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Road Games (1981) Revisited Review

This Movie Review is the Brain Child of so many different personalities!!!

If I could choose, it would be anything bur murder.

If I could choose, it would be anything bur murder.

MPAA Rating

PG

Running Time

101 minutes

Director

Richard Franklin

Writer

Everett De Roche

I hadn’t seen the Aussie horror/thriller (but with Americans in lead roles?) in about 67 years because I have this deathly fear of being hacked to death and my corpse being violated because out of all the times I decided to hitchhike, this is the one time I get the murderer. His vehicle seemed so benign and non-murderous at the time. What were the odds? I’m sure every hitchhiker who’s ever been murdered has had that thought pass through his or her mind right before they’re bludgeoned to death and become another story on the 6 o’clock news. Some regions have 5 o’clock news so you can see gruesome footage right before you start dinner. Yum.

It’s just not a good look.

But on Black Friday I got the special edition Blu-Ray of Road Games in the mail. It had no return address but in the envelope contained what looked like a dried up ear and left index finger sealed up and laminated in a plastic covering.

It was MY ear and left index finger from that one time back in the 80s when I hitchhiked and the person that picked me up cut my ear off like in Reservoir Dogs and cut off my index finger like in Finger Licking Bad.

Now you know the story. And now you know why I’m deathly afraid of hitchhiking. The person who cut my ear and index finger off is still out there, probably cutting off body parts of other unfortunate hitchhikers.

But at least he had the decency to send me a Blu-Ray of Road Games, but because that totally makes up for it.

What? I can’t hear you because someone cut my ear off that one time I hitchhiked—

Okay. But I’m also bad at using chopsticks.

Synopsis

Road Games opens in Australia with our hero Pat Quid (Stacy “Racy” Keach) pulling into a rest station for truck drivers after a long haul. He just wants a shower, a meal and some rest with his dingo Boswell (young Bradley Cooper)-

I mean, he just wants to shower, and not necessarily WITH Boswell.

He’s had a long couple of days and he really needs some rest. Just as he’s about to check into the hotel, Pat gets a call from dispatch. There’s some meat that really needs to be transported to Perth.

Backstory- More than once in this movie we learn about a huge meat strike that’s taking place in and around Australia. Writer/director Richard Franklin and co-writer Everett De Roche really have a thing for Australian meat politics.

Anyway, Pat wants rest and food. But dispatch says they’ll double his rate if he makes this meat delivery. Pat reluctantly agrees.

Pat was going to sleep in the hotel, but it looks like some guy in a blue/green van with a beautiful young woman just bought his room. Guess Pat’s just going to sleep in the back of his cab with Boswell.

The dog wishes it was driving.

The dog wishes it was driving.

In the 80s, guys in vans didn’t read as sketchy or homicidal because everybody during that era was keen to ride in someone’s van. This did not work out for our young hitchhiker girl because as she’s playing the guitar naked in the room Van Guy rented before Pat, she’s strangled with some chicken wire. That’ll teach her to get into a van, no matter how good the candy is.

Later that morning, Pat is woken up by the sound of garbage trucks emptying all the bins. Pat notices the guy who was in the blue/green van closely watching what the garbage guys are doing. Pat wonders why anybody would be that interested in what the trash guys are doing at 5 in the morning.

Yes.

Pat goes off to deliver the meat and it just so happens the radio says stuff about missing hitchhikers and random body parts found in places all around the great down under.

Could this random piece of information have anything to do with what Pat saw earlier this morning? Um, yes.

Even though regulations prevent Pat from picking up hitchhikers, Pat manages to pick up two of them, presumably because Boswell is not that chatty today.

He picks up Frita (Marion Edward) and manages to creep her out, almost making it look like he would throw her off a cliff. If you spent time with her, you’d understand why.

Pat also picks up Hitch (Jamie Lee Curtis), which is short for, you guessed it, Hitchell. Hitch is an American reluctant to give any details about herself. She walked away from home and you can glean her family is pretty powerful in some circles.

He has no idea what he's doing.

He has no idea what he's doing.

After a meet-cute and hours of riding together, Pat and Hitch are getting along just fine. They are aware of someone possibly picking up and killing hitchhikers. They are not aware that the blue/green van has been right in front of them or following them for the past couple of days.

It’s not long before Hitch is missing. We hope a Jamie Lee Curtis female character is alive by the end of the movie. There’s a term for that but I can’t seem to remember it right now.

It’s also not long before the authorities suspect Pat may be behind the hitchhiker killings. Delivering the meat on time is the least of Pat’s problems.

He still has no idea what he's doing.

He still has no idea what he's doing.

What Works With Road Games

  • A scene set in Pat’s meat trailer is claustrophobic and deserves its comparisons to Hitchcock. Even if you think you know what’s coming, you’re always kept off balance and the audience release point is never where you expect it.
  • The second and third acts are rife with tension even though there’s not a lot of action. Some of the things you see are a little beyond plausibility, but you don’t think about it as you’re watching. It’s only after the credits roll that you realize some of the flaws.
  • The final shot of the movie, though predictable, is a perfect exclamation point to everything you’ve just seen.

What Doesn’t Work With Road Games

  • Jamie Lee Curtis doesn’t really do anything with her very limited screen time. It’s not her fault her character is pointless and half-dimensional. You wonder why she took this role so early in her career. You guess it was for the free trip to Australia.
road-games-1981-revisited-review

Overall

Road Games is just as exciting as you remember, so if it’s been awhile you’d do well to watch it again. If you’ve never seen it before, it’s just another excellent reminder you should never hitchhike unless you just want to get murdered.

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Buy Road Games Here!