Director: Richard Franklin
Staring: Stacy Keach and Jamie Lee Curtis
The 1980s is one of the high points for classic films, from long lasting franchises like Indiana Jones and Karate Kid, to one of a kind classics like The Breakfast Club or The Thing and everything in between. There is a never ending list of classic and instantly recognisable films from the decade. It’s full of unique fashion, hair and music that instantly sets the time and place. There isn’t another decade like it. We are currently going through a revival where there are so many films/tv shows coming out that borrows the aesthetic to give credibility to their show and live in the nostalgia.
It goes without saying that while the ‘must-see’ film list of the 80s is extremely long, that there a films that are more than worth seeing that no one really talks about. When you find one of those gems it’s a miraculous feeling. Road Games, directed by Richard Franklin with a screenplay by Everett De Roche, is one of those forgotten gems that should be considered a classic. In any other decade it probably would be.
Part Rear Window, part Duel, Road Games is a horror thriller following Pat Quid, played by Stacy Keach, a truck driver who is suspicious about a van driver he sees with a hitchhiker one night. There is a killer on the loose killing hitchhikers. He isn’t completely sure and the police won’t take him seriously. As he travels from one side of Australia to the other, he keeps on running into the van driver, antagonising each other. Along the way he picks up Pamela, played by Jamie Lee Curtis, and together they try to solve the mystery. Throughout he isn’t even sure if the van driver is the murderer, but there is something off about him.
This film should be a classic and I can’t understand why I haven’t heard of it before. It’s full of suspense, humour and great performances. It’s incredibly tense and will have you on the edge of your seat waiting to see how the next scene plays out. Pat Quid is incredibly charismatic and charming as the lead role. Jamie Lee Curtis is also great as Pamela, playing off Keach’s character with great chemistry.
Throughout the film, there is a small group of travellers that keep on popping up along Quid’s cross-country journey delivering. They pop up again and again, making you feel that this is almost a wacky race across the country, as they each take the lead from each other. The characters are all quirky and funny throughout. Quid monologues to himself towards the start where he goes through the people he sees on the road, throwing out jokes here and there, he gives them all names, which is how they are listed in the credits. They aren’t fully formed characters, the only ones that matter are played by Keach and Curtis, but the supporting characters are funny and bring a quirky personality to the film.
There are moments of this film that have an insane amount of tension. It doesn’t matter that this film is 40 years old, it feels like it could have been made last year. It’s still funny, it’s still scary and I would say that it is a hidden classic. It’s a damn shame that we got so many pointless Halloween, Phantasm and Friday the 13th sequels but not a Road Games 2 or even a remake in the years since. Road Games is in a desperate need of being re-evaluated. It isn’t widely available in the UK, not appearing on any of the main streaming services, not even to rent. The DVD is pricy¸ and the Blu Ray is just stupidly expensive. Hopefully one day this will change.