Double Feature Friday: Blow Out & Road Games

An ongoing series of horror double feature recommendations, today's Double Feature Friday offers up two voyeuristic and Hitchcockian thrillers from 1981
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An ongoing series of horror double feature recommendations, today's Double Feature Friday offers up two voyeuristic and Hitchcockian thrillers from 1981

BY LIONEL FRANKENSTEIN

Horror nerds that we are, Fun Size Horror would love to share with you some of our favorite genre films, but with a twist: instead of just listing off some favorites, each week we'll offer up a pairing of two horror films that complement one another in unique or fascinating ways: Double Feature Friday.

Today's entry highlights two blackly-comic 1981 thrillers directed by Alfred Hitchcock acolytes, with each film representing a unique, visually-stunning take on Hitch's own Rear Window: Brian De Palma's Blow Out and Richard Franklin's Road Games.

BLOW OUT (1981/ 108 minutes/ dir. Brian De Palma)

Noted Hitchcock disciple Brian De Palma borrowed whole sequences of Rear Window's DNA (via Antonioni's Blowup and Coppola's The Conversation) for 1981's dizzying Blow-Out. Driven by a "best-of" armament of De Palma-isms (long takes, split-screens, 360-degree camera pans, and voyeuristic themes) Blow Out tells the story of a slasher film sound engineer (John Travolta) who inadvertently documents a political assassination during an outdoor recording session.

Blow Out is a dark, heady meditation on voyeurism, paranoia, and the nature of filmmaking itself, as an obsessed Travolta tries to recreate the assassination on film while losing himself in a conspiracy populated with political power players, a hooker who's seen too much, cold-blooded assassins, and--possibly--a serial killer who garrotes his female victims with a razor-thin wire. In a filmography populated with classics, this is De Palma's masterpiece.

ROAD GAMES (1981/ 101 minutes/ dir. Richard Franklin)

Directed by Hitchcock friend/ admirer Richard Franklin (who went on to direct Psycho II), Road Games is a wild, darkly hilarious explosion of Ozploitation madness, a lean and whipsmart film that takes the road movie, serial killer, and screwball romantic-comedy genres and binds them together with the voyeuristic structure of Rear Window. In it, a too-smart-for-his-own-good truck driver (Stacy Keach) and a young hitchhiker (Jamie Lee Curtis, nicknamed, appropriately, "Hitch"), trail a man across the Australian outback after becoming convinced he's a serial killer who garrotes his female victims with a razor-thin wire (yep, again).

A warped funhouse mirror to the bleak Blow Out, Road Games is a winning, adventurous exploration of the very same elements that made Blow Out a classic. Paranoia, serial killers, obsession, and woozy camera tricks all once again meld into a crackerjack thriller, making Road Games the perfect (albeit breezier) companion to Blow Out.

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