Hitch Hike to Hell is a 1977 horror film produced & directed by Irvin Berwick (Malibu High, Strange Compulsion, & The Monster of Piedras Blancas). It was written by John Buckley (Malibu High). From the vaults of exploitation producer Harry Novak (Toys Are Not for Children, The Child, & Rituals), this feature is influenced by serial killer Edmund “co-ed killer” Kemper & his gruesome crimes. Howard (played by: Robert Gribbin from Don’t Go Near the Park, Trip with the Teacher, & Teen Lust) is a mild-mannered momma’s boy whose job running deliveries for a cleaning agency affords him a lot of time out on the road. It’s not until he picks up young women who’ve run away from home that he transforms into a twitching, homicidal maniac, hellbent on meting out punishment for their “transgressions”. Captain J.W. Shaw (played by: Russell Johnson from Gilligan’s Island, This Island Earth, Attack of the Crab Monsters, & It Came from Outer Space) is determined to end his reign of terror. Can the cops put a stop to Howard’s demented spree before he claims yet another victim?
Serial killer Edmund Kemper hasn’t had that many films made or influenced from him when it comes to cinema. Recently, he was portrayed on the popular Netflix series “Mindhunter” for the last two seasons which has grabbed the attention of the public & made the real life monster popular to the mainstream. Hitch Hike to Hell was one of the first features to use him as an inspiration back in the day. Robert Gribbin is solid as the lead here & the supporting cast boosted the overall production. For a serial killer movie made in the late 70s, you would think this one would be really sleazy & brutal but it’s actually kinda tame for the most part. It does have some nudity but I am surprised it didn’t have more considering who it was based on. There’s not much when it comes to gore or special fx either for this. Most of the kills are basic & nothing that demands a violent outcome. It’s more of a character study so don’t go into this expecting some kind of slasher but the body count is better than some of them. I will say when Howard murders that little kid, it stays with you & feels worse than seeing some bloody death on screen. The score for this sets the tone for everything. The script & acting make the obscure Hitch Hike to Hell worth checking out, RECOMMENDED!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Arrow Video! These 1080p (1.78:1) & (1.33:1) transfers are from a brand new 2K restoration from original film elements. This feature has looked beyond rough in the past & it’s like whole new experience now thanks to Arrow. I honestly never expected this small & unknown film getting blu ray treatment like this, that’s why I love Arrow Video because they resurrect material like this. This is a massive upgrade compared to past home video releases. The English: DTS-HD Master Audio Mono track is solid. Don’t expect it to blow your mind or anything like that but it gets the job done. The dialogue is clear & the music has a nice boost to it. It also has English SDH subtitles. Very impressed with how this low budget film looks & sounds on this new high definition release compared to before!!!!
Let’s discuss the special features from Arrow Video! “Of Monsters and Morality: The Strange Cinema of Irvin Berwick” is a little over 29 minute interview with author & film historian Stephen Thrower. Thrower is always full of knowledge, he goes over the director’s start & career in the film industry. He brings up the gruesome images he used in early monster films when no one was really doing it. He talks about the director starting his own production company. He says Irvin directed some uncredited sexploitation & hardcore films during his career. He goes into great detail about Hitch Hike to Hell. He talks about the various film it paired up with during double & triple feature showings. He says it had a few different titles when Novak was distributing it. He chats about some of the actors involved in the film also. He says most of them were film students that never worked again or that they used fake names for this project. “Road to Nowhere: Hitchhiking Culture Goes to Hell” is an almost 22 minute video essay from Alexandra Heller-Nicholas. She chats about Hitch Hike to Hell for a little bit. She goes over the history of the Hitch Hike sub-genre. She talks about a variety of films that fits the category. It’s full of lots of information about the subject including true crime events & the cinema known for it. “Nancy Adams on the Road” is an almost 25 minute interview with the song-writer & singer. It goes over her career & highlights from making music. She talks about how she got started out in the music industry. She chats about the albums, commercials, & movies that she has worked on over the years including Walt Disney’s Robin Hood. She mentions all the talented people that she has worked with during all of this. “Lovin’ On My Mind” Original Song & Alternate Opening Titles. It’s a nice little comparison with both different versions of the track plus it has an intro from Nancy Adams. It has 2 “Trailers” for the film. It has reversible artwork & a 23 page booklet for Hitch Hike to Hell. It was a nice surprise to get this on blu ray but Arrow Video made it even better with all this bonus material. It’s available everywhere right now, CHECK IT OUT!!!!