The Hitchhiker – The Curse (02/25/86)

Local douche-bag Jerry Macklin takes an ancestral mask off his wall to show his party guests.  He shouts to his business manager, “What did I pay for this one, Mike?”  $4,000.  “I took this to an appraiser and he valued it at what?”  $16,000.  He figures to donate it to a museum, take a tax write-off and double his money.  He sees a another woman giving him the eye across the room and goes to her.

He asks if he knows her and she says no.  This is where being a woman is handy; his next question to a dude would be “WTF are you doing in my apartment?”  Her name is Tanya. Mike interrupts while Jerry is hitting on her.  Someone fell through a rotten railing at one of his properties and plummeted a couple of stories.  Since Tanya has disappeared, Jerry goes to check it out.

The place is definitely a fixer-upper, has character, is a slum.  He goes in and checks out the crumbling building.  He sees a snake slither into an apartment and, inexplicably, follows it.  The old woman living there knows his name.  She thinks it is strange that he owns the building but has never been there. He says he owns stock in General Motors but has never been to Detroit.

She asks what he is going to do about people being hurt in his building.  He says, “I’m going to make repairs.”  As she is stroking the snake, he says he will fix the railing, and fix the heat, “all kinds of stuff”.

He tells Mike about the building as they are working out at a gym.  There are 2 easily mockable things in this scene. First, Mike is wearing insanely short shorts.  Second, Jerry is only lifting 2 plates on his machine.  What is that, 23 pounds, sport?

Jerry wants to do the right thing.  He asks Mike how much it would take to fix the place up.  Mike says it would cost him the beach house he had been dreaming of.

Back at home, Jerry stares wistfully at a model of his dream-house.  There is a very creepy shot of a snake crawling around a hanging plant basket.[1]  Jerry carefully carries it to the bathroom and cleverly puts it in the shower stall.  He calls the super and says, “This is Mr. Macklin in 7-B.”  There is a knock at the door.  He abandons the call and opens the door to reveal 1) Tanya, and 2) that he lives in apartment 7-5, not 7-B.

Nice work with those 2 plates, he-man!

Tanya gives him a massage as he tells his favorite story, how he got rich.  Mike calls.  While Tanya slips into a negligible negligee, Jerry tells him to sell the building.  Tanya unbuckles Jerry’s belt — hey, she’s a snake handler, too!  Wait, you don’t think . . .

Tanya rubs him down with oil, then they have the sex.[2]  Jerry wakes up alone in the morning.   He sees a spot of blood, then more, then way more.  His right leg is a bloody mess.  He goes to the emergency room.  They clean off the leg and reveal a fresh tattoo of a huge snake from his ankle up to his thigh.

After he is cleaned up, he goes back to the building.  He accuses the old woman of siccing Tanya on him.  She says she didn’t sic anyone on him . . . wink, wink.  He shows her the tattoo (and the most precious little anklet sock — seriously dudes, there is no acceptable style where a guy wears less than a full sock).  She says he brought it on himself — literally on himself — by not making the repairs.

He says he will make the repairs and give the building to the tenants.  He asks if that will satisfy her.  She says, “It is not me you have to satisfy.”   He rips open his shirt and sees the tattoