HBO // 1983 // 300 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // November 1st, 2006
He's back on the attack with his backpack.
HBO continues its drip-drip-drip release of their flagship '80s terror anthology, The Hitchhiker, a series of half-hour tales of noir, murder and the occasional slice of art-house inanity. Page Fletcher played the titular guide, a dude in jeans so tight you could actually see the blood work its way through his femoral artery. He introduces and concludes each tale with a string of undercooked prose that sounds a lot deeper that it is. Really, the show was an excuse to go hog-wild with its pay-cable self, throwing around profanity, violence and breasts whenever possible, but there is still some fun to be had -- and a whole lot of young, familiar faces to catch.
This third entry into the DVD series features another random 10 episodes; the only perceivable link common in their selection is the occasional famous to semi-famous actor present. For this go-round you can expect some dope late-night cable work by Michael Madsen, Michael Ironside, Kelly Lynch, Bill Paxton, Lauren Hutton and Shannon Tweed.
Ten episodes spread over two discs:
"Man at the Window"
"Dead Man's Curve"
"Made for Each Other"
"Tough Guys Don't Whine"
"Riding the Nightmare"
"The Cruelest Cut"
Okay, I'm getting tired of defending these sets. While I get a kick out of this particular bit of HBO nostalgia (I can still hear that low-budget synth-beat from the introduction) and there are some decent tales to be found here, these releases are just so half-assed it's hard to give it the old Page Fletcher thumbs up.
Seriously, where's the damn series sets? Is it a red tape issue why we're only getting volumes of random episodes? Is HBO trying to squeeze all the green it can from the Hitchhiker's weather-beaten leather jacket? Maybe these discs are the best fans can hope for, but I tell you this, if HBO suddenly unveils full season sets they're going to have to deal with a teeming mass of pissed-off Hitchhiker fans, whom, I assume exist somewhere.
For these episodes, it's a mixed bag, like any tale-oriented series. There are few good ones (Paxton's a great dickhead in "Made for Each Other" and "Joker" is weird, but packs a nasty twist) a few lame ones ("Riding the Nightmare," where Lauren Hutton dreams she's riding a horse during the whole episode and "The Cruelest Cut" is a prostitute-with-a-heat-of-gold yawner) and some flat-out bizarre ones (Shannon Tweed as a psychopathic artist who puts TVs on mannequins' heads? Alan Thicke as a bad-ass womanizer in "Tough Guys Don't Whine?"). All in all, an uneven batch of episodes, but there's enough entertainment here to keep you from punching yourself in the throat for blowing money on the set.
However, I can't guarantee you won't be self-mutilating while you endure the abysmal technical presentation on this set. A horrible transfer, grainy, flawed, washed-out and blurry; it's like watching a VHS tape after it's been soaking in turpentine for a month. The 2.0 stereo mix does nothing to redeem this. Zero extras, as usual.
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Release Year: 1983
MPAA Rating: Not Rated