The Hitcher (1986)

R  |   |  Thriller  |  21 February 1986 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.3/10 from 32,604 users  
Reviews: 234 user | 84 critic

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.



0Check in
3 wins. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

The Hitcher (2007)
Action | Crime | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  

A serial killer pins his crimes on two college students who gave him a ride.

Director: Dave Meyers
Stars: Sean Bean, Sophia Bush, Zachary Knighton
Horror | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.3/10 X  

A sadistic serial killer terrorizes a couple driving on a rural highway in Texas while killing numerous people and framing them for his killings.

Director: Louis Morneau
Stars: Jake Busey, Kari Wuhrer, C. Thomas Howell
Near Dark (1987)
Drama | Horror | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A small-town farmer's son reluctantly joins a traveling group of vampires after he is turned by a beautiful drifter.

Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Stars: Adrian Pasdar, Jenny Wright, Lance Henriksen
Wedlock (1991)
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  

A male prison escapee heads for his hidden loot electronically attached to a female prisoner.

Director: Lewis Teague
Stars: Rutger Hauer, Mimi Rogers, Joan Chen
Blind Fury (1989)
Action | Comedy | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

A blind Vietnam vet, trained as a swordfighter, comes to America and helps to rescue the son of a fellow soldier.

Director: Phillip Noyce
Stars: Rutger Hauer, Terry O'Quinn, Brandon Call
Flesh+Blood (1985)
Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A band of medieval mercenaries take revenge on a noble lord who decides not to pay them by kidnapping the betrothed of the noble's son. As the plague and warfare cut a swathe of destruction... See full summary »

Director: Paul Verhoeven
Stars: Rutger Hauer, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tom Burlinson
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

This movie features a character who is a descendant of the character played by Steve McQueen in the television series of the same name. And like McQueen's Josh Randall, Hauer's Nick Randall... See full summary »

Director: Gary Sherman
Stars: Rutger Hauer, Gene Simmons, Robert Guillaume
Fright Night (1985)
Comedy | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

When a teenager learns that his next door neighbour is a vampire, no one will believe him.

Director: Tom Holland
Stars: Chris Sarandon, William Ragsdale, Amanda Bearse
Ladyhawke (1985)
Adventure | Drama | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Philipe Gastone, a thief, escapes from the dungeon at Aquila, sparking a manhunt. He is nearly captured when Captain Navarre befriends him. Navarre has been hunted by the Bishop's men for ... See full summary »

Director: Richard Donner
Stars: Matthew Broderick, Rutger Hauer, Michelle Pfeiffer
Creepshow (1982)
Comedy | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Inspired by the E.C. comics of the 1950s, George A.Romero and Stephen King bring five tales of terror to the screen.

Director: George A. Romero
Stars: Hal Holbrook, Leslie Nielsen, Adrienne Barbeau
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A sorority house is terrorized by a stranger who makes frightening phone calls and then murders the sorority sisters during Christmas break.

Director: Bob Clark
Stars: Olivia Hussey, Keir Dullea, Margot Kidder
The Fog (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Legend says that Antonio Bay was built in 1880 with blood money obtained from shipwrecked lepers but no one believes it. On the eve of the town's centennial many plan to attend the celebrations, including the murdered lepers.

Director: John Carpenter
Stars: Adrienne Barbeau, Jamie Lee Curtis, Janet Leigh


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


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 <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


He came from hell. Don't ask him where he wants to go. See more »




R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

21 February 1986 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Liftaren  »

Box Office


$6,000,000 (estimated)


$5,844,868 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(4 channels)



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


At one point, Eric Red wanted John Ryder to have an electronic voicebox. See more »


After 2 Ford LTD Sheriff cars are destroyed, 3 State units join the pursuit. At first, all 3 state units are Chrysler M-Bodies cars. However when the chopper is destroyed, the first State unit which flips becomes a Ford. See more »


Trooper Hancock: You spit on my wrist.
Jim Halsey: What?
Trooper Hancock: I said you spit on my wrist. Wipe it off.
See more »


Performed by Mickey Jones
Published by Mickey Jones Music (ASCAP)
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

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 are only left to guess 'The Hitcher' is meant to be the mad truck driver's brother. ****

6 of 7 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
thanks for nothing. bonerthebarbarian
Why he is doing all that to him? ivanchocron
Did anyone else prefer the remake? BlackLabInLove
Why is this a classic? I don't get it MrsStarbuck
Drive through Texas? chevelless67
What if the remake... DonutMassacre64
Discuss The Hitcher (1986) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page