A bickering couple driving cross-country pick up a murderous hitchhiker whom threatens to kill them unless they take him to a santuary, and in return agrees to split some bank loot he has on him.
|Original Title||:||Autostop rosso sangue|
|Release Date||:||April 30, 1977|
|Genres||:||Crime, Drama, Thriller|
|Production Company||:||Explorer Film '58, Medusa Distribuzione|
|Director||:||Pasquale Festa Campanile|
|Writers||:||Peter Crane, Aldo Crudo|
|Casts||:||Franco Nero, Corinne Cléry, David Hess, Joshua Sinclair, Carlo Puri, Ignazio Spalla, Leonardo Scavino, Mónica Zanchi, Benito Pacifico, Angelo Ragusa, Fausto Di Bella, Luigi Birri, Robert Sommer, Ann Ferguson|
|Plot Keywords||:||female nudity, california, rape, sex, based on novel, hostage, nudity, psychopath, hostage-taking, murder, suspense, independent film, blood, grindhouse, hitchhiker, violence, road movie|
Pasquale Festa Campanile's Hitch-Hike (1977) is not a movie that will be familiar to many viewers in the UK. It is an Italian-produced piece of drive-in drivel featuring European megastar Franco Nero as a drunken, bitter journalist touring the US with his gorgeous young wife Corinne Clery (best known to British audiences for her role in Moonraker); a dysfunctional couple at best, the flaws in their relationship are well and truly exposed when they pick up a stranded motorist who unfortunately turns out to be a psychopathic bank robber on the lam (played by mop-topped David Hess, reprising his patented 'complete scumbag' routine familiar from Wes Craven's highly unpleasant 1972 D-movie dog turd The Last House on the Left)... At best a film of two halves, Hitch-Hike is quite accomplished technically (an action scene in which Hess guns down two dopey cops is shot with Peckinpah-like style, whilst the several stunt sequences involving speeding vehicles are also pretty decent), and largely well-acted (Nero is particularly good), but the film is nevertheless undone by the mostly unimaginative script (the dialogue, of which there is a lot, is inane in the extreme, never more so than when Hess tries to persuade Nero to write a book about him, treating him to several deeply uninteresting anecdotes from his childhood, whilst the early scene in a campsite must be one of the worst-written, and most ineptly post-synched, pieces of film I've ever seen), the seedy emphasis on threats of impending sexual assault against the shapely Clery, and the many dumbly illogical things it requires the characters to do to drive the plot forward. Look at the scene in which Nero first realises Hess is a nutcase and gets the drop on him; after stunning him with a blow to the face and dragging him out of the back seat, common sense would dictate that Nero immediately get back into the car and tell his wife to floor it before the criminal recovers, but instead, Nero saunters down into a roadside ditch and stupidly continues whaling on Hess, with the result that the maniac is able to pull a pistol on the couple and take them hostage. Whilst the lusty emphasis on the female star's (often nude) body might well be typical of an exploitation movie of this vintage (and her style of 'trim' certainly is), it doesn't stop it from being distasteful. Clery's character very quickly becomes aware that their captor is a leering pervert who is going to defile her the first chance he gets, yet she never tries to take his mind off her shapely form by putting a few more clothes on, and instead continues wearing the same very provocative split-skirt-and-unbuttoned-blouse combo throughout the film, even after his first (failed) attempt at raping her. This angle leads to the disturbing scene in which Hess finally succeeds in having his way with Clery, whilst the hog-tied Nero watches in horror, which is incredibly crass as it portrays the wife as actually enjoying the act (a conceit in itself that might account for the flick's obscurity, as it would generally result in any film getting an instant red card from censors). The last quarter of Hitch-Hike admittedly drags it out of the ordinary (and out of the gutter), as it skilfully sketches the Nero character's final moral collapse, and ends the film on a considerable (and logical) downer. Also Ennio Morricone's incidental music, whilst a far cry from his best work, is nonetheless much more accomplished than this film deserves (I wish the same could be said of the atrocious happy-clappy campfire ditty repeated again and again at inappropriate points during the running time; I challenge you not to have it stuck in your head for hours after the film ends). However, overall this is sleazy, cheesy, cheap viewing, and not a film I would recommend.