The Film (4/5)
Hitch-hike is a riff on the typical picking up the psychotic stranger by the side of the road genre exemplified in films like The Hitcher (1985) and Hitch-hiker (1953). However, the difference between the prior 2 films and this one is that this one is done in the style of 80's Italian exploitation films where full on graphic content was the name of the game. Hitch-Hike also has a cast that knows how to push the material to its extreme we have Franco Nero (Django) alongside David Hess (The Last House on the Left), and Connie Clery (Moonraker). The three of these actors create an interesting and tense dynamic for the film.
The film stars Nero and Clery as Walter and Eve, a bickering and frustrated married couple on a road trip. As the film begins the frustration in their relationship is given physical form by a very uncharismatic sex scene between the pair. Soon after the two pick up hitchhiker, Adam (David Hess) who is a complete psychopath. He no sooner gets settled in the car, then pulls a gun on the pair and forces them to take him to Mexico. Of course, it's not as easy as getting their as Adam has recently committed a robbery that's netted him 2 million dollars and his partners that he betrayed are hunting him down for the cash.
Hitch-hike is a relentless and suspenseful affair, well directed by Pasquale Festa Campanile. The movie starts off with a few minor character introductions, touching on their motivations, but once Adam gets in the car all bets are off, and the film goes wild with it's concept. The film was made off the back of the success of the prior years The Hitcher, but it feels more heavily influenced by films like Spielberg's Duel and most notably Mario Bava's Last House on wheels film, Rabid Dogs.
Of course, the performances are across the board excellent. Hess was typecast as a psycho from the first screening of Last House on the Left on, but he plays those parts so well and with such intensity that he's absolutely brilliant to watch anytime he's on screen in any such role, and that applies to this film. Nero displays a certain restrained intensity throughout the picture. Nero should be considered the nice guy protagonist of the picture, but comes out with a deep reserve of anger and darkness almost from the beginning. Of course, Connie Clery plays a great film noir-esque foil for the two. Unsatisfied with her marriage, and looking for something new she sees Adam as a way to escape the doldrums she's in. Clery plays the dual dynamic of damsel in distress, and a woman who will do whatever to get her way quite well. Between the direction and performances there is an excellent film here, but there is also an superb score by newly minted Oscar winner Ennio Morricone that adds to the suspense and overall atmosphere of the piece.
So Raro Video has released another Blu-ray edition of an Italian exploitation classic. At times it feels like flipping a coin with this label. Will it be good Raro or bad Raro? Well I'm happy to report the 1:78:1 1080p AVC encoded transfer leans to more to the good then the bad. Colors in the film look good for the most part, flesh tones are accurate, and black levels are quite solid. Detail is good throughout the presentation, and there is a decent organic grain structure at play here. The downside is that there are trickles of DNR that present throughout, though nothing like a Meet Him and Die, and overall the presentation looks quite solid.
Raro has given viewers 2 audio options on the Hitch-Hike Blu-ray. They are both DTS-HD mono, one in Italian and one in English, both are quite solid with dialogue and score coming through nicely.
The Raro Blu-ray of Hitch-hike comes with a single extra a 27 minute featuette called Road to Ruin featuring interviews with the primary cast and the AD on the film. There are also liner notes by Kino Lorber's Bret Wood contained within an insert.
Hitch-hike an absolute blast of Italian exploitation goodness. If you haven't seen this, and aren't squeamish this is one to check out. The Blu-ray looks and sounds quite good, though the extras are limited. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.