The Curator of Schlock #386 by Jeff Shuster

Hitch-Hike

Also known as Death Drive. 

The trunk popped open and three goons adorned with bandanas and torn jeans yanked me to my feet. We were in a dark alley somewhere in the dead of night. A cat meowed after knocking over a garbage can, beer bottles clinking to the asphalt. This spooked one of the goons, a lanky guy that kept twitching.

“Let’s finish him off,” he said, turning his head from right to left. “I feel like we’re being watched.”

“Relax,” said another goon grasping an aluminum bat with both hands. “Boss said we could play with him first.” — To be continued.


This week’s movie is 1978’s Hitch-Hike from director Pasquale Festa and is another in the line of Italian exploitation pictures inspired by The Last House on the Left. While this one does not follow that standard formula, it does star David Hess, the actor who played the sadistic Krug Stillo in The Last House on the Left. It also stars Franco Nero of Django and Street Law fame. And we get Corinne Cléry, who starred in Mooonraker and The Story of O. I haven’t seen The Story of O, but with a title like that I think I will have to.

Hitch-hike begins with a husband and wife on the great American road trip in southern California, camper in tow. Walter Mancini (Franco Nero) is an Italian journalist married to Eve  (Corinne Cléry), an American woman from a rich family. Walter likes to drink…a lot. Walter and his wife fight…a lot. Walter falls after tripping over a tent at a campground and busts up his right hand so he can’t drive. While on the road, Eve sees a hitchhiker and picks him up despite Walter’s protests. That hitchhiker is Adam Konitz (David Hess), an escaped psychopath from a hospital for the criminally insane.

Walter attempts to be on his best behavior, but Adam keeps taunting the couple. When Adam rambles about a sexual act he’d like Eve to do for him, Walter punches him in the mouth and  has Eve pull over. He forces Adam out of the car, but then Adam pulls a gun on them. Turns out Adam stole two million dollars and is on the run from the law. He needs the couple to drive him to Mexico where he can live the high life. Two members of the California Highway Patrol pull them over before they can reach the border. Walter secretly alerts the police officers to their predicament, but Adam gets wise and wastes the cops in short order.

Adam finds out Walter is a journalist and wants him to write a book about him. These plans are thrown awry when Adam’s former partners in crime, shoot him and take the Mancinis hostage. They just want the two million dollars and transportation to the Mexican border, but then a truck rams into the Mancini’s camper. Can you guess who’s driving that truck? Yes, it’s Adam and he’s not so dead after all. He has a shootout with his former heist partners, severely wounding one of them. He offers to drive them to a hospital in his truck, but then jumps out of the truck before sending it careening off the road so it can crash and explode. More twists and turns come and I have to say that I’m glad I watched this. It’s a good thriller with the right kind of shocking ending.


Photo by Leslie Salas.