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The Hitcher (1986) – Episode 171 – Decades of Horror 1980s

“He couldn’t have walked very far. … Because I cut off his legs… and his arms… and his head… and I’m going to do the same to you.” Say what? Join your faithful Grue-Crew – Crystal Cleveland, Chad Hunt, Bill Mulligan, and Jeff Mohr – as they learn the perils of picking up a hitchhiker in The Hitcher (1986).

Decades of Horror 1980s
Episode 171 – The Hitcher (1986)

A young man who escapes the clutches of a murderous hitchhiker is subsequently stalked by the hitcher and framed for his crimes.


The Hitcher is an interesting film for several reasons. Your Decades of Horror 1980s Grue-Crew all agree that Rutger Hauer rocks as do Jennifer Jason Leigh, C. Thomas Howell, and a bevy of quality character actors. They also agree that the plot is full of holes, but nobody much cares. Jeff thinks The Hitcher feels a bit like an 80s version of Spielberg’s Duel (1971) and that the desert is almost the movie’s fourth lead character. As the story unfolds, Crystal has a different interpretation of events and thinks her version would have made a better film. Chad is completely on board with Crystal’s interpretation and laments the huge logic holes in the plot, but still loves The Hitcher. Bill says picking up hitchhikers is a crapshoot at best and finds himself liking The Hitcher while, at the same time, being annoyed by it. He also sings the praises of the film’s cinematographer John Seale. 

Your 80s Grue-Crew recommends you turn off your mind and go along for the ride with this taut thriller. At the time of this writing, The Hitcher is available to stream on MAXGO, the Amazon Cinemax channel, and the DIRECTV app. As for physical media, the film is currently available on DVD and a German import Blu-ray.

Every two weeks, Gruesome Magazine’s Decades of Horror 1980s podcast will cover another horror film from the 1980s. The next episode’s film, chosen by Bill, will be Elvira: Mistress of the Dark (1988).

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Jeff Mohr
Jeff lives smack dab in the middle of the cornfields of Iowa and is a long-time horror fan. His first remembered encounters with the genre were The Wizard of Oz, Tarzan gorilla chases, and watching the first broadcast of The Twilight Zone episode, "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge." While he now qualifies as an old fart, he strives to be an Old Boy. Paraphrasing Robert Bloch, he has the heart of a small boy. He keeps it in a jar on his desk. Jeff has written for and SQ Horror Magazine. He currently writes for Gruesome Magazine and is a co-host of the Decades of Horror podcasts - The Classic Era, 1970s, and 1980s - and the Gruesome Magazine Podcast.