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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 19.23%
Average: 2.56%
Pretty Bad: 3.85%
Total Crap: 3.85%

2 reviews, 66 user ratings

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Hitcher, The (1986)
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by Scott Weinberg

"This movie could leave a big purple bruise on your brain."
5 stars

A stark, minimalistic, almost stream-of-consciousness horror movie. (I have already reached my pretentiousness quotient, just one sentence in.) The Hitcher will leave you scratching your head, numb as the rear end of a new fish in Shawshank. There are some scenes that are so intense and over-the-top, it almost becomes a parody of horror movies. Smartly directed with quick cuts and a pretty good screenplay, this is one nasty bitch of a movie.

C. Thomas Howell stars. WAIT! Trust me anyway. The plot is pretty threadbare, but it suits the feel of the movie just fine: Absolute moron Jim Halsey (Howell, apparently typecast) is driving across the desert late one night when he decides to pick up a (large, blond and male) hitch-hiker on the side of the road. At first things are amiable enough, but soon the hitcher, John Ryder (clever name, that) begins to seem a little...not right.

What follows is a kinetic 95-minute chase. Like a cat on steroids chasing a mouse on crack. When the inevitable murders occur, our protagonist is always in the absolute worst place in the universe he can be. Nobody, especially the cops, believes the hitch-hiker even exists, and soon Jim is a fugitive from the cops AND Ryder. Jennifer Jason Leigh shows up as a sympathetic waitress who of course gets naked. To be fair, her character adds a lot to the plot. Jim's increasingly desperate attempts to clear his name always fall short, and he is consistently met at every more corpses.

Several sequences stand out: The helicopter-crash. The french fries. The police station massacre. The two gigantic trucks and a rope scene. Jims' quickly spiraling situation is depicted in graphic and desperate detail. As we sympathize with his plight, we are secretly thrilled, since the stupid idiot picked up the loon in the first place! "Hey, even I know not to pick up a large, blond, male hitch-hiker!! Moron!"

The Hitcher is simply a fast-paced, bloody and awfully entertaining modern horror movie. It's well-made, as director Robert Mandel and scripter Eric Red keep the audience praying for the villain's demise, yet fascinated by what horrid atrocity he will commit next. Really great and fun, but in a dark and nasty way.

This is the flip-side of Martin Scorsese's After Hours (another awesome film). No matter what our brain-dead hero does, he just succeeds in sinking deeper. If Hitchcock weren't dead, he'd be making movies like this.

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originally posted: 11/22/99 18:21:09
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User Comments

