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Film: The Hitcher

Once you pick up The Hitcher, you'll never pick up another!
The original 1986 trailer's slogan

The Hitcher is a 1986 road thriller.

The story is about a young man named Jim Halsey, played by none other than C. Thomas Howell, who's driving a car through the US of A. He decides to go against his mother's warnings and pick up a hitchhiker, John Ryder played by Rutger Hauer, who will then turn his next few days into a wide awake nightmare.

It was remade in 2007 by Platinum Dunes, with Sophia Bush, Zachary Knighton and Sean Bean. See also Highwaymen, its Spiritual Successor by the same director.


The Hitcher contains examples of:

  • Ax-Crazy: John Ryder.
  • Blond Guys Are Evil: Also sadist and psychopath.
  • Book Ends: The original begins and ends with Jim lighting a match, although photographed in different ways.
  • Car Fu: In the remake, coupled with an odd variant of Improbable Aiming Skills.
  • Badass Longcoat: In a villanous example, John Ryder wears one.
  • Break the Cutie: In the original. John succeeds.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Nash.
  • Daylight Horror: Much of the blood and gore happens during the day.
  • Death by Adaptation: Jim and Lt. Esteridge are BOTH killed in the remake.
  • Death Seeker: John Ryder. As the plot uncovers, he repeatedly asks Jim Halsey to kill him in cold blood (after their first encounter when Jim picked up Ryder as an unsuspecting hitchhiker). When Jim fails to do so, John proceeds to go on a path of carnage.
  • The End... Or Is It?: Subverted. John does get up at the end of the original, but Jim shoots him dead on the spot.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Ryder.
  • Final Girl: Jim Halsey (to an extent) and Grace in the remake.
  • Finger in the Mail: The protagonist stops at a roadside diner to call the cops on the serial killer who's been pursuing him. The killer slips a human finger into a plate of fries the waitress brings him.
  • Fingore: One of the most infamous scenes involves Jim finding a severed finger in his french fries.
  • For the Evulz: Seems like Ryder's only reason d'etre.
  • Gorn: The remake. The scene of a German Shepherd licking blood off a slit neck in the original can also count.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: What happens to Nash. Subverted but badly done (the body BOUNCES after being cut in half) in the remake. Also, the fate of the family in the station wagon.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: Nash in the original, Jim in the remake.
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate: Ryder repeatedly gives Jim the opportunity to kill him, goading him to do so. Possibly a subversion, as it's unclear if Ryder truly wants to end his own rampage, or if he wants to turn Jim into a killer who'll carry on after him.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Ryder takes out several squad cars and a frickin' helicopter with no more than a handgun while driving...all to the strains of Nine Inch Nails (in the remake). See also the Car Fu entry above.
  • Love Interest: Nash in the original, Jim in the remake.
  • Not So Different: The movie seems to imply a psuedo-sadomasochistic relationship between Jim and Ryder, and that this relation ship is more father/son or between lovers than hunter/prey.
  • Police Are Useless: At least in the remake. The police officers act idiotically and unmethodically.
  • Sound-Only Death: The murders in the police station, when you only hear two gunshots.
  • Stalker Without A Crush: Ryder.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Jim and Lt. Esteridge in both the sequel and the remake.
  • Villainous Valour: Exagerrated to the fact that Ryder can take down an helicopter with just one single gun.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Lots of these in the original.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Ryder massacres an entire famile. Children included.

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The Haunting HourFilms of 2005 - 2009 Hitman

alternative title(s): The Hitcher
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