Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Hitch Hike to Hell (1977)

You can almost feel the makers of Hitch Hike to Hell trying to reach for a measure of narrative and thematic legitimacy as they tell the lurid story of a disturbed young man who rapes and kills hitchhikers. Going relatively light on bloodshed and nudity, director Irv Berwick and his collaborators lean more heavily on scenes showing Howard Martin (Robert Gribbin) struggling with social awkwardness between episodes of homicidal rage. After all, Howard blacks out each time he encounters a hitchhiker, so the idea is that he’s nearly as much of a victim as the people he kills. Had Berwick and his collaborators approached this material with more sensitivity and skill, they might have realized the character-study potential of the piece. Alas, the acting, direction, and writing are all as weak as the production values, so instead of seeming like a serious picture with a few extreme elements, Hitch Hike to Hell seems like an extreme picture with a few serious elements—in other words, a trash epic without the courage of its convictions. Some details are interesting. The filmmakers convey a sense of workplace dynamics with scenes of Howard at the drycleaner’s shop for which he drives a delivery van. Similarly, bits of an exhausted local cop trying to convince horrible parents to keep their kids safe from a roving predator almost touch on provocative social issues. But it’s all for naught with the deluge of dumb dialogue and grody murder scenes. And whenever a film’s greatest point of interest is the presence of a Gilligan’s Island cast member, that’s a problem. Russell Johnson, known to millions of TV fans as “The Professor,” intermittently remembers to add pathos to his role as the cop. This is not a highlight of his filmography.

Hitch Hike to Hell: LAME

No comments: