A young man who escaped the clutches of a murderous hitch-hiker is subsequently stalked, framed for the hitcher's crimes, and has his life made into hell by the same man he escaped.

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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Sergeant Starr (as John Jackson)
...
Trooper Donner (as Billy Greenbush)
Jack Thibeau ...
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...
Trooper Dodge (as Eugene Davis)
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Tony Epper ...
Tom Spratley ...
Colin Campbell ...
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Storyline

A young man transporting a car to another state is stalked along the road by a cunning and relentless serial killer who eventually frames the driver for a string of murders. Chased by police and shadowed by the killer, the driver's only help comes from a truck stop waitress. Written by Keith Loh <loh@sfu.ca>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The terror starts the moment he stops. See more »

Genres:

Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

21 February 1986 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Liftaren  »

Box Office

Budget:

$6,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$5,844,868 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(4 channels)

Color:

(Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

For the role of Jim Halsey, the producers mentioned Matthew Modine, Tom Cruise and Emilio Estevez. See more »

Goofs

When the cops are loading John (Rutger Hauer) into the prison bus it appears to be either early in the morning or late at night based on the position of the sun and the low light in the sky. At the same time C. Thomas Howell and the Captain are driving away and the sky is very bright and sunny. This is interspersed with scenes of John inside the prison bus where you can see the sky is dimly lit. When C. Thomas Howell catches the prison bus it is very bright again. After the dramatic conclusion we see a silhouette of C. Thomas Howell at what appears to be dusk. It was all over the place. See more »

Quotes

[John wants Jim to say, "I want to die"]
Jim Halsey: I don't know if I can say that.
John Ryder: Sure you can. Repeat after me. I...
Jim Halsey: I...
John Ryder: Want... want...
Jim Halsey: Want...
John Ryder: To...
Jim Halsey: To...
John Ryder: Die... Die.
Jim Halsey: I don't want to die!
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Connections

Referenced in Frat House Massacre (2008) See more »

Soundtracks

DON'T STOP LOVIN' ME
Performed by Mickey Jones
Published by Mickey Jones Music (ASCAP)
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Deserves to hold it's place as a cult classic
10 October 2007 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

STAR RATING: ***** Saturday Night **** Friday Night *** Friday Morning ** Sunday Night * Monday Morning

Jim Halsey (C Thomas Howell) is a young man driving his car down a freeway one night who suddenly decides to stop for a man who is hitching a ride. That man is John Ryder (Rutger Hauer.) From the off-set, he doesn't make himself out to be a nice guy and he doesn't let up from there- threatening to kill Jim for no reason and making him sweat for his life. Jim manages to get rid of his twisted assailant- only to be thrown headlong into a maze of murderous mayhem as 'The Hitcher' goes on a killing spree (involving a lot of cops) with Jim getting taken as the scape-goat.

The film opens with a masterful bolt of suspense- in a thunderous rain-shower, The Hitcher holds out his thumb as a crack of thunder erupts over-head, setting the scene for the suspenseful, scary ride that's about to follow.

Hauer lives and breathes the role. In a career that sadly (because I really like the guy) declined into an endless sludge of direct to video hell shortly afterwards, this is quite possibly the role he'll best be remembered for (after all, he was only the co-star in Blade Runner.) Ryder is a cold, mean psycho whose only motivation seems to be to cause as much terror as he can. In his opening scene, he masterfully transforms very quickly from a bit of an arsehole into a threatening madman, as he explains to his charge why the last guy who gave him a ride won't get out to call for help. No clear explanation is ever discovered as to why he does what he does, the closest we get to this being a chat across a table in a diner, in which he offers "you're a smart boy...figure it out."

In the main supporting role Howell also shines (though nowhere near as much as Hauer), as the beleaguered, petrified young man whose endurance and sanity is pushed to breaking point. In an early role, Jennifer Jason Leigh makes a bit of an impression as the cafe owner's daughter love interest.

Spielberg's Duel first dealt with a man being hounded on an American highway for no reason...you are only left to guess 'The Hitcher' is meant to be the mad truck driver's brother. ****


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