Road Games (1981) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

This film is incorrectly called Roadgames at IMDb. The DVD includes dozens of print ads and posters from different countries, and nothing would justify making the title into a single word.

Australian director Richard Franklin is a major fanatic when it comes to Hitchcock films, and a friend of Hitch himself. Hitchcock once accepted Franklin's invitation to speak to a film class at USC - when Franklin was a student! How's that for impressing the teacher! (Franklin later managed to bring in John Ford to speak about Westerns!). Two years after filming "Road Games", Franklin was chosen to direct Psycho 2.

Road Games itself is an Hitchcock homage which offers several tips of the cap to the master:


There is only some very discreet nudity from a victim - played by Angie La Bozzetta. She is naked, but a strategically placed guitar and some subtle camera shots prevent anything but the most modest exposure, with no butt-crack or nipples to be seen.

  1. It stars Jamie Lee Curtis, whose mother appeared in Hitchcock's most famous scene, the shower murder in Psycho.
  2. Curtis's character is a hitchhiker who is called "Hitch". (Hitchcock's nickname)
  3. The main character, played by Stacy Keach, is a trucker whose cab includes quite a bit of reading matter, including a copy of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery magazine.
  4. According to the director in an interview on the DVD, the movie itself was founded on this premise: "what if Rear Window took place in a moving vehicle?"

Keach plays an independent trucker who works the long, barren Australian route from Melbourne to Perth. One night he just misses the last room in the last motel, and has to sleep in his cab, when he sees some activity which seems suspicious. The previous night he had seen a man in a green van check into the last available room. The man had a hitchhiker with him. The next morning, Keach sees the driver of the van, but the hitchhiker is nowhere to be found, and man seems inordinately interested in some large garbage bags. When Keach hears a radio report about missing girls, he spins a fantasy about the man in the van. His fantasy is fueled to an inferno when he passes the green van on the side of the highway, and sees the driver digging a very large hole in which he apparently plans to bury some more garbage bags.

The long trip from Melbourne to Perth creates a community on the highway. One passes someone, and is later passed by them, playing road tag along the a desolate route which creates a sort of community of travelers. Keach interacts with this community, but some of his actions turn the suspicions back upon him. When he is stopped by the police, it turns out that the mysterious man in the green van signed into the motel as Keach, so ol' Mike Hammer is actually the main suspect. (The evil guy could see that Keach had "Pat Quid, Independent Trucker" written on the side of his cab.) Keach then resolves to prove his innocence by catching the green van himself.

For about the first third of the film, Keach delivers a virtual monologue in his cab, since he has only his pet Dingo to interact with, but he eventually picks up a hitchhiker (Jamie Lee Curtis). She believes his story, and together they pursue the van until a rest stop where Keach thinks he has followed the van driver into the bathroom, only to find that he's been tricked. Keach leaves the bathroom to find Curtis missing, and to hear the squealing tires of the van as it leaves in a hurry.

This sets the stage for the final pursuit, with Keach now fully committed to the chase, since he's not only trying to clear himself, but also trying to save Curtis's life. Keach pursues the van. The police pursue Keach.

And ...

You have to see the movie to find out the rest.

DVD info from Amazon

  • Widescreen anamorphic, 2.35:1

  • 20 minute feature on the making of the film, featuring interviews with Keach and director Franklin

  • full-length audio commentary

  • lots of stills, posters, print ads, and storyboards - not just a handful as in many DVD's but dozens and dozens.

  • the original screenplay is available on the DVD, in PDF format

This is a pretty cool thriller, with some humorous touches, some real tension, some macabre details, a very well developed character, and a budding romance which is sensibly interwoven into the narrative.

There is a cliffside wrestling match, a refrigerated truck full of pig carcasses which may include at least one human, and a few other guilty pleasures. You haven't lived until you hear Stacy Keach play Mozart on the harmonica. It is surprising that the film is all but forgotten, because it packs a lot of genre entertainment into its running time.

It's a great full-featured DVD as well, as detailed to the left, and well worth a look if you are interested in this kind of film.

The Critics Vote

  • no major reviews online

The People Vote ...

  • It did not do well at the US box office. Keach believes it was mis-marketed as a slasher film.


The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this film is a C+. Top notch Hitchcock homage, with charm, mystery, and offbeat humor. I might rate it even higher, because I really liked it, but I think only genre buffs will sit through a solid 30 minutes of a sleepless man raving to a dingo, even when it's done so well.

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