A married couple are traveling on a deserted desert road at night. They stop at a diner and the husband goes to the men's room. He never returns and the wife begins to suspect serious foul ...
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A married couple are traveling on a deserted desert road at night. They stop at a diner and the husband goes to the men's room. He never returns and the wife begins to suspect serious foul play.Written by
Sean Taylor <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Matheson and Leachman rock it old school in this way-above-average TV classic
Is Richard Matheson awesome or what? Who else could conceive of something so simple and sinister as a woman's husband disappearing in a men's room at a broken down café in the desert? The same guy who conceived of a monster truck stalking a beleaguered motorist to great effect in "Duel," and that's only a slight sample of the other legendary tales he's penned. His skill at deriving something so evil out of the ordinary is very comparable to Stephen King at his '70s peak with "Night Shift" and "Dying Room Only" is indicative of that prowess --- it still makes an impact on people I show it to today.
The great news is that this film is now widely available as part of the Warner Archives collection, remastered in widescreen, and though there's nothing but the film on the disc, it's a bargain at about $10.
The locals, played by Ross Martin and Ned Beatty are creepy and cruel, the motel night clerk is surly and obtuse. It's really all on Ms. Leachman to figure it out, and Chloris does a really fine job here: she transmits her urgency and controlled panic without making herself into a blithering, hysterical wreck. She's a strong heroine. Dabney Coleman is almost unrecognizable as her husband, here, he's so very young looking.
I've heard many comparisons to "Breakdown" but this film is really only similar in plot structure. Breakdown was an adrenaline fueled roller coaster ride that was definitely one of the better road thrillers ever produced. DRO is more a psychological head-game and a mystery, more suited to rainy evenings at home than crowded nights at the multiplex. Pick it up, before they remake and ruin it.
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