Movies From the Black Lagoon

MIDNIGHT RIDE - 1990, Rated R

By Tom Doty

When a young woman leaves her ‘married to the job’ husband she finds herself in worse trouble when she picks up a traveler who turns out to be a sadistic creep with unresolved ‘Mom” issues.

Lara is a nice young woman who has emigrated from Russia and married a policeman, Lawson. Unfortunately he has given more time to his job and less to helping her assimilate to U.S. culture. She decides to leave him but he jumps into the car(despite a broken ankle which only bothers him when the movie needs it too) .

Meanwhile a bug eyed sociopath, Justin, is snapping at a ticket agent when he can’t afford to take a bus to his Psychologist. He is verbally abusive to the clerk but she gets off lucky. Before this is over Justin will rack up a sizeable body count but tonight Travel Agents are off the menu.

Justin fast talks his way into Lara’s car after she abandons her hobbling hubby at a gas station. At first she is grateful for the company but he wears out his welcome in short order. Turns out Lara is one of those people who is intolerant of knife wielding geeks who threaten women when they aren’t scooping their eyeballs out to tie onto a lanyard.

Lawson stays in hot pursuit and eventually tumbles to the fact that his wife is in bigger danger than a domestic squabble. He tries to stop Justin but his training betrays him at every turn. In one of the film’s best sequences our crazed killer actually ties the spouse to the front of his car. He’s not into human hood ornaments but he does get a perverse thrill out of playing bumper cars with the rear end of a car carrier while Lawson dangles helplessly over the engine.

It all comes down to a pitched battle in a hospital. These two go at it like Ali and Frazier while the patients scram for the exits. It’s a decent match that ends with a spectacular body slam onto a power grid. That said this is a horror movie so nobody stays down forever.

What makes this rip-off , or homage if you will, of “The Hitcher ” work is the inspired casting. Sevina Gersak(who?) is okay as the heavily accented Lara but she is overwhelmed by Mark Hamill as Justin. Hamill hits this role like it owed him money . It’s no secret why he made a fine ‘Joker” on the Batman animated series. His killer can occasionally be boyishly charming but he is mostly a sneering loon who burns through this movie like a star going nova.

Michael Dudikoff (the star of Cannon’s “American Ninja” films) is downright staid in comparison. He doesn’t get to do any karate but he does have a few moments during the finale where he cuts loose. Robert Mitchum even shows up for ten minutes and a quick payday as Justin’s ineffectual doctor.

This one is impossible to find (even bootlegs go for top dollar) but you can watch it free on YouTube. Catch it before some stooge in a three piece suit makes them take it down. You’ve never seen Luke Skywalker like this folks.

Best Lines: “I don’t like her, she’s got a fake eye.”

“Cut the crap doc. I’m still killing people.”

“You can tie me to the head of the car again and drive around.”

MIDNIGHT RIDE – 1990, Rated R

By Tom Doty

Tom Doty is a columnist for The Floyd County Times.

Tom Doty is a columnist for The Floyd County Times.


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