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Road Games: Collector's Edition (1981) - Blu-ray Review

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Road Games (1981)

Butchering babes in motel rooms and burying them alongside the road.  That’s what you get here in this intelligently made thriller from Patrick’s Richard Franklin and smartly-written script from Everett De Roche.

"this eccentric thriller is worth the HD upgrade and it absolutely delivers the goods . . . including the meat"


Director Richard Franklin’s spin on Norman Bates resuscitated Psycho and launched a series of films that probably went on for far too long, but the fact remains that Franklin - tipping his hat to Hitchcock throughout Psycho II not thought possible - made the film work incredibly well.  He does the same in 1981’s horror-tinged Road Games, packing so many twists and turns in this highway to Hell that it becomes incredibly hard to predict just where this road trip via the murder route is heading.  

The treacherous road.  The big rigs.  The weirdos along the way.  And the stunts.  Could there be a more perfect metaphor for traveling through the Australian outback?  Not as far as I am concerned.  Stacy Keach turns in a hell of a performance as a trucker hauling meat to Perth and, after a series of crazy events, winds up slamming his truck into a boat on the road.  Road Games is the clear winner here and now, thanks to this Collector’s Edition from Scream Factory that is packed with hours of bonus material and interviews, we get to see it again in all its HD glory.

The first kill, as Stacy Keach as Pat Quid and his dingo settle in for the evening, happens in a seedy motel room.  It is a perfect sequence and it is one of many that Franklin and director of photography Vincent Monton excell at here..  The gloved killer is approaching a nude woman in his rented room.  She is playing a guitar.  Tuning it, in fact.  As she tightens the strings, he steps closer.  With each tightened string, he steps closer and closer until finally he slips another string over her head and starts choking her, cutting into her flesh as she struggles.  Road Games (1981)

And then she winds up in the trash that morning.  Literally.  But Quid is onto this killer.  And so begins a rather strange and barbaric trip through the outback.  Along the way, there are rather bizarre occurrences in roadside dives, garages, gas stations, and a free-spirited hitchhiker that Quid names Hitch (Jamie Lee Curtis) and the killer, who has been on-and-off following Quid as much as he has been following him, is there for it all.  

Nominated for four Australian Film Institute Awards, this eccentric thriller is worth the HD upgrade and it absolutely delivers the goods . . . including the meat, which plays a BIG payload for us in the closing moments of the movie.  Fun, gritty, and absolutely unpredictable, Road Games is worth playing.

Just make sure you keep your seatbelt fastened.  The highway to Hell has never before been so unpredictable and wildly intense.

5/5 beers

Road Games (1981)

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Shout Factory
Available on Blu-ray
- November 12, 2019
Screen Formats: 2.39:1
Subtitles
: English
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Scream Factory presents this forgotten and underappreciated thriller from Down Under with a spectacular 2K scan.  There are hours of bonus materials, too.  Fans will be happy to own this title.

Video:

With a new 2K scan of the original camera negative, Scream Factory gives fans of this little shocker something to celebrate.  The images are crisp and detailed and retain their edges.  Framed in a tight 1:85:1 aspect ratio, this 1080p transfer is good, good stuff.  Colors are bold.  Shadows run deep and the crisp textures in the walls and in the backgrounds of this slasher are focused.  There are some moments where the black levels absolutely crush all the definitions and bleed, but given the budget of the shoot, it isn't surprising.  The DTS-HD stereo soundtrack is perfectly suited for the film.  

Audio:

The soundtrack, scored as if it is a harmonica-helmed western by Brian May, might not be a constant thing, but when it is present, it deserves to be celebrated.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • There is a commentary.  Franklin weighs in on his own film and gives nice details on the actors, the casting process, the odes to Rear Window, and beyond.  There is another one featuring the cinematographer and other crew members.

Special Features:

Slipcovered with new art, this release from Scream Factory is going to please fans.  Finally, an underrated classic gets some real exposure.  Dig in and be happy with the results.  

  • 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
  • Theatrical Trailer

Blu-ray Rating:

  Movie 5/5 stars
  Video  4/5 stars
  Audio 4/5 stars
  Extras 4/5 stars

Overall Blu-ray Experience

4/5 stars

Road Games (1981)

MPAA Rating: PG.
Runtime:
101 mins
Director
: Richard Franklin
Writer:
Everett De Roche
Cast:
Stacy Keach, Jamie Lee Curtis, Marion Edward
Genre
: Thriller
Tagline:
On a 1600 mile stretch of desert highway someone is playing a deadly game of sex, violence and sudden death!
Memorable Movie Quote: "Good morning, pilgrims! Morning!"
Theatrical Distributor:
Embassy Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
November 19, 1981
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
November 12, 2019
Synopsis: Stacy Keach is Pat Quid, a lone trucker who plays games to keep his sanity on long hauls through the desolate Australian Outback. Jamie Lee Curtis is a free-spirited hitchhiker looking for excitement with a game of her own. And somewhere up ahead is a maniac in a van whose game may be butchering young women along the highway. But when the killer decides to raise the stakes, Quid's game becomes personal … and the rules of this road are about to take some very deadly turns.

Road Games (1981)

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