6/16/16 JJL Fan Jennifer Jason Leigh never got naked, I wonder what movie you're thinking of? 5 stars
5/05/15 stanley welles an overcooked, unimaginative teen identification fantasy 2 stars
10/15/11 Dick Trombley Interesting thata folks either love it or hate it. Observe the ratio of love to hate. 5 stars
11/05/10 Josie Cotton is a goddess Classic chiller! Perfect movie to watch in october 4 stars
1/12/10 TravisN Slick, scary movie. Well worth a watch or two. 5 stars
12/08/09 Geeza A Classic - And Ebert's a Moron 5 stars
6/22/09 action movie fan scary story of young man pursued by psycho and wrongly thought to be the killer 4 stars
3/02/08 Pamela White sadistic movie for stupid people who pick up strangers 3 stars
9/15/07 Ted Bundy Influential movie, I feel I can relate to the Hitcher and his way of life 5 stars
6/20/07 Dk Really enjoyed this, though I doubt I'll think much of the remake now 4 stars
6/10/07 al smith amazing movie pure acting masterclass from hauer 5 stars
1/17/07 Jan Try as they might, a remake can only be a sorry imitation of this masterpiece! 5 stars
12/28/06 David Pollastrini Jennifer jason leigh is hot! 4 stars
12/10/06 William Goss Impressively taut thriller without a moment to breathe, let alone think about it too much. 4 stars
11/16/06 db0seven I include this remarkable film in my Rites of Passage class. 5 stars
11/05/06 MP Bartley Grisly and nastily entertaining - goes overboard at the climax though. 4 stars
12/20/05 Death-Threat Jennifer Jason Leigh never got naked.Great movie though.. 5 stars
11/11/05 saika great movie 5 stars
8/30/05 ES this is what thrillers are all about 5 stars
6/23/05 G-Unit......fidy cent this movie was good......i dont stop for them mofo's no more!! no wot i mean?!?!?!?!? 5 stars
6/14/05 Dr. Zoidberg Scared the living fuck out of me 5 stars
5/21/05 Jeff Anderson Repulsive, but undeniably exciting & gripping thriller. Howell & Hauer are aces & brilliant 5 stars
5/01/04 Adam Classic thriller, unlike the "Hitcher II" which is pure shit 5 stars
5/01/04 Jaycee Great horror & suspense from the minute Rutger Hauer gets into Howell's car. 3 stars
4/18/04 Daveman This is a well directed, brilliantly shot intense thriller, see it at least once! 4 stars
4/17/04 American Slasher Goddess One of the best "On the Road" thrillers ever. 5 stars
1/28/04 LIAM JACKSON don't pick up hitchers. they may just brutally torture and kill you for fun. 5 stars
1/20/04 Marion Great!!!!! 5 stars
1/04/04 maffat Well;me,I will seet it again and again.... 5 stars
1/01/04 Ian Lowndes I will NEVER pick up a hitch-hiker again! 4 stars
12/30/03 maffat I like The Hicher a lot! 5 stars
12/27/03 Y2mckay What he did to that girl at the truck stop was just FUCKED UP!!! 5 stars
11/04/03 maffat Te Hitcher?..... One of the best movies i ever saw!....Dense, terrific .....Beautiful. 5 stars
10/10/03 Alfie Just GREAT 5 stars
10/03/03 Marita Rutger Hauer is the villain. Need I more to say? 5 stars
10/02/03 Anita One of the best movies I've ever seen. 5 stars
8/28/03 Sugarfoot Had me on the edge of my seat. 4 stars
3/25/03 Jack Sommersby Blood-curdling suspense which unfortunately turns just too ludicrous in final third. 4 stars
3/05/03 Cat I have seen it ages ago, and each time I think of it, I feel sick coz I am still afraid ! 5 stars
2/23/03 Sugarfoot Very good... 4 stars
12/19/02 MooseMice Very entertaining. Effective performances by all. 5 stars
11/23/02 Charles Tatum Suspenseful but don't look too close 4 stars
11/22/02 Zargo THE road movie 5 stars
7/29/02 Megan C. Thomas Howell is a hottie!! it's a good movie too!! 5 stars
7/11/02 S.Mozzo ( Great movie loaded with suspense that is not half as gory as people remember it to be. 5 stars
6/07/02 Nuke "The Hitcher" is antensely creepy and chillling thriller. 4 stars
6/06/02 zotteLORRE hauer is one real sicko sob, love this dude 5 stars
2/07/02 clearmountain4 brilliant dark rites of passage fairy tale 5 stars
1/22/02 Jay A. An amazing movie, my absolute favorite. 5 stars
1/16/02 David A. A simpering rip-off of Duel, which is the greatest action film of all time. 2 stars
6/06/01 King Jackass freaky as hell, especially the french fries part 5 stars
5/24/01 Erik North If it weren't so violent and gory, this would be a DUEL-type masterpiece. 4 stars
3/01/01 The Cock sick BDSM motherfuckers 1 stars
3/01/01 Steve in Prague still freaks me out 5 stars
2/25/01 jeroen C.Thomas Howell should have stopped after this one!!! 5 stars
2/12/01 perverted pixie The road movie equivilant of Hamlet. 5 stars
12/29/00 Andy Olivera Incredible. One of the great films of the 80s. All feelings can't be described in this area 5 stars
1/22/00 Chrissy T Wanna know what happens when an eyeball gets punctured? Rutger is the man. 5 stars
1/13/00 Tim Gerchmez Piece of trash for emotionally retarded, sadomasochistic morons. 1 stars
12/31/99 Red SO da Can "The Hitcher" kicks ass! Hauer is terrifying and there are so many freaky scenes! 5 stars
11/23/99 The Velvet Edge Yeah, this is a good one. I'd still pick Rutger Hauer up, though. 5 stars
11/22/99 the Grinch This one's a keeper. I can definitely see the Hitchcock. See it! Don't let these films die 5 stars
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  02-Feb-1986 (R)



Directed by
  Robert Harmon

Written by
  Eric Red

  C. Thomas Howell
  Rutger Hauer
  Jennifer Jason Leigh
  Jeffrey DeMunn

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