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HBO presents
The Hitchhiker: Volume 3 (1987-1989)

"Open 24 hours. Does that mean you?"
- Trout (Bill Paxton) - Made for Each Other

Review By: Chuck Aliaga   
Published: October 31, 2006

Stars: Page Fletcher
Other Stars: Michael Madsen, Bill Paxton, Kelly Lynch, Lauren Hutton
Director: various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (violence, adult language, nudity, strong sexual situations)
Run Time: 04h:13m:52s
Release Date: October 31, 2006
UPC: 026359379321
Genre: television

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B- BC-C+ F

DVD Review

HBO's The Hitchhiker is one of the oddest among the slew of 1980s anthology TV series. Its tales are not what are usually considered true horror, as there aren't any supernatural elements to them, but they do provide a nice combination of sex and graphic violence with nutty fashion and hair styles. The 10 episodes in this third volume are in their original uncut broadcast format as aired on HBO.

Each episode begins with the title character (Page Fletcher) strolling along a random road, musing about life, and introducing us to the particular schlub or schlubs whom we are about to watch go through some horrible ordeal. After said ordeal, the guy with the constantly extended thumb reappears to assess what we just witnessed. As with previous releases to DVD, Volume 3 is another random collection that features a little bit of everything. We get serial killers, peeping toms, some poison, and a lot of prostitutes as was befitting of the '80s style. Many of these even play like one of that decade's biggest crazes, the music video, with their odd cutting and rock music. The Hitchhiker is an acquired taste, which this latest collection is a fine testament to.

The 10 installments are spread out evenly over two discs. The first is The Man at the Window. This voyeuristic tale is an excellent starting point, given its fast pacing and unbridled erotic subject matter. The story is a twisty love triangle and then some, focusing on Arthur Brown (Edward Albert), who frankly ruins Diane Hampton's (Penelope Milford) life. Diane is no saint herself, as she is having an affair with Cathrine (Belinda Montgomery), which she is hiding from her abusive husband, John (Michael Madsen). If this doesn't give you a feel for what the series is all about, I'm not sure anything will.

Dead Man's Curve finds Lee (Michael Ironside), a local sheriff, revisiting the past when Claudia (Susan Anspach), now a famous writer, comes back to town for a high school reunion. Unfortunately, their past wasn't exactly a pleasant one, and horrible events ensue. Made for Each Other tests the relationship of two friends (one of which is played by Bill Paxton) who pick up a prostitute, and Joker teaches that practical jokes can indeed go too far. Disc 1 ends with Videodate, a cautionary tale for womanizers everywhere.

The second disc kicks off with Best Shot, starring Ken Olin (yikes!) and Parker Stevenson (double-yikes!) in the story of a lawyer who is responsible for driving away from the scene after hitting a pedestrian. My Enemy finds the legendary B-movie actress Joan Severance playing Jane Ambergris, who wants to change her life with a new identity. This is my favorite in this collection; look for a cameo by a young Carrie-Anne Moss. Tough Guys Don't Whine has a movie director (Alan Thicke alert!) way in over his head due to casting choices for a new gangster project, and Riding the Nightmare shows us a woman (Lauren Hutton) who will and can do anything to get ahead in her career. Cruelest Cut is the last episode of the set, ending things with a sexy bang of a tale. Look for Melody Anderson (Dale in Flash Gordon), who makes this one worth watching all by herself.

In all, thi latest set gives us another nice collection of Hitchhiker shows. The individual stories aren't repetitive, with the writers holding back on the clichés whenever possible. I'm sure die-hards are still holding out hope for seasonal collections of the show, but until that happens, just having the ability to revisit this sexy series is better than nothing.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Presented in their original television format, there's nothing (nor has there ever been anything) flashy about these shows. While it appears a bit of cleaning up has been done, an abundance of dirt and grain is still prevalent in these transfers. The colors are muted, but image detail is nice, as are the shadow and contrast levels.

Image Transfer Grade: C-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: The audio is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 and is slightly better than expected. This is still a show that's more than 20 years old, but there is some nice separation up front. The dialogue is nice and crisp as well, as it's blended into the overall mix without incident.

Audio Transfer Grade: C+


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 50 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
2 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: Unfortunately, there are no extras whatsoever on either disc.

Extras Grade: F


Final Comments

I can't rank The Hitchhiker among the great all-time anthology series, but it deserves credit for not shying away from adult content. It's just too bad this material often gets in the way of an engaging story, but we all need escapes of this kind, regardless of plot. HBO Home Video gives us another decent effort as far as audio and video go, but the complete lack of extra features is a disappointment.


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