Overlooked & Underseen: Road Games (1981)
While making up my annual Letterboxd HoopTober Halloween challenge list, I was scouring through different lists looking for something different to watch. When I discovered Road Games was available for streaming on Shudder, well, I knew I had to give it a rewatch. I remember it being good but what I didn’t remember was what a great little Australian movie this was.
Stacy Keach stars as Patrick Quid, an independent truck driver in Australia. He drives the roads delivering meat with his pet dingo. He likes to play the harmonica and talk to himself. One morning, while getting ready to start his day, he notices his dingo sniffing around some trashcans and being watched by someone across the street in an upper floor window. Later that morning, he hears the news that a woman has been founded murdered and mutilated. He tossed the information off and continues on his day. Shortly down the road, he picks up a hitchhiking woman who gradually becomes scared of Quid because of his growing paranoia about a green van he keeps seeing. Once he stops the truck, the woman runs away from him.
Later down the road, he picks up another female hitchhiker, Pamela aka Hitch (Jaime Lee Curtis). Eventually, the two become entangled in the whole serial killer mess (as well as with each other?). Does the green van they continually keep encountering in increasingly dangerous ways really contain a murderer or are they both just really paranoid?
I’m not going to jump into the whole is it horror or a thriller debate here, I’ll let you decide how you feel the movie should be categorized. Yes, there are murders going on but most of what’s going on here is a tense road picture. There is a lot of semi vs. van action here so if you’re into road movies, you’ll probably like this. The last 15-20 minutes of this movie, even the second time around, had me sitting forward, anxious as fuck.
Stacy Keach is on fire here. Honestly, it’s probably the best thing I’ve seen him in. Jamie Lee Curtis is, well, Jamie Lee Curtis. She’s fine here, kind of surprise casting for me until I remember she’s coming off all of those slasher films back then and they probably wanted her to bring her rep to the movie. Shout out to Quid’s pet dingo. I’m always a sucker for dog sidekicks.
On a side note: If I’ve learned anything from watching Australian cinema over the years, it’s that I never, ever want to take a road trip across that country. Films like this one, Wolf Creek, both versions of Long Weekend, Walkabout, even Picnic at Hanging Rock show me that the uninhabited parts of that country are not a place to be trfiled with. Too much open space with nothing around for miles and miles. And while the country looks gorgeous, there is no fucking way I’m getting in a car and driving across it. None.
If you’re looking for something a little different for your October viewing, please check out Road Games. It’s available on Blu-ray and it’s streaming right now on Shudder.