Road Games (1981)

Truck (or Lorry as we Brits call them) Drivers, seem to get a bad rap these days. Snotty little kids pull faces at you through their parents car windows, teenagers flash you or give you the kind of two fingered salutes that would get you a beating if they did that to you face to face, and generally the world assumes that you are some sort of perverted, pill popping, speed freak, roaming the roads in your behemoth of an automotive, looking for hitchers to pick up, take advantage of and then dispose of .. Nope? Just me then.

Quid (played by the always excellent Stacey Keach) is the Yankee driver of a truck in Australia, but ‘that doesn’t make him a truck driver’ as he reminds us at regular intervals throughout the film. He has a regular travelling companion in the form of his best pal and dingo Boswell, and together they get along just fine, until they cross paths with a green van driver who they believe to be the serial killer that has been chopping up hitchhikers here, there and everywhere along the route for quite some time. To make matters worse, the killer is dropping anvil shaped hints to anyone that’s interested that old Quid is the culprit. Bad times indeed!

Very Rear Window meets Duel, with some excellent scripting and characterisation, making Road Games an all time favourite. Suspenseful, and creepy which is a definite achievement considering most of the film features our male lead quoting literature, and passing judgement on fellow road users with his pet dingo, who sadly isn’t as talkative as his owner. A very young Jamie Lee Curtis plays the straight talking young ‘Hitch’ who gets mixed up in the killers game of cat and mouse.

I can see why it wouldn’t be to everyone’s tastes. There’s no gore, no violence, sex or clichés abound, and the fact that it’s style resembles a televised play with its peppering of short cameos held together by one man and his dog. Director Richard Franklin (who helmed the sequel to Psycho) is obviously a fan of Hitchcock, as there are subtle and not so subtle homage’s to the late, great Alfred littered throughout. That’s no bad thing, though, as this is one of the most suspenseful horror thrillers I have seen in a very long time. Slow and steady wins the race apparently( I’d like to point out that this doesn’t apply if you are participating in any sort of sport and you are me though.), and I’d be handing this quiet little runner a gold medal over any of the speedy little slash and splash flicks of recent years.

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