'Hitchhike To Hell: Special Edition'
(Robert Gribbin, Russell Johnson, John Harmon, et al / Blu-ray / R / (1977) 2019 / Arrow Films UK)
Overview: Be careful who you hitch a ride with!
All roads lead to terror in 'Hitchhike to Hell,' the delightfully sleazy cautionary tale from cult director Irvin Berwick (Malibu High, The Monster of Piedras Blancas).
Blu-ray Verdict: Robert Gribbin stars as Howard, a bespectacled dry cleaning delivery man and mama's boy whose interests include making scale models, picking up hitch-hikers, rape, and murder.
Howard, you see, has issues: six years ago, his sister ran away from home, leaving his poor mother absolutely distraught.
Now, whenever Howard sees a young lady by the roadside looking for a ride, he picks her up; if, during conversation, he discovers that the girl is running away from home, his rage takes over, and he proceeds to sexually assault and then kill his unfortunate passenger!
Following the discovery of one of Howard's victims, Captain J.W. Shaw of the Crescent City Police Department (Russell Johnson) launches an investigation fearing that a serial killer is on the loose.
With Gribbin putting in a wonderfully overstated performance, leering like a demented loon through his mega-thick spectacle lenses, a steady supply of (mostly) pretty nubile teenagers all willing to get their breasts out to play the helpless victims of his frenzied attacks, this film, distributed by legendary exploitation producer Harry Novak, is a real treat for fans of down 'n' dirty drive-in fodder.
Howard's nasty attacks are naturally the dubious highlights of the film, with our psycho opting to choke or strangle his victims (having first ripped open their tops, of course), before callously dumping their bodies in the dirt.
However, there is also much fun to be had from our psycho's strange relationship with his overprotective mother, who constantly worries that her boy is not eating enough, gives his boss an earful whenever he gets told off at work; and even hops into bed with her son for a cuddle when he has nightmares!
On the other hand, the movie's final death is not quite so funny: Howard loses his temper with an 11-year old runaway in a scene that one cannot quite believe is happening.
I kept expecting director Irvin Berwick to wimp out, and allow her to escape, but, to his credit, the little girl gets it. Of course, the actual killing isn't shown, but we do get to see Captain Shaw taking a look at the girl's body in a dumpster whilst her mother screams hysterically in the background!
This punch-to-the-gut scene is truly disturbing, and more than makes up for the film's lackluster finale - in which Howard is finally arrested and committed to a looney bin! These are Widescreen Presentations (1.33:1 + 1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs via a brand new Blu-ray (1080p) HD presentation and comes with the Special Features of:
Brand new 2K restoration from original film elements
1.33 and 1.78 versions of the feature
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
Original uncompressed mono audio
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Newly-filmed appreciation by Nightmare USA author Stephen Thrower
Road to Nowhere: Hitchhiking Culture Goes to Hell - brand new video essay by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas exploring the dark side of hitch-hiking in the real world and on the screen
Original theatrical trailer
Original press book (BD-ROM Content)
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by The Twins of Evil
+ FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by Heather Drain
'Hitchhike To Hell' Original Movie Trailer