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Hitcher, The (1986, Rutger Hauer, C Thomas Howell)



While delivering a vehicle from Chicago to California, young Jim Halsey (C Thomas Howell) picks up hitch-hiker John Ryder (Rutger Hauer). Uh-oh. A sadistic psycho on a motiveless murder spree, Ryder challenges Jim to stop him, thereby kick-starting an increasingly violent game of cat and mouse down dusty Texan highways. Jim finds an ally in waitress Nash (Jennifer Jason Leigh), but the police are convinced that Jim’s the maniac and set off in hot pursuit. As Ryder continues to kill, maim and torture at will, the wholesome teen must leave his innocence burnt and bloodied by the roadside as he tries to clear his name and defeat his seemingly indestructible nemesis.

Described by The Face as ‘a dark and monstrous film with a black hole where its heart should be’, it’s an ultra-violent cross between Duel and Halloween that could have been financed by the coach and rail industries, so effective is it in scaring Samaritan-minded motorists. Debut director Robert Harmon builds excitement out of the carnage, and ”as the lean and vicious narrative hurtles recklessly to its bloody climax,” wrote NME , ‘there’s nothing to do but grip the arm of your seat and hope your heart holds out’.

production details
USA | 97 minutes | 1986

Director: Robert Harmon
Script: Eric Red,

C. Thomas Howell as Jim Halsey
Rutger Hauer as John Ryder
Jennifer Jason Leigh as Nash
Jeffrey DeMunn as Captain Esteridge
John M. Jackson as Sergeant Starr
Billy Green Bush as Trooper Donner
Jack Thibeau as Trooper Prestone
Armin Shimerman as Interrogation Sergeant
Gene Davis as Trooper Dodge
Jon Van Ness as Trooper Hapscomb
Henry Darrow as Trooper Hancock
Tony Epper as Trooper Conners
Tom Spratley as Proprietor
Colin Campbell as Construction Man