ROAD GAMES (1981) Reviews and overview

 

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‘Animal… Vegetable… Or murder?’

Road Games – stylized as Roadgames – is a 1981 Australian horror thriller feature film directed by Richard Franklin (Psycho II) from a screenplay written by Everett de Roche (Razorback, Patrick, Storm Warning). The movie stars Stacy Keach (Mountain of the Cannibal God) as a truck driver and Jamie Lee Curtis (Terror Train; The FogProm Night) as a hitchhiker.

ROADGAMESPlot:

Whilst driving alone through the Australian outback with his (apparent) dingo, truck driver Patrick Quid becomes aware that a serial killer is attacking women and he suspects that the driver of a green van is the murderer and is getting rid of the bodies in pieces in plastic bags burying them in the desert.

On his way to Perth with a load of pork meat, he gives a ride to the hitchhiker Pamela Rushworth and tells his theory about the killer to her. When they park in a gas station, they see the van and Pamela decides to break into the car to investigate. When Pamela disappears, Pat pursuits the van while he becomes the prime suspect of the police…

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Reviews [click links to read full review]:

“From the stylishly-shot guitar string murder to the exciting finale, the film never relies on over-the-top gore and violence, because it really doesn’t need to. Ironically, the one exception to this (during the film’s final moments), was demanded by American distributors to heighten audience perception, and not only looks unnecessarily out of place but is clearly one of the few scenes in the film that doesn’t work.” Screen Highway

“This film is a solid piece of work, probably one of Franklin’s better films. The actors bring depth to their characters that help make the movie better than average. Really the only thing that doesn’t work for me is the constant references to Alfred Hitchcock.” Monsters at Play

” …the film starts out with a strong lead who eventually becomes an unreliable narrator, and there’s a decent payoff at the end. However, the film could have done with some more edits, as it takes forever to get to the finale, and my mind kept wandering until the action bits.” Screen Anarchy

“I appreciated all the nods to Hitchcock but that doesn’t necessarily make it effective.  Roadgames has it’s share of moments to be sure (like the atmospheric opening murder), yet the stuff in between ain’t particularly all that great.  The problem is that Franklin gives us one too many lulls in the action and relies heavily on corny stalling tactics…” The Video Vacuum

Choice dialogue:

Pat Quid: ”Just because I drive a truck doesn’t make me a truck driver.”

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Buy DVD: Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.com

Blu-ray releases:

On 14th December 2020, Powerhouse Indicator releases a Limited-Edition Blu-ray of Roadgames festooned with special features.

New 2020 restoration from a 4K scan of the duplicate negative, produced exclusively for this release
Original mono audio
Audio commentary with director Richard Franklin (2003)
Audio commentary with cinematographer Vincent Monton, costume designer Aphrodite Kondos, production secretary Helen Watts, and film historian Mark Hartley (2019)
Audio commentary with writers and programmers Anna Bogutskaya and Olivia Howe (2020)
Kangaroo Hitchcock (2003): archival documentary on the making of Roadgames featuring interviews with Franklin and actor Stacy Keach
Australian Long Haul (2019): actor Stacy Keach discusses the role of Pat Quid and working in Australia
Audio interview with Stacy Keach (2016): further thoughts on the film by the actor
Audio interview with Richard Franklin (2001): the director recalls his early career as a filmmaker and the production of Roadgames
Archival Interview with Richard Franklin (1981): documentary profile of the director
Audio interview with Grant Page (2016): an in-depth discussion with the actor and stunt co-ordinator
‘Not Quite Hollywood’ Interview Excerpts (2008): over an hour of outtakes from Hartley’s acclaimed documentary on Australian cinema, featuring Franklin, Page, actors Keach and Jamie Lee Curtis, screenwriter Everett De Roche, and assistant director Tom Burstall
Roadgames: A Lecture (1980): archival recording of Franklin, co-producer Barbi Taylor and composer Brian May discussing the making of the film
Neil Sinyard on ‘Roadgames’ (2020): newly filmed appreciation by the British film historian
…And His Ghost May Be Heard (1973): rare short film by Franklin, marking his first collaboration with Roadgames cinematographer Monton
Script Read (1980): audio recording of a pre-production read-through, featuring Franklin and actors Keach and Marion Edward
Music demos: excerpts from the Brian May score in demo form
Original theatrical trailer
Image gallery: promotional and publicity materials
New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
Limited edition exclusive 80-page book with a new essay by Lee Gambin, extensive archival interviews with Richard Franklin, Stacy Keach and Jamie Lee Curtis, Franklin’s 1980 Alfred Hitchcock obituary, an overview of contemporary critical responses, Mark Hartley on …And His Ghost May Be Heard, and film credits
Limited edition exclusive double-sided poster
UK premiere on Blu-ray
Limited edition of 5,000 copies

Scroll down for a YouTube review of the Powerhouse Indicator Blu-ray release.

In the USA, Road Games was released by Scream Factory as a Collector’s Edition Blu-ray on November 12th 2019. The new artwork is by Joel Robinson; the original artwork is (of course) on the reverse side. Special features:

  • Audio commentary with cinematographer Vincent Monton, production coordinator Helen Watts, and costume designer Aphrodite Kondos, moderated by filmmaker Mark Hartley (new)
  • Audio commentary with producer/director Richard Franklin
  • Interview with actor Stacy Keach (new)
  • 1980 script read with producer/director Richard Franklin and actors Stacy Keach and Marion Edwards (new)
  • Composer Brian May’s music demos accompanied by stills and poster gallery (new)
  • Kangaroo Hitchcock: The Making of Road Games – 2003 featurette with interviews with director Richard Franklin and actor Stacey Keach
  • Extended interviews from Not Quite Hollywood documentary featuring actors Jamie Lee Curtis and Stacy Keach, director Richard Franklin, screenwriter Everett De Roche, stunt coordinator Grant Page, cinematographer Vincent Monton, and assistant director Tom Burstall
  • Lecture on the making of Road Games with director Richard Franklin, co-producer Barbi Taylor, and composer Brian May
  • Profile on director Richard Franklin (1981)
  • Audio interview with director Richard Franklin (2001)
  • Audio interview with actor Stacy Keach (2016)
  • Audio interview with stunt coordinator/actor Grant Page (2016)
  • Gallery of stills, production shots, storyboards, reviews, promotional and artwork materials
  • Theatrical trailer

Cast and characters:

  • Stacy Keach … Pat Quid
  • Jamie Lee Curtis … Hitch
  • Marion Edward … Frita
  • Grant Page … Smith or Jones
  • Thaddeus Smith … Police
  • Steve Millichamp … Police (as Stephen Millichamp)
  • Alan Hopgood … Lester
  • John Murphy … Benny Balls
  • Bill Stacey … Captain Careful
  • Robert Thompson … Sneezy Rider
  • Ed Turley … Roadhouse Proprietor
  • Angelica La Bozzetta … Hitchhiker (as Angie La Bozzetta)
  • Colin Vancao … Fred Frugal
  • Paul Harris … Frugal Child
  • Rochelle Harris … Frugal Child

Technical details:

101 minutes
Audio: Mono
Aspect ratio: 2.35: 1

Trailer: