Greetings ghouls, let’s take a terrifying detour together down October’s last mile with an underseen gem perfect for spooky road trips. Unleash your inner Rutger Hauer and revisit the 1986 cult thriller The Hitcher, a stripped-down battle of cat and mouse across sun-scorched desert highways.
Like Duel before it, The Hitcher wrings endless suspense from the simplest premise – a cross country drive turns nightmarish after Jim picks up demented hitchhiker John Ryder, who proceeds to frame him for a string of murders. What follows is a bleak, vicious game of survival as Ryder repeatedly murders those who aid Jim.
With its savage, intimate road duel between haunted hero and stoic psychopath, The Hitcher attains a grim poetry reminiscent of High Plains Drifter. Director Robert Harmon’s neo-Western framing of their eternal struggle across barren routes enhances the apocalyptic atmosphere. It’s man vs. remorseless terminator on wheels.
And Hauer’s extraordinarily sinister performance as the seemingly supernatural Ryder propelled the film into legendary status. Behind those chilling eyes lurks inscrutable malevolence. Few villains exude his raw menace with so little dialogue. He’s evil incarnate, delivering kills in iconic moments like his sly “dropped the knife” fakeout.
For stripped-down yet sun-drenched scares as October wanes, revisit The Hitcher, a taut thriller boiling with tension across the blacktop. Hauer’s transcendent terror ensures this spare, propulsive cult film remains under your skin long after its haunting finale. Just never pick up roadside strangers wielding knives without at least getting an ID. You’ve been warned!