Hitch-Hike AKA The Naked Prey

Let not to the marriage of true minds admit violent psychopaths
★★★
☆
Released: 
1977
Director: 
Pasquale Festa Companile
Starring: 
Franco Nero, Corinne Clery, David Hess
The Setup: 
Couple who hate each other give a ride to a violent criminal.
Discussion: 

A reader wrote and recommended this, since it features a merciless examination of a sour relationship, some gay characters, and a hot hunky hero with a vicious porn stache. One Google image search for Franco Nero was enough to shoot this to number one on my list, as I am always eager to review any film that examines the darker recesses of human relationships and psychopathology with heroes that have vicious porn staches.

We have our credits, wherein we discover the music here is by Ennio Morricone. The director is apparently somewhat respected as well, though I wasn't familiar with him. We have Walter, possessee of the searing stache in question, training his rifle sights on a woman's head. Turns out this is his wife, Eve. They are on vacation in California (which looks strikingly like Italy and rather nothing like California) and she starts carping to him about his constant drinking while he happily reports to her that he was just a small gesture away from aerating her brains with his rifle. He then sexually attacks her while the music goes all bwah-wah, and she soon gives in and loves it. Hey--it's Italian!

They stop at this camp where Walter continues drinking as he chats with some of the campers, pointing to a deer arranged rather sexually on a spit (see photo) and says "Can you imagine my wife roasting there instead of that piece of meat?" Eve comes to collect him and he stumbles on the way back to the tent, hurting his hand. We find out from the documentary on the disc that Nero had broken his hand on his previous film, and this was a way to explain why he wears a cast for the rest of this movie. They see a couple disrobing off in the woods, and Walter says that's what he and Eve do, but she icily corrects him: "No, they're making love." I think we'll come to see that their marriage is not one built on mutual trust and respect for each other's needs, wants and innermost feelings.

The next day they pack up and move on, hearing a report of escaped thieves on the radio. We all know what that means. They spot a hitchhiker, and Eve stops to pick him up, against Walter's advice. We can see that the hitchhiker is hiding a corpse in the front seat of the car. He gets in and introduces himself as Adam Cohen, played by David Hess, who also played the psychos in Last House on the Left and House on the Edge of the Park. He soon announces himself as one of the three escaped criminals, and says he has two million dollars in his briefcase. He pulls a gun and holds them both hostage, molesting Eve, who Walter does not describe in the most glowing terms, a tad bit on the way. From here on out Eve will do nothing but alternate between huffing and glaring in silent fury and making bitchy insinuations. Walter is no prince (except to me, who would absolutely adore a hot drunken rapist boyfriend), but Eve is a real pain in the ass as well, bitter at being regarded for only her body while wearing an open shirt, tied at the waist. Add to that Adam with his obnoxious laugh and constant taunts, and you've got some great movie company for the next hour or so!

They get pulled over by cops! Walter writes a note asking for help, then--Adam blows the cops away! Quite violently, too. They drive on, and upon learning that Walter is a journalist, Adam insists that he record and later write his story. There is lots and lots of bitchy badinage amongst all involved. They stop to camp, and the music goes all "sexy" while Adam is making to rape Eve in front of Walter (I hope your subtext sensors tingled upon learning that he is Adam and she is Eve), but then who should show up, but Hall & Oates! They are the other two escaped criminals, and they make sure Adam knows that his kiss is NOT on their list, he's out of touch and they're out of time, their private eyes tell them Eve is a maneater, and if they all get a little adult education they'll understand the method of modern love. Unfortunately, they're not actually the Hall & Oates we all love (though how amazing would THAT be?), but actually Hans and Oakes, and they are--gay lovers!

SPOILERS > > >
I couldn't tell you before, but they actually announce their arrival by shooting Adam. This is a good twist, as you're like "Oh nice, a mid-game psycho change." They get in the trailer in back and make Walter and Eve drive them off, Oakes calling Hans "sweetheart." Awww, I love gay criminal couples. But then--who is this red truck trying to force them off the road? Turns out it's Adam, still alive (please ensure that all psychos are safely dead, thank you), and he quickly dispatches the two BFs by driving them off a cliff with a cheerful "Bye, faggots!" Now we're back where we started, with Adam in the back seat, after Eve has had a little pointless screaming session, which is a welcome break from her smarmy issuing of imperious distain for everyone else's ideas, while having no ideas herself.

They stop for the night, while Walter opines that "Only the homosexuals know what real love is anymore." Adam then full-on rapes Eve in front of the bound Walter, staring right at Walter the whole time... that is, until she starts to LOVE IT. This movie is not suitable for use in sexual violence eradication efforts. Then Walter unties himself! He struggles with Adam! Then--Eve shoots Adam! Wow, so she DOES do something other than huff in silent fury. They toss Adam's corpse (he is indeed dead this time) in the trailer, and take off with the money! But--the car won't start! But--some old Mexican shows up and gives them a tow! Then--they're accosted by snotty hippie bikers! And by this time it's like--WHERE are all these disparate elements going? Anywhere?
< < < SPOILERS END

I am going to protect you from YOURSELF by not telling you the ending, which is both unexpected and yet thoroughly prepared for. It is also at once morally-despicable and yet stupefyingly awesome. Mostly because movies usually don't have the nards to follow through on the ugly implications of the stuff they've been building up to all along.

Now what is the difference between the wholesale hatred of women of this movie and the wholesale hatred of women in something like Tombs of the Blind Dead? I'm SO glad you asked. Here, the movie maintains a big distance on Walter, portraying him as a bitter alcoholic loser throughout, so although the movie portrays Eve as capable of little more than looking hot and being pissed off, it's not saying Walter is any better. In Tombs, the women are relentlessly shown as sexy idiots whose base simple-mindedness destroys themselves and others, while the main male, and two other peripheral male characters, are heroic and noble. Plus in Hitch-Hike, the dirty thrills the movie offers are only partially about seeing women sexually abused, whereas in Tombs, almost all the violence is sexualized and about watching women suffer.

Oh, should I say something about the homo content? Not much to say except it's refreshing to see a gay couple be nasty criminals instead of noble saints who do nothing but have cocktails and experience homophobia, although you have to admit they are particularly SENSITIVE nasty criminals. But the movie follows through on the spirit of the one notable line that the gays are the only ones who experience true love. For whatever that's worth. They still end up powerless and perishing at the hands of the heteros, right?

Other than that, this is a scuzzy, low-down and dirty exploitation movie that isn't afraid to wallow in the mud. But look, you want to eat your greasy roadside cheeseburger at a filthy shack, not the Four Seasons, right?

Should you watch it: 

If you like nasty violent Italian exploitation films of the 70s.