Anyone familiar with exploitation has to have ventured into 70s and early 80s cinema. Content pushed the boundaries of what they could get away with on-screen and sex was often used as a weapon, mainly at the expense of women. For example, I Spit On Your Grave spends a considerable amount of its running time forcing the audience to watch a woman get gang-raped by a bunch of hillbillies. One can argue that it’s a feminist film due to the fact that she gets her gruesome revenge in the third act, but it feels pale in comparison to everything else that happened to her. A more recent example of this type of cinema is Revenge, which kept the rape off-screen but excelled in focusing the lead’s evolution as a survivor who fights back. However, we still have movies like HITCH HIKE TO HELL in America’s filmography.
I’m not too familiar with how common hitchhikers are currently, or ever were, but movies from past decades lead me to believe this was common before my days as I personally have never seen one myself. In the world of HITCH HIKE TO HELL, there’s plenty of them to be picked up, especially young pretty ones. Harry is our lead and drives a dry cleaning van that takes him on the road constantly. He has a sister that disappeared, living what seemed to be a careless life, as her story happened before the film starts. It’s clear immediately that he’s a momma’s boy and they both carry resentment towards the missing sister. Harry picks up female hitchhikers and ends up raping them right before killing them. His mind seems to go elsewhere during the act and it seems that he might be taking out his anger from his sister towards these women. Obviously, things start getting clumsy as the cops notice missing girls and Howard gets more and more careless with his hobby.
HITCH HIKE TO HELL is not what I would consider being one of the extreme exploitation films or even a camp classic, it’s just kind of there. It has an interesting premise but leaves you with nothing as it feels extremely offbeat for a movie with constant rape. It has a cheesy quality to it but doesn’t hit the spots for the trash fans.
Arrow Video has provided some supplements that help give this movie a reason to be purchased. Author Stephen Thrower once again finds himself filming an appreciation for another Arrow release, but he’s actually interesting to listen to and the guy knows his stuff. Back to the hitchhiking culture, there’s a video essay here that delves into the dark side both in reality and on film. Some great movies out there are dying for a high definition release, but somehow HITCH HIKE TO HELL gets a brand new 2K restoration from the original film elements. I suppose it’s worth it for fans of cheap exploitation as the price isn’t anything crazy, but there are some missed opportunities here to be a cult classic. HITCH HIKE TO HELL is now available on Blu-ray from Arrow Video.
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