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Film / Road Games

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Road Games is a 1981 Australian thriller directed by Richard Franklin.

Eccentric trucker Pat Quid (Stacy Keach) is dispatched to drive a load of pig carcasses to Perth. As one of many “games” he plays to entertain himself on the long road trips, he gives nicknames to fellow drivers and hitchhikers on the road, and guesses at their occupations and stories from clues he sees.

When Pat learns that severed body parts of young women have been turning up in various locations, however, he suddenly realizes from what he’s seen of a man driving a green van (Grant Page) that the man may be the killer he calls “Smith or Jones”. The stakes get higher when Pat picks up and grows close with “Hitch” (Jamie Lee Curtis), a young woman hitchhiking away from an unpleasant family situation, and she becomes a possible target of the killer.

This film provides examples of:

  • All Bikers are Hells Angels: Subverted. The biker Pat encounters is scared of his dog.
  • Beard of Evil: The serial killer's beard and mullet give him a bestial appearance.
  • Big Badass Rig: Pat's truck, the largest and sturdiest vehicle shown in the film.
  • Cultured Badass: Despite his tough appearance Pat listens to Mozart, writes poetry, and plays two musical instruments.
  • Damsel in Distress: Hitch is abducted by the serial killer, and Pat must rescue her.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Pat rejects Hitch's attempt to seduce him, considering himself too old for her.
  • Disposing of a Body: Smith/Jones chops his victims into pieces, puts some body parts in the trash, and buries the rest in the desert.
  • Dogs Are Dumb: Subverted. Pat's dingo alerted him to the extra carcass in the trailer and protected him from the biker.
  • The Drifter: Pat is always on the move and relaxes by playing his harmonica at a campfire.
  • Driving into a Truck: The cops pursuing Pat end up wedged into the trailer's tailgate.
  • '80s Hair: Pat has a moustache and short back and sides. Hitch has the feathered hair typically worn in the early years of the decade.
  • Good Ol' Boy: The employees of the slaughterhouse.
  • Good Hair, Evil Hair: Pat is clean-cut and Smith/Jones is hairy and unkempt.
  • He-Man Woman Hater: Pat theorizes that Smith/Jones' murders are motivated by misogyny.
    Pat Quid: I'll tell you what he thinks of women, he despises them. He thinks they're pigs.
  • Heroes Love Dogs: Pat has a pet Dingo called Boswell and becomes positively murderous when Smith/Jones hurts him. He eventually learns that Boswell isn't actually a full dingo, being capable of barking.
  • Heroic Dog: Boswell saves Pat's life several times.
  • Land Down Under: The roads of the Outback are dirt tracks, settlements are very remote, and there are few working telephones.
  • Let's Meet the Meat: The mascot of the meat packing factory is a cartoon pig dressed as a butcher. The Slogan on the side of the trailer? "Pleased to meat you!"
  • Mystery Meat: Pat's cargo is pig carcasses. Later, the butchered corpses of two of Smith/Jones' victims are possibly planted in the trailer.
  • Old-School Chivalry: Pat is a perfect gentleman to Hitch, even turning down her advances because he considers himself "too old."
  • Police Are Useless: The cops believe Pat is the real killer.
  • Razor Floss: Smith/Jones strangles his victims with a guitar string.
  • Serial Killer: Smith/Jones is the hedonistic type who preys on young female hitchhikers.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Pat has nightmare flashbacks caused by his time in the navy.
  • Shovel Strike: Smith/Jones uses one to smash Pat's truck.
  • Spoiled Brat: Hitch is the runaway daughter of a wealthy diplomat.