7.3/10
39,304
247 user 97 critic

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.

Director:

Robert Harmon

Writer:

Eric Red

On Disc

at Amazon

3 wins. See more awards »

Photos

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Cast

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 ... 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
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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:

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

Genres:

Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | French

Release Date:

21 February 1986 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Liftaren See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$6,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

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

Gross USA:

$5,844,868
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo (4 channels)

Color:

Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Eric Red: Screenwriter can be seen in a cameo role toward the end of the film as a sheriff's deputy escorting the prisoner to the transfer bus. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

John Ryder: Gas stations have cigarettes.
Jim Halsey: What about gas?
John Ryder: I don't need gas.
Jim Halsey: What do you want?
[John starts laughing]
Jim Halsey: What's so funny?
John Ryder: That's what the other guy said.
Jim Halsey: What other guy?
John Ryder: That guy back there, the one we just passed. The guy who picked me up before you did.
Jim Halsey: That was him in there?
[...]
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Southbound (2015) 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 davideo-2See 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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