Hitchhike to Hell (1977)

Somewhat inspired by the “Co-ed Killer” Edmund Kemper — who shows up on Netflix’s Mindhunter and now reads books on tape — Hitchhike to Hell is all about Howard (Robert Gribbon, Trip with the Teacher), a mild-mannered momma’s boy whose delivery job gives him plenty of time to pick up runaways and punish them for their transgressions. Can the cops stop him before he kills again?

Irv Berwick also directed Malibu High and The Monster of Piedras Blancas, so you know he’s coming from a place of pure sleaze. This movie comes from the vaults of the legendary — or infamous — Harry Novak and is one of the last movies that his Boxoffice International Pictures released. You may know them from other films like Axe (AKA Lisa Lisa or California Axe Massacre), The ChildRattlersWham! Bam! Thank You, Spaceman!The Sinful DwarfDr. Frankenstein’s Castle of FreaksToys Are Not for Children and so many more fine efforts.

At one point, Captain J.W. Shaw (Russell Johnson, the Professor from Gilligan’s Island and Dr. Steve Carlson from This Island Earth) mentions several real serial killers, like the Zodiac Killer, the Skid Row Slasher and “that nut down in Houston,” which refers to Dean Corll, who abducted, assaulted, tortured, and murdered at least 28 teenage boys and young men between 1970 and 1973 in Houston, Texas.

Why is Howard so nutty? Is it because of his way too close relationship with his mama? Or because his older sister ran away from home as a teenager and was never heard of again? Did his sister really have it coming, like his mother mutters to herself? Your guess is as good as mine, because this movie never reveals the answers. It does, however, have teenage runaways killed with coathangers, so there’s that.

Basically, don’t hitchhike. You kids don’t have to worry about that. You’ve got Uber now.

The Arrow Video blu ray of this movie features a brand new 2K restoration from original film elements, as well as a newly-filmed appreciation by Nightmare USA author Stephen Thrower, a video essay by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas exploring the dark side of hitch-hiking in the real world and on the screen and the original trailers for the movie. You can get it from Arrow here.

DISCLAIMER: We were sent this movie by Arrow Video.

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