Catching Up: “The Hitcher (1986)”

There’s a difficult part about watching a film from years and years past, there’s no doubt been a remake of it. If not, there unfortunately will be one soon enough. If you’ve stumbled on one before the other, the experience might not be all that great, as you pretty much already know what’s coming. And people still think remakes are good ideas.

The TriStar Pictures film “The Hitcher”, is one long film about stupid people making stupid mistakes and how no one learns from the previous bad choice.

This horror thriller stars Rutger Hauer (“The Scorpion King 4: Quest for Power”, “Galavant”), C.Thomas Howell (“Woodlawn”, “Sleepy Hollow (TV series)”), Jeffrey DeMunn (“The Blacklist”, “The Affair”), Billy Green Bush (“Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday”, “Renegade”), John Jackson (“Stalker”, “Rizzoli & Isles”), Henry Darrow (“Soda Spring”, “Primo”), Jon Van Ness (“Visible Scars”, “Supernatural”), and Jennifer Jason Leigh (upcoming films “The Hateful Eight”, “Anomalisa”).

The film was directed by Robert Harmon (“Jesse Stone: Lost in Paradise”, “Blue Bloods”) and written by Eric Red (“100 Feet”, “Bad Moon”).

The film originally opened on Feb. 21, 1986.

They say honesty is the best policy, which I agree with automatically with regards to anything. So, why am I bringing this up? Because with this particular post and this particular movie, I honestly can’t tell you if I’ve seen it once, or twice, or god forbid, three times. I seriously doubt it was more than twice, but still, this is a problem. How am I supposed to look at it? Even though I feel like I know this film, none of it, when I was watching it, stood out to me. Even the inclusion of Leigh was something that I didn’t know. Some of the scenes and situations looked familiar, but that’s because of the unnecessary remake that came out eight years ago. The sequel to this film didn’t help a lot either, even though I did enjoy it more than this film. That’s another story. For now, I’ve got this one to tackle and hopefully it won’t be too painful.

Let’s see, everything’s wrapped up in stupidity. I mean everything. Well, okay, everything worth obsessing over in this movie. In the end, this movie is basically a cautionary tale, one that Howell clearly didn’t believe after his mother told him as much. On that, his character is clearly an idiot. I should feel something for him, but I don’t. And then, of course, things only get worse from there. You know, because one bad choice wasn’t enough.

The first bad idea was picking up Hauer. But, which is great, Howell gets smart and takes an opportunity presented to him, to get rid of Hauer. You’d think things would be looking up and he’d probably think that going to the authorities would be the next logical step here. Nope. He involves himself too much and then it becomes an obnoxious game of cat and mouse with Hauer and the police, and he manages to drag Leigh along too. None of the situations he finds himself in are all that interesting, exciting or thrilling. I seriously think I groaned out loud or sighed or rolled my eyes more than with any film before. It was that tedious to sit through, that I actually started to get tired and wanted to sleep. I guess I can imagine how this film might’ve been a bit unnerving at one point, but now, especially after the sequel and remake, not so much.

The one slight upside, which is what makes me like him in the few roles I’ve seen, is Hauer. He really is the perfect psycho killer. I think it’s more his look than anything. It’s always menacing. After Howell sees Hauer in the car with the family and he’s playing with a stuffed animal, it almost looks cute and friendly, but, of course, there’s a big level of creepiness to it and not just because we know he’s a killer and will probably kill the family. If it weren’t for Hauer and this look he just has, I don’t think I’d have enjoyed this film one bit. While I did root for Howell a lot, as you’re supposed to, there was a lot that was just interesting in the way Hauer went about terrorizing Howell. Of course, with that, comes the question of how did Hauer always find Howell? There were several times it seemed Hauer shouldn’t have ever been able to track Howell down, but he did. I guess if you don’t think about it too much you’ll be fine.

Some original films are great. Others, not so much, but they can appreciated for what they may have given a genre, generation of filmgoers, or films in general. This one, however, I’m not so sure what its lasting impression is. It came out in the mid ‘80s, so it more fits in with the big slasher genre that made up so many horror films at that time. I guess I can just file it away as another film I’ve seen as I don’t plan on revisiting it any time soon.


One thought on “Catching Up: “The Hitcher (1986)”

  1. Pingback: 10 Years: “The Hitcher (2007)” | Past, Present, Future in TV and Film

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