• Hitch-Hike



    Released by: Raro Video
    Released on: February 16th, 2016.
    Director: Pasquale Festa Campanile
    Cast: Franco Nero, Corinne Cléry, David Hess
    Year: 1977
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    The Movie:

    Pasquale Festa Campanile directs Hitch-Hike, the 1977 thriller where Django goes up against Krug! The movie takes place in the desert of the American west where Walter Mancini (Franco Nero) and his stone cold fox of a wife, Eve (Corinne Cléry), are hauling a camper behind their rental car on a road trip to California. Walter, a writer by trade, likes his booze in a big way and while she sticks by him for some reason, it’s clear that they’re not in love. After Walter shoots a deer, he roughs Eve up and has some pretty rough sex with her (it starts out as basically a rape but in grand exploitation movie style, she soon comes around to his way of thinking – politically correct this movie is not!).

    That night at a campsite, Walter acts up again and, wasted, falls down and whacks his head. The next morning, Eva has to handle the driving but this doesn’t stop him from continuing his abusive behavior. Eventually she gets fed up with him, enough so that she stops to pick up a hitch-hiker named Adam Konitz (David Hess) who they find at the side of the road, supposedly with some car trouble. Well, it turns out that Konitz is not your average stranded motorist, he is in fact an escaped patient from a nearby asylum that houses the deadliest of criminals! He and two cohorts robbed a bank and he’s run off with the money, now intending to use Walter and Eve as his ticket to freedom, a new life in Mexico!

    But once he’s done with them, they know he’ll kill them. From here it’s a battle of wits with Walter and Eve trying to do what they can to ensure their survival and Konitz really just using them. But the cops are out there looking for Adam, and so are his former partners in crime…

    Gleefully sleazy, Hitch-Hike is a rough film that really lets Hess and Nero go for broke. Those accustomed to seeing Nero playing the good could be a bit taken aback by what an absolute bastard he is in this picture, while Hess does what Hess does best, and that’s play the creepy, lecherous maniac to the hilt. This leaves the unfortunate but beautiful Corinne Cléry in the middle, trying to balance things as best she’s able while finding herself the subject of nearly constant abuse from first one and then the other. All three of the principal cast members play their roles really well – you won’t soon forget the characters in this film.

    While the plot shares some similarities to Mario Bava’s Rabid Dogs and works in elements from The Hitch-Hiker and Duel, Campanile puts his own spin on the ‘tourists in peril’ motif that’s not so uncommon in horror pictures. The fact that all of this is set to a pretty quirky but entirely appropriate score from Ennio Morricone helps things here too, the music giving the on-screen action its own bizarre tone. The Italian locations do a surprisingly good job of doubling for the American west. Eagle-eyed viewers might spot some telltale signs here and there but for the most part you never feel like this is not where there the movie says it is. Fast paced and gripping, Hitch-Hike is a horror/exploitation thriller done right. With a script that has more going on under the surface than it might at first seem and some absolutely killer performances, this is one well worth revisiting (or seeing for the first time!).

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Hitch-Hike arrives on Blu-ray from Raro Video framed at 1.78.1 widescreen in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer (taken from the original 35mm negative according to the packaging) that looks much better than a lot of their recent offerings of older Italian films. There might be some light DNR here but it’s nothing compared to what we’ve seen from the label in the past. Colors look very good here, if just slightly hot, while print damage is minimal. Detail and texture are pretty strong, especially in close up shots, and there are no noticeable problems with compression artifacts.

    Audio options are provided in Italian and English language DTS-HD Mono tracks with optional subtitles provided in English only. Both tracks sound fine, offering decent range and depth and properly balanced levels. Morricone’s score has a bit more power behind it here than it did on the Anchor Bay DVD release from years back.

    The only extra on the disc itself, aside from menus and chapter selection, is a twenty-seven minute featurette called Road To Ruin. Here we get some interviews with cast members Franco Nero, Corinne Cléry and David Hess and assistant director Neri Parenti. This is well put together piece that covers what it was like working with director Pasquale Festa Campanile, how Hess and Nero came onboard to star in the film, the locations and how they were shot and quite a bit more. The disc comes packaged with an insert booklet containing some liner notes by Brett Wood that offer a nice history of the picture and some cast and crew info tucked away inside the case. The case itself fits nicely inside a cardboard slipcover.

    The Final Word:

    Hitch-Hike is a scrappy, scuzzy thriller made all the more interesting by some insane performances by both Nero and Hess! It’s well paced, quite tense and it remains an entertaining and pretty enthralling watch. Raro’s Blu-ray release is a pretty solid one, giving the film a good transfer, fine lossless audio and an interesting featurette.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!