Roadgames (1981)

This Ozploitation series has been a real crash course in the early work of Richard Franklin, hasn’t it? Admittedly, I don’t know if I’d have got that Roadgames was meant to be Franklin’s riff on Rear Window if he hadn’t said as much (Duel is the rather more obvious, if reversed, point of reference), but now that I know I see it’s actually a pretty clever move, inverting Hitchcock’s man trapped in one room to a man trapped in the wide open spaces of the Nullarbor Plain… Stacy Keach is Quid, a man who drives trucks but insists he’s not a truck driver; it’s a lonely life, just him and a dingo in perpetual danger of being shot as a pest, and Quid may not be, well, the full quid as a result. For example, is there really a serial killer in that green van which seems to keep tailing him on his latest job transporting pig carcasses to Perth? Or is he extrapolating based upon radio news reports because the isolation and tiredness has left him less than fully hinged? Franklin was kind of selling himself as a local Hitchcock, and to be sure Roadgames is about as fair an imitation of Hitch as you could get; the production was a bit troubled by the crew being unhappy about the two leads being American—Jamie Lee Curtis being the other, although I was surprised to discover just how small her role actually is—but there’s no real sense of this in the film, which adds up to a fairly pleasing and mostly effective mix of humour, thrills and stunt action (the latter courtesy of Grant Page, who also gets to play the van driver). Apparently the most expensive Australian film ever at the time ($1.8m budget), and certainly one of the best films in the Ozploitation DVD series.


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