Hitch-Hike

Gritty, surprisingly well scripted and just plain mean, this '70s road thriller features an outstanding Ennio Morricone score and continues to play well decades after its initial release. Italian journalist Walter Mancini (Franco Nero) and his American wife, Eve (Corinne Clery), are on a camping vacation Nevada, but all they do is bicker and have angry,...read more

Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
Rating:

Gritty, surprisingly well scripted and just plain mean, this '70s road thriller features an outstanding Ennio Morricone score and continues to play well decades after its initial release. Italian journalist Walter Mancini (Franco Nero) and his American wife, Eve (Corinne Clery), are on a camping vacation Nevada, but all they do is bicker and have angry, punishing sex. Eve complains that Walter drinks too much, Walter resents the fact that Eve's father is his boss, and during a sordid, drunken scene at the communal campsite, Walter drunkenly stumbles over another camper's tent line and breaks his hand. The following day they begin the drive back to Los Angeles, towing their comfortable caravan. Ignoring Walter's warnings, Eve picks up a hitchhiker, Adam (David Hess), who almost immediately establishes himself as a boor. Walter tries to throw him out after an obscene remark about Eve, at which point Adam reveals that he's one of a trio of thieves who pulled off a bloody robbery in nearby Barstow and killed a cop in the process. Adam has the money — $2 million in a battered suitcase — and if he's going to get past the police roadblocks, he needs the Mancinis to drive him to Mexico. The trip gets increasingly ugly as complications ranging from nosy highway patrolmen to Adam's double-crossed partners (Joshua Sinclair, Carlo Puri) heat up the already sexually charged triangle simmering within the confines of the Mancini's car. Screenwriter-turned-director Pasquale Festa Campanile began his career penning films like Luchino Visconti's ROCCO AND HIS BROTHERS (1960) and THE LEOPARD (1964), but his directing credits are heavy on silly sex comedies and violent thrillers. Barely released in the US, AUTOSTOP ROSSO SANGUE did excellent international business, partly on the strength of Italian leads Nero — a huge European star — and Clery, who had recently starred in the sexually provocative STORY OF O (1975), and partly because Hess, a star of the notorious LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (1972), gave it instant exploitation credibility. Though set in the American Southwest, the film was shot entirely in Central Italy's Gran Sasso region; Nero's bandaged hand was written into the script shortly before shooting (after he broke his hand finishing Euro-Western KEOMA), forcing Clery to drive throughout. Despite its reputation as a sadistic sleaze-fest, the film is well plotted and delivers some 11th-hour surprises.

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