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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