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“Invitation to Dance - It’s a Dance. And sometimes they turn the lights off in this ballroom. But we’ll dance anyway, you and I. Even in the Dark. Especially in the Dark. May I have the pleasure?” --- Stephen King ::::::::::: MY CRITERIA FOR DISCUSSION ENCOMPASSES THE HORROR GENRE AND BEYOND, SO I USE THE TERM "NIGHTMARE MOVIES". SPOILERS CAN OCCUR WITH OR WITHOUT WARNING. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.


July 10th 2008 01:14
Roadgames poster art
A dust-obscured psycho-thriller that plays cleverly with horror conventions, with a sly nod to Hitchcock, and a healthy dose of black humour, Roadgames (1981), directed by the late Richard Franklin and starring Stacey Keach and Jamie Lee Curtis, was the most expensive Australian production in the early 80s.

Pat Quid (Keach) is an independent truckie with a rig full of pork on his way to Perth. His companion is a dingo called Boswell (real name revealed in the end credits as Killer). Pat’s not your typical truckie (“Just because I drive a truck doesn’t make me a truck driver”), he quotes poetry, plays the banjo and harmonica, and, since he doesn’t pop the usual pills to keep him awake on the long hauls he invents invigorating mind games to pass the time, such as making up backgrounds histories of the funny folk that pass him on the lonely stretches of highway, or having philosophical (one-way) conversations with Boswell.

Roadgames Stacey Keach
Stacey Keach as Pat Quid
But there is trouble on the road. A serial killer (Grant Page) is murdering hitchhikers (novel hotel scene at movie’s start), dismembering their bodies and burying the parts on the side of the road. And the psychopath drives a dark green shagmobile (van). It’s third time lucky for young “Hitch” (Curtis) when Pat decides to pull over and give her a ride. She’s plucky and witty and the two of them bond. They pontificate about the green van and its driver, finding themselves in a tense situation at a gas station when Pamela aka “Hitch”, decides to poke around in the unlocked van which they discover is also at the station. Of course, the situation gets out of control, and Pat soon is in hot pursuit.

Roadgames Jamie Lee Curtis
Jamie Lee Curtis as Hitch
Written by Everett De Roche, who penned the recent Storm Warning (2007) as well as the wild pork horror Razorback (1984), Roadgames is well–paced and well-shot, and features one of Stacey Keach’s most engaging performances. Young Jamie Lee Curtis, who would return in scream queen mode the same year in Halloween II (1978), doesn’t have a huge amount of screen time, but her charisma is strong, bouncing nicely off Keach. There is a hint of romance, which provides enough mild sexual tension to keep their relationship as the beguiling anchor through the movie’s second half.

Roadgames Killer
Killer as Boswell
The flowery orchestral score by Brian May (no, not Queen’s May) is one of the few elements that obviously dates the movie (apart from the distinctly English-Australian accents on the radio, and the mention that hitchhiking is illegal … perhaps it still is??). The other notable quirk (oddly popular amongst Australasian movies of this period) is having the police as slight buffoons.

For a movie about a nasty serial killer Roadgames isn’t graphic at all, what violence there is happens off-screen, apart from a scuffle at film’s end. However director Franklin skillfully ratchets up the suspense and suggests brutal violence could erupt on several occasions. His use of Hitchcockian visual motifs (mistaken identities, hallucination, juxtaposing comedy against jeopardy) makes a lot of sense when you know Franklin was a huge fan of Hitchcock.
Roadgames Grant Page and Angie La Bozetta
The serial killer (Grant Page) behind an unsuspecting victim (Angie La Bozetta)
Whilst studying at the University of Southern California in the late 60s Franklin orchestrated a Q&A with the legend for a screening of Rope. Hitchcock in turn invited Franklin to watch him work on the set of Topaz. Many years later Franklin got to direct the very belated sequel Psycho II (1983).
Roadgames Stacey Keach and Jamie Lee Curtis
Pat and Pamela aka Hitch enjoy the great taste of an Aussie meat pie
Apparently Quentin Tarantino is a huge fan of Roadgames, and one can see why; the affable, slightly off-beat characters, the convention twists of well-worn sub-genres, a solid visual narrative, and a playful, mischievous sense of humour. Hardly a classic, and definitely a movie of its time, but one that hasn’t aged badly as so many others of that period and similar ilk have done.

Here's the American trailer:

Roadgames DVD couresty of Umbrella Entertainment, many thanks!


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8 Comments. [ Add A Comment ]

Comment by Damo

July 10th 2008 04:17
I so remember this film.
Part of my Australiana fascination at that time.
I had the Hitchcockian style and hid most of its implausible incidents well except the fact that two yanks crossing Australia happen to find each other randomly.

I think Stacy K went to prison soon after this film. Something about a boat load of coke I recall.
Jamie lived on.

Comment by David O'Connell

July 10th 2008 04:43
I've never actually seen this one Bryn but I am a fan of Richard Franklin.

Patrick scared the crap out of me as a kid and I've always really liked Psycho II - he was on a hiding to nothing when taking that job and yet he turned it into a surprisingly good film. (Ok, Meg Tilly was in it which may have been a factor (

Even his last film Visitors was one of those watcheable b-graders that you can't possibly hate.

Comment by Bryn

July 10th 2008 05:02
Damo, ahh yes, Stacey and the coke saga ...

David, I never seen Patrick, but I like the poster. I've seen Psycho II, I think, years and years ago, but remember very little of it. I need to rent both some time. As for Visitors, it looked dreadful ... Maybe I even saw it and have blocked it from my memory ... lol

Comment by Damo

July 10th 2008 12:06
Psycho 2 was a black comedy.

Comment by Bryn

July 11th 2008 01:45
Shot on the same set as the original if I remember correctly.

Comment by Damo

July 11th 2008 01:57
I think your right Bryn.
The tone was very mischievous.

Even my father laughed at the kitchen scene when made a sandwich for a hot girl and pulled out the big killing knife to cut it. It appealed to my dry wit.

Comment by Cibbuano

November 18th 2008 00:42
great review - I was surprised how much I liked this... it's got a lot of great things going for it... I especially like the theme of 'games' on the road - and how quickly the games change!

disappointed that Curtis kept wrapped up? I am... the poster seems to suggest much more...!

Comment by Bryn

November 18th 2008 02:32
One had to wait til Trading Places a couple of years later for Curtis to bare her buxom babies ...

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