Horror

High Stakes For Sure – Road Games (1981)


Stacy Keach is good in anything and seeing his name on a poster or the credits for a film means one should automatically give it a watch no matter the subject. Factor in Jamie Lee Curtis and one knows that at least cast-wise, there is a lot of good going happening on the big screen. Thankfully, Road Games, or Roadgames, is a movie that turned out to be a lot of fun and fairly suspenseful with a touch of horror thrown in towards the end to make it even better.

The premise involves a serial killer that is making his way across Australia, picking up hitchhikers, all of whom are women, and burying them along his way. Keach plays Pat Quid, a truck driver who notices the killer’s green van and notices his strange behaviour on the road. What follows is a strange game of cat and mouse with Quid following the killer, sometimes the killer following Quid. Quid is determined to get the man arrested, to catch him before he can do anything else and yet, he finds it impossible to convince anyone, cops or otherwise of what is happening. It is only when Curtis comes on the scene and gets kidnapped herself do things really kick into high gear and as it motors towards its conclusion, one has to wonder just who it is will be the victor and who will be the victim.

Starting out at a leisurely pace, the movie captures one’s attention immediately through the performance of Keach, his earnestness really grabbing ahold of the audience so that it is hard to turn away. When director Richard Franklin introduces the antagonist, the plot device which is going to move everything forward, he does so subtly. As it progresses, it only gets more interesting and more intriguing and of course, ratchets up the tension with Quid until he is finally talking to himself at one point, the man losing his mind it seems. It makes the viewer wonder for just a moment if everything is as it has been made out to be until finally, there is no doubt. Many say that this picture is Hitchcockian in nature and perhaps Franklin took some inspiration from the legendary director to produce such a wonderful piece of film but he does take it and mould it into something of his very own as well, especially during that final chase and that incredible ending which again, casts just a bit of doubt.

There is a lot to love about this movie, from the pacing to the twists and turns that abound throughout and the restraint Franklin uses in keeping Curtis almost a secondary character when most would push her front and center. She is quite good in her role as is the rest of the cast but it is Keach that shines and who brings it all home for the viewer. When all is said and done, Road Games is a film that one can watch again and again and never tire of, the tale of a roadside killer is not exactly new material but its execution more than makes up for it and more.

4 out of 5


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