20 September 2014

Road Games (1981)
100 min.
Directed by Richard Franklin.
With Stacy Keach, Jamie Lee Curtis, Marion Edward, Bill Stacey, Grant Page, Thaddeus Smith, Steve Millichamp, Alan Hopgood, John Murphy, Robert Thompson.
From the director of Patrick (1978) comes this smart, edge-of-your-seat thriller.

On the nearly deserted highways of Australia's Outback, truckdriver Patrick Quid (Keach) makes a living by hauling various loads from here to there. He whiles away the time with his dog, and imagines fantasy backgrounds for the various drivers and hitchhikers he sees along the way.

After he spies van driver Smith/Jones (Page) burying something on the side of the road, Quid becomes convinced he's found the serial killer the police are frantically looking for!

When he picks up a stray hitchhiker called - appropriately enough - "Hitch" (Jamie Lee, excellent as usual), the two vow to discover the truth behind Smith/Jones and his demented crimes.

Are their suspicions valid? And if they're right, will Quid and Hitch live long enough to discover who this madman is, and what terrible treacheries he's committed?

Road Games is a stylish affair, clearly inspired by Alfred Hitchcock's original Rear Window (1954) as well as Steven Spielberg's TV horror Duel (1971).

There are some nice touches of humor, a few excellent suspense setups, and several exciting chase sequences.

There are some wonderful moments, including Quid and Hitch camping out overnight, with the killer watching nearby, visible only through the lightning.

There's also a very scary moment in which the truckdriver thinks the murderer is hiding among the meats in his truck.

Quid doesn't find him. But he does notice that there's one extra skinned animal hanging in the truck. Did he count wrong...or could it be one of the psycho's victims?

Excellent, all around.

Director Franklin's admiration for Hitchcock is obvious throughout. Interestingly, he'd go on to helm the suprisingly good PSYCHO II (1983).

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