Friday, April 20, 2012


(Umberto Lenzi, 1989)
Mark Glazer (Joe Balogh), a serial killer with unresolved mommy issues, passes the summer by cruising the Virginia Beach coastline, offering lady hitchhikers a ride in his Winnebago of Doom. After luring them inside, he drugs, rapes, and kills them, photographs their nude corpses, then feeds them to the gators.
After a fight with her boyfriend, Kevin, PYT Daniela (Josie Bissett) accepts a ride from Mark. His intentions become clear when she awakens, handcuffed in the back of the RV: Daniela bears a strong resemblance to Mark's absentee mother, and he has a bone to pick with her. Thus begins a game of psychological and physical torture, from which Daniela must escape or face certain death.
To sum up my feelings about Hitcher in the Dark, I have one word: Filmirage. Joe D'Amato's production company put out some of the cheapest, campiest Italian horror films of the late 80's, but HITD is one of the better ones. Like it's kin, HITD is heavily padded-out, this time with many pointless scenes of college kids enjoying Summer break. Well, I'm not sure that you could call standing around and clapping your hands to cheap-ass synthpop enjoyment, but they seem happy enough to do so. Oh, and there's even stock footage of frolicking squirrels, in case the viewer grows weary of all the wet T-shirts and other beach-related shenanigans. The camerawork is also a tad bland, as it lacks most of Lenzi's endearing visual style.
Storywise, HITD brings nothing new to the table. The writing's not half bad, and one may be surprised to find the characters not behaving quite as brainlessly as in other like films. Lenzi does manage to create a bit of suspense with the cat-and-mouse antics between Mark and Daniela, as well as her various attempts at escape and their repercussions.
Shoddy dialogue aside, the acting herein is also surprisingly decent... for a Filmirage feature, that is. HITD contains little in the way of bloodshed or hardcorer violence, and so relies heavily on the actors' performances. Josie Bissett, known for her roles in The Doors and Melrose Place, plays her part competently, switching from softspoken victim to clever escape artist a number of times. Joe Balogh, who also appeared in Lenzi's Black Demons, also gets a passing grade. His character mirrors Bissett's, in that he too switches from softspoken momma's boy to raging psycho at the drop of a hat. HITD is a fairly pedestrian thriller, and it's unsatisfying ending will likely frustrate even the hardiest of viewers. I don't really recommend it, but can't say that it's a terrible film either. It's just...sort of there.

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