Hitch-Hike (1977)
By: CJ on October 28, 2002  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Anchor Bay (USA). All Regions, NTSC. 1.85:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 2.0 Mono. 104 minutes
The Movie
Director: Pasquale Festa Campanile
Starring: Franco Nero, Corinne Clery and David Hess
Screenplay: Aldo Crudo, Pasquale Festa Campanile, Ottavio Jemma and Peter Kane
Music: Ennio Morricone
Country: Italy
AKA: Death Drive; Hitchhike: Last House on the Left; Autostop rosso sangue
Anchor Bay unleashes some more Italian sleaze and violence in the form of this outstanding DVD. This little-seen obscurity is an absolute gem, and you'll soon see why.

Journalist Walter Mancini (Franco Nero) and his wife Eve (Corinne Clery) are on vacation out in the wilds of America. It becomes evident very quickly that Walter is an obnoxious chap and treats his wife rather badly. He's also given to frequent drunkenness and often creating embarrassing scenes because of it. Director Pasquale Festa Campanile wastes no time in setting up the scenario of a marriage on the verge of a breakdown, and both Nero and Clery are very convincing in their roles. Nero makes his character highly unlikeable right from the outset of the movie, and Clery does a good job in portraying the suffering wife.

After an awkward night of drunkenness, in which Walter manages to injure his hand, they set off on the road again, with Eve at the wheel. After some bickering between the dysfunctional couple, they pass a hitcher stood by his broken-down car. Eve, on the spur of the moment, stops and offers him a ride. Walter is furious, telling her she's crazy and that they might be picking up a madman. How perceptive. After all, if you saw David Hess hitching a ride, would you pick him up? I think not, especially if you're familiar with Last House on the Left...

The hitcher introduces himself as Adam, and immediately we sense that something is not quite right here. Sure enough, Adam is a psychotic who has just been involved in a robbery and is making his getaway with the profits of his illegal deed. Once the realisation sinks in of who they've picked up, the real fun begins.

I won't go into too much plot detail here, as it twists and turns, and I really don't want to spoil the fun for first-time viewers. Suffice to say, there is more sleaze and violence than you can shake a stick at. Hess and Franco play off each other superbly, and it's a real shame they never made more films together, as they are a fantastic onscreen duo. Clery turns in a good performance, but is outshone by her male co-stars. Director Pasquale Festa Campanile (who sadly passed away in 1986) directs with lots of energy and the film never has a dull moment, right up to it's astonishing twist ending. This is Italian sleaze cinema at it's very best. Faultless performances (who doesn't love David Hess?), great locations, an enthralling story and a fine music score from Ennio Morricone. Top notch B-Movie entertainment and an un-missable treat for fans of Euroshock. I can't recommend this film enough.

So forget the Blockbuster antics of Roadkill/Joyride and pick this up instead!
Anchor Bay's transfer of this unearthed classic is astonishing. The picture is crystal clear with no visible defects on the print whatsoever. The colours are rich and deep with an image that is pin-sharp and full of well-defined detail. Quite possibly one of the best Anchor Bay discs I have seen to date. Faultless.
The disc carries an English Dolby Digital mono soundtrack, but has plenty of depth. The dialogue is crisp and clear, and Morricone's score is reproduced beautifully. No complaints in this department, it's not the kind of film that really demands a full 5.1 remix, it wouldn't create any impressive audio dynamics anyway. A 5.1 remix may have enhanced the music slightly, but in my opinion it sounds fine just the way it is presented here.
Extra Features
Not a great deal of extras on this disc, but something is better than nothing, as the saying goes. The featurette called The Devil Thumbs a Ride is well worth a look, and contains new interviews with the three central cast members, David Hess, Franco Nero and Corinne Clery. It's also quite amusing to see the verbal sparring between Nero and Hess. Also provided is an anamorphic trailer for the film. But that's it folks! However, at least Anchor Bay took the time to find these cast members and interview them for this presentation.
The Verdict
This is an astounding piece of work and is surprisingly little talked about. It has everything trash cinema fans could ask for - violence, sleaze, nudity and a shock ending. This is B-Movie heaven and you'll be denying yourself a treat if you don't take the time to get hold of this and have a watch. The disc is of top quality and even has a couple of worthwhile extras. It's also interesting to note that the French Canadian version of this film was re-edited to give it a happy ending and runs for a mere 82 mins.
Movie Score
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