Based upon an incident that happened in California in the early 1950s. A man named Billy Cook murdered a family of five, including three children, and then killed a traveling salesman. He then kidnapped two hunters and took them across the border into Mexico, intending to kill them, too, but before he could he was captured by Mexican police and subsequently extradited to the US, where he was tried for the murders, convicted, and died in the gas chamber at San Quentin on Dec. 12, 1952.
In an interview, Talman recalled an incident that happened shortly after the release of The Hitch-Hiker (1953), in which he gave a chilling portrayal of escaped murderer and serial killer Emmett Meyers. He was driving his convertible in Los Angeles with the top down, and he stopped at a red light. Another driver in a convertible who was stopped next to him stared at him for a few seconds, then said, "You're the hitchhiker, right?" Talman nodded, indicating that he was. The other driver got out of his car, went over to Talman's car and slapped him across the face, then got back in his car and drove off. In recalling the story, Talman said, "You know, I never won an Academy Award but I guess that was about as close as I ever will come to one."
The failure of the original copyright holder to renew the film's copyright resulted in it falling into public domain, meaning that virtually anyone could duplicate and sell a VHS/DVD copy of the film. Therefore, many of the versions of this film available on the market are either severely (and usually badly) edited and/or of extremely poor quality, having been duped from second- or third-generation (or more) copies of the film.