I love Australian exploitation films. I find them highly entertaining, especially the ones from the 80’s. Turkey Shoot, Attack Force Z, Razorback, and Dark Age are the first that come to mind. There were so many made I will be honest in saying that I have by no means seen all of them. Well one that I have heard about for a while is called Road Games. It has a good bit of notoriety for a few reasons, the main one is because Stacy Keach, and Jaime Lee Curtis are the two stars, and because Quinten Tarantino is a huge fan. So with all that factored in I knew I had to watch it.
Made in 1981 Road Games stars Keach as a trucker named Patrick Quid. When the film begins we see him getting ready to call it a night after a long day of driving when he pulls into a motel. Unfortunately a guy in a green van pulls in first with a girl that Quid saw Hitchhiking earlier getting the last room and forcing Quid to spend the night in his truck. We see the driver of the van pull out a guitar string and strangle the girl. The next morning Quid notices that driver of the green van watching him but he drives off to pick up his load. He passes various people and hitchhikers, and the green van, which he sees the driver of burying sacks off the side of the road. Things get a bit strange when Quid stops to eat, and while he is in the diner his dingo is attacked by the driver of the green van. Quid chases after him but loses him in traffic.
Things start to down downhill when Quid finds out that a few murders have happened on this highway, and when he picks up a young hitchhiker named Pamela (Jaime Lee Curtis). She and Quid bond and he learns she is actually the daughter of a wealthy diplomate. They pull into a rest stop and Quid notices the green van is parked there. Quid goes into the bathroom to try and confront the man but he gets the wrong guy. When he realizes this he sees the van and Pamela are both gone. Is the driver of the van a serial killer? Is Quid the killer, or at least paranoid? That’s what the film drives (no pun intended) full throttle to find out.
Psychological as opposed to a standards exploitation film Road Games is fantastic. Sure it has all the exploitation traits that you would come to expect and find like nudity, and blood, but Road Games tends to rely much more heavily on the psychological aspect of horror. An almost cat and mouse game between Quid and the van driver is the fuel of this film, and it really works in my opinion. Think of Duel meets Henry. It a good combination of genres and it all works well.
Keach is fantastic as Quid, the sleep deprived trucker who becomes obsessed with solving the case of the serial kill on the loose. Curtis is fine in her role, its just that she really is not in it a lot. She has a decent part, but she doesn’t occupy as much screen time as you would expect. That’s not taking anything away from the film, as no matter how you cut it, it’s a vehicle for Keach, and he is fantastic. He plays his part so well. Paranoid, heart of gold, volatile, all rolled into one.
Scream Factory has done the world a great favor by releasing this film on a collector’s edition Blu-ray and it looks amazing. The film is, for the most part filmed outside and this Blu-ray really shows off how amazing the transfer is. Everything is vibrant and bright, yet manages to still have that exploitation look. Everything sounds amazing as well. The score is nothing amazing, but the sounds of all the vehicles flow through the surround sound. And because Scream Factory doesn’t mess around they have loaded it with special features.
NEW Australian Long Haul – An Interview With Actor Stacy Keach
NEW Audio Commentary With Cinematographer Vincent Monton, Production Coordinator Helen Watts, And Costume Designer Aphrodite Kondos, Moderated By Filmmaker Mark Hartley
NEW 1980 Script Read With Producer/Director Richard Franklin And Actors Stacy Keach And Marion Edwards
NEW Composer Brian May Music Demos Accompanied By Stills And Poster Gallery
Audio Commentary With Producer/Director Richard Franklin
Kangaroo Hitchcock: The Making Of Road Games – Featuring Interviews With Director Richard Franklin And Actor Stacey Keach
Extended Interviews From Mark Hartley’s Documentary Not Quite Hollywood Featuring Jamie Lee Curtis, Stacy Keach, Director Richard Franklin, Stunt Coordinator Grant Page, Screenwriter Everett De Roche, Cinematographer Vincent Monton, And Assistant Director Tom Burstall
Lecture On The Making Of Road Games With Richard Franklin, Co-producer Barbi Taylor, And Composer Brian May, Introduced By Critic Tom Ryan
Profile On Richard Franklin (1981)
Audio Interview With Richard Franklin (2001)
Audio Interview With Actor Stacy Keach (2016)
Audio Interview With Stunt Coordinator And Actor Grant Page (2016)
Gallery Of Stills, Production Shots, Storyboards, Newspaper Reviews, Promotional And Artwork Materials
This is a loaded set of a loaded film. Fans of thrillers, as well as horror fans will really enjoy this one. Its now made the list of my top 10 Ozploitation films, and I am sure it will make yours as well. If you have never seen an Australian exploitation film this one will make you want to seek out more. Pick this one up and add it to your collection.
Overall 3.5 out of 5 Stars!