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February 16, 2016


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Autostop rosso sangue
Pasquale Festa Campanile - 1977
Raro Video BD Region A

On the surface, there may seem to be a disconnection, with Pasquale Festa Campanile going from being one of the writers on such certified classics as Luchino Visconti's Rocco and his Brothers andThe Leopard to directing and cowriting Hitch-Hike. I have yet to see other films "Pasqualino" has directed, but if this is any indication, there is an interest in examining how men, especially Italian men, deal with masculinity, both their own and that of others.

The thematic concerns are discussed in part by the character, but the most expressive scene is that in which the man, Adam, picked up on the road by the couple, Walter and Eve, rapes Eve. Taking place in an isolated area off the highway, the three have set up a small campfire outside. The gun-toting Adam ties up Walter, and forces Eve to undress. Walter helplessly watches while Adam climbs on top of Eve. Eve at first seems to be attempting to resist Adam, but eventually appears to be a mutual participant. A close up reveals a teary eyed Walter. Is Walter crying because of what is happening to his wife, or is it a result of feeling humiliated and emasculated, especially in the presence of Eve. Is Eve really responding to Adam in the way Adam imagines, or simply taking the path of least resistance, or possibly doing what she can to control the situation?

While the reputation of Hitch-Hike is that of an exploitation film, there is more going on than the featured sex and violence. Simultaneously, some might cite the casting of Corinne Clery, an actress with no problem being filmed nude, as being exploitive. Yet I think what makes this a film of interest is that it lends itself to more than one reading. Certainly, Freudians, amateurs and professionals, would have something to talk about with one of the most potent and iconic images of Hitch-Hike - that of the nude Clery with the very long rifle.

The film begins with Walter viewing Eva from the scope of a rifle. The scene cuts between Eve walking along a path, and Walter glancing at her through his scope. Walter shoots his gun, and the film cuts to a falling deer. It is after this that it is established that Walter and Eve are an unhappily married couple. Additionally, this opening scene establishes the idea of men as predators, constantly on the hunt.

Some of the same concerns in Hitch-Hike were expressed off-screen as well in the documentary supplement, with Clery discussing her relationship with star Franco Nero. David Hess, the go-to guy for playing sociopathic killers, talk about his involvement in making the film and working with Nero and Clery. Hilly Campo Imperatore was used for location shooting for a story set in Nevada. The blu-ray also has booklet, with an essay by Bret Wood, confirming what my own research indicated - the novel that has repeatedly been mentioned as the basis for Hitch-Hike does not exist except in someone's imagination.

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Posted by Peter Nellhaus at February 16, 2016 02:36 PM