie is still creepy and fun.
OK... this movie has lots of flaws. Mr. Howell really is not the greatest actor and it does show in this movie. Also, it's quite amazing how the hitcher can always be hiding right where Jim is about to show up. Maybe his character is psychic and they forgot to tell us. It's probably laying on the editing room floor.
The silliness aside, there really are some great scary and creepy elements here. It plays on all of those terrible "what could happen" of traveling, especially on your own. Driving in out of the way places, stopping at gas station and rest areas and crossing paths with lots of strangers. Usually harmless things but we all know the horrible things that do happen to people sometimes and that's what feeds the fear here.
What takes that fear and kicks it into high gear is Mr. Hauer himself. This is the first movie I really noticed Rutger Hauer in and it took a good decade to be able to separate him from this character. He is truly scary as the villain here and it shows just how talented of an actor he can be. And the scene with Nash at the truck stop is just classic horror film making. Maybe you don't get to see as much as nowadays but it's horrible all the same.
There was a remake in 2007 with a switch of roles having our main character Jim now a woman and her boyfriend replacing Nash. While I am not usually a fan of the gender change I do like having a woman be the strong survivor in this one. Sean Bean does a very good job as the Hitcher but as most remakes go, the blood and gore factor is definitely doubled!!!
Take a look at the original trailer.
Some trivia about the movie.
1.The writer of the screenplay, Eric Red, has said the story was inspired by the Doors song "Riders on the Storm".
2. In Rutger Hauer's book "All Those Moments," Hauer discusses how producer Ed Feldman settled on Sam Elliott for the role of John Ryder. Hauer states that "Apparently, Elliott was so scary when he came in to audition that Edward S. Feldman was afraid to go out to his car afterward." Sam Elliott had a scheduling conflict and had to back out the role.
3. Rutger Hauer knocked out one of his teeth with the shotgun he was holding during the windshield scene.
4. C. Thomas Howell admitted that he was actually afraid of Rutger Hauer on and off the set because of the actor's general intensity.
5. Screenwriter Eric Red can be seen in a cameo role toward the end of the film, playing a sheriff's deputy escorting John Ryder to the prison bus for transfer.
6. Rutger Hauer did a lot of the stunt driving throughout the movie which amazed the film crew and even the real stunt drivers.
7. The coach stops at "Roy's Motel and Diner" which is a famous landmark on the old Route 66, now interstate 40. It can be found at Amboy, California in the Mojave desert. It is featured in many films and documentaries.
8. On the jail wall you can read "Mort aux matons!" (probably written by a previous prisoner), translated to "Death to the jail guards!" in French.
9. In early drafts of the script, John Ryder had been described as skeletal in nature and so actors like David Bowie, Sting, Sam Shepard, Harry Dean Stanton, and Terence Stamp were mentioned.
10. For the role of Jim Halsey, the producers mentioned Matthew Modine, Tom Cruise and Emilio Estevez.
11. The original script ran the film equivalent of three hours.
12. Fox was to have distributed the film before TriStar Pictures took over.
13. Moments that ended up not being filmed include: Ryder slaughtering an entire family, an eyeball appearing in a hamburger (this was replaced in a finger in a plate of French fries), a graphic sex scene between 'Gal' Galveston (the girl before Nash) and Jim, and a character being decapitated. The film underwent several rewrites which removed the gorier moments.
14. To avoid an X rating the ending was changed to give Jim justification to doing what he does.
15. While being arrested outside the diner, C. Thomas Howell accidentally kicks one of the deputies in the back of the head while being slammed on the hood of the police car.
16. When Jim enters the abandoned garage, birds fly in front of the camera for dramatic effect. Though the hole in the floor seems to be intentional, the person visible pushing the birds out from said hole was probably not.