Hmm...after consuming the coverage of Pasquale Festa Campanile's legendary movie in The Dark Side's excellent 'Blood and Black Lace' book, I felt a real desire to check this rarely seen Italian shocker out! Well, when you hear of a 70's Italian movie that stars not only Corinne Clery (of 'Story of O' fame) but the wondrous Franco Nero and grindhouse king David Hess you know that it must be something special! But would it indeed live up to the hype or be a journey of disappointment?

'Hitch-Hike' (or 'Autostop Rosso Sangue') follows vacationing Italian reporter Nero and his abused wife Clery as they tour America in their trailer/car. From opening scenes we see that Nero's character really is an unpleasant man, an abusive alcoholic that's itching for a fight and forcing himself on his good lady whenever the urge takes him and Clery as his wife is both sad and beautiful in her role of put upon and overtly submissive wife. En route to their next destination they stop for a car that has broken down on the highway and offer its occupant a ride. Unluckily for them that occupant is David Hess, fresh from a bank robbery that went awry and as always Hess is playing the role of the sadistic bastard that we know him for so well. Tensions soon rocket as the trio makes their way to the border to Mexico and matters aren't helped any by a series of bloody confrontations that meet them on the way!

'Hitch-Hike' is exactly what you would expect from this calibre of movie but somehow left me feel somewhat lacking by the promise of what 'could' have been. The cast and crew are there for what should be a classic but they really do fail to deliver in what is in fact a mixed bag of middling exploitation fun that at times out stays its welcome. The leads cant be faulted for their performances though but director Campanille probably lays too much expectation at their feet with a heavily loaded dialogue led script that they had no chance of shining with. And whilst the film eagerly delivers the goods when it comes to the occasional scenes of garish exploitation sleaziness (and some rare moments of bloodiness), the bulk of the unfolding abuse mainly aimed at poor Clery's character will leave most cold as she all too submissively gives in to both Nero and Hess's characters wanton desires.

Campanille's direction is solid enough but some keen editing could have upped the pace considerably as many will fight hard to beat the urge to reach for the fast forward button at times. Even the usually stunning Ennio Morricone delivers a luke warm showing with the films score. But as a whole the film is solid enough albeit overlong and should be of great interest to fans of the Italian exploitation genre. That said, the film is also out classed by the far superior 'Rabid Dogs' by Mario Bava which shows how this sort of production van be better done.

This Japanese release from Pioneer is a mixed bag also. Welcomingly the widescreen print is fully uncut and looks pretty good throughout but shows need of some fine tuning on the remastering front (which I'm sure Anchor Bay will do when they eventually put together their inevitably superior release). The two channel mono audio is fair but you'll find you'll be cranking up the volume to pick out some of the dialogue. There's absolutely nothing in the way of extras apart from the optional Japanese subtitles that won't be of much interest (unless you're Japanese of course!)

So not as much a long lost classic but an interesting Italian curiosity and a worthwhile addition to most folks collection (particularly for those who just cant wait for the eventual US release). Sordid exploitation viewing and a bare bones but decent enough DVD release.

Review by Alan Simpson

'Hitch-Hike' can be ordered direct from Luminous Film & Video Wurks by clicking here.

Released by Pioneer/MagNet
Region 2 (NTSC)
Running time - 90m
Ratio - Widescreen
Audio - Dolby 2.0
Extras :