LINKS TO THE PORT MANTEAU OF HORROR

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Hitch-Hiker (Kino Classics Blu-ray) - That Creepy Guy in the Back Seat With a Gun Looks Great in HD

I've always been partial to hitch-hiker horror. Perhaps I fell in love first with the mysterious, wandering strangers when I saw the Hitchhiker episode of the Twilight Zone as a kid where that crooner-ish voice kept repeating, "going my why"? Perfect subtle horror without pop or blood. Just pure suspense, and you know what? You never did find out what really happened to that nice young lady after she was followed all along the countryside by the big bad man with the Dean Martin voice, did you? Then of course there was Creepshow 2. That was a bloody mess of a story about a hitch-hiker. Something wholly delicious with buckets upon gallons upon dump trucks of guts and gore and mess. They blew the whole budget on that damn effect (or at least that's how it looked)... well that and the "oil slick".  Then there's The Hitcher. Well, I only saw that in the last couple of years, and was absolutely shocked at just how terrified I could become by Rutger Hauer. If you didn't see The Hitcher or Bladerunner and watched Hobo with a Shotgun or Dracula 3D you would still have the ability to be shocked by Hauer. I was. That damn Mac Truck, "rack" scene still gets me even just thinking about it. Then we've got the movie we've come here to talk about which I would consider an early forefather to the aforementioned gruesome flicks of new. Let's talk about the new Blu-ray release of The Hitch-hiker from Kino Classics.

The Hitch-hiker directed by Ida Lupino is not truly a tale of terror in the more familiar, modern sense. It is pure film noir and stems from the crime/suspense subgenre. I like to think of EC Comics during this same time period. There were books like Tales from the Crypt or Vault of Horror and then there was True Crime or Crime Suspense. All were terrifying and some were clearly more based in reality in than their counterparts. It contains no violence though plenty of suspense. You can guarantee an end of the seat ride through the dessert on a trip down to Mexico with an escaped convict who holds all the cards, the gun and the power. The Hitch-hiker precedes movies like Cape Fear but embodies some of the same topical elements that make that film successful though not necessarily the power score that would make Cape Fear a classic.

What might amaze you the most about a film that carries such a high mark of quality and esteem among Hollywood gurus is that this was an early independent release. It was also directed by a woman, Ida Lupino, an actress to boot, and a trailblazer in both the genre and in independent film. The cast is topped off by William Talman who provides the perfect composure, proper level of crazy and absolutely brilliant facial expression to play the titular character. Many of his efforts were in popular TV shows of the 60's such as the Virginian.

The disc itself comes from the Library of Congress collection. It is mastered in HD from archival 35mm elements. It's light on extras containing a rather impressive image gallery.  The movie itself looks stunning in its HD glory. This is a well preserved print, minimal scratching or DNR (or at least noticeable/poor quality DNR). 1:33:1 Aspect ratio. 1920 x1080p.

You can pick up The Hitch-hiker now from Kino. It's not horror, but it has some scary moments.

-Doc Terror

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