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The Hitcher (1986)

A young man who escapes the clutches of a murderous hitch-hiker is subsequently stalked by the hitcher and framed for his crimes.


Robert Harmon


Eric Red
4,527 ( 250)

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3 wins. See more awards »


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Complete credited cast:
Rutger Hauer ... John Ryder
C. Thomas Howell ... Jim Halsey
Jennifer Jason Leigh ... Nash
Jeffrey DeMunn ... Captain Esteridge
John M. Jackson ... Sergeant Starr (as John Jackson)
Billy Green Bush ... Trooper Donner (as Billy Greenbush)
Jack Thibeau Jack Thibeau ... Trooper Prestone
Armin Shimerman ... Interrogation Sergeant
Gene Davis ... Trooper Dodge (as Eugene Davis)
Jon Van Ness ... Trooper Hapscomb
Henry Darrow ... Trooper Hancock
Tony Epper Tony Epper ... Trooper Conners
Tom Spratley Tom Spratley ... Proprietor
Colin Campbell Colin Campbell ... Construction Man


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


Never Pick Up A Stranger. See more »




R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »





English | French

Release Date:

21 February 1986 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Liftaren See more »


Box Office


$6,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$2,134,214, 23 February 1986, Wide Release

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo (4 channels)


Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Eric Red, (writer), said that the film was inspired by The Doors song, "Riders on the Storm". See more »


When two police cars try to shoot out tires, not only can you see the ram holes in the bottom of the cars, just after that you can see a car battery and large air-tank fly out of a trunk. The air-tank is the power for the ram that flips the car. And that cars battery should have been in the front, not the trunk. See more »


John Ryder: How do you like "Shitsville"?
See more »


References Deliverance (1972) See more »


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

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Ultimative thril-ride one of the best road psycho thrillers ever my personal number 1 favorite
16 August 2018 | by rambofan4lifeSee all my reviews

The ultimate thrill-ride of one of the best road psycho action thrillers ever, my personal favorite number 1 thriller ever. The Hitcher (1986) is the ultimate action classic, the best road psycho thriller ever. I love this movie to death I love it. I love road thriller movies like: Joy Ride (2001), Road Games (1981), Duel (1971), Jeepers Creepers (2001), When Strangers Appears (2001) and more. The Hitcher is really my personal number 1 favorite road psycho thriller film from the 80's, I saw it as a teen when I was in high school.

I got finally after 14 years the DVD on Region 2 after long search I finally got this film in my DVD collection today. I don't know why this movie is not release on Blu-ray I don't get it, why is the remake on Blu-ray but not the original is beyond me.

Directed by Robert Harmon and written by Eric Red and starring: Rutger Hauer C. Thomas Howell and Jennifer Jason Leigh.

This movie has everything great acting from everyone, great direction from Robert Harmon, cinematography is awesome, great practical action effects. Lot of good and eerie atmosphere too. Great gory, huge explosions like the gas station that blows up only in First Blood (1982) you will see gas station been blow up and in here. Cop cars flips over and explodes.

John Ryder (Rutger Hauer) is the ultimate Michael Myers type who kills everyone on the road except Jim Halsey (C. Thomas Howell) who plays with him a game of cat and mouse. He frames Jim Halsey for the murders in which Jim did not commit. Jim is on the run from the maniac "Hitcher" who try's to kill him and plays a cat and mouse game with him. Only one girl Nash (Jennifer Jason Leigh) believe Jim is innocent and he did do nothing and she try's to help him out.

One of the best psycho road action thrillers ever, you have guns, chases everything this cult classic of a film has. C. Thomas Howell is legendary as Jim Halsey who must fight for his life and stop John Ryder.

Rutger Hauer's best performance ever why we fans love this film to death and cherish it, it is because of Rutger Hauer. The Hitcher is a cult classic ultimate thriller-ride the best film of all time. 10/10

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