Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Hitcher (1986)

Ahhhh, I forgot how much I love this movie!  Rutger Hauer is seriously one of the all-time greatest creepers.  And sadly, C. Thomas Howell's performance got a little overshadowed by the controversy/joke that was 1986's "Soul Man."

The premise here is simple.  Jim Halsey is driving cross country in a car that he needs to return to someone in California.  He's getting super-tired and decides to pick up a hitchhiker.  Bad idea, of course, but if it wasn't for stupid decisions, we wouldn't have this movie.  The hitcher, John Ryder, immediately goes psycho-killer on Jim and attempts some eyeball-fu.  But he is unsuccessful, as Jim boots him out of the car. 

Unfortunately for Jim, this little charade is just beginning.  Ryder follows Jim cross-country and enjoys toying with him at various stops along the way.  Jim meets Nash (Jennifer Jason Leigh) while trying to contact police, and the two band together against Ryder. 

This movie is great for the exact reason why so many movies today are so contrived and lame.  There's very little blood and gore in this movie.  There's no topless co-eds or idiots running through the woods tripping over branches with the killer in hot pursuit.  The Hitcher is just deeply and truly creepy.  John Ryder really gets under your skin and the plot is able to invoke that choking feeling of being trapped in a wide open space.

Sure, the picture and sound are a little crappy (I don't think this is next in line for Blu Ray conversion) but there's a scary vibe, some great police chases, and some pretty decent acting.  It's also interesting to see how times have changed, because when this movie was first released, it was slated to have a "X" rating.  It's sure a hell of a lot scarier than another incarnation of that stupid Saw puppet.  Check it out.

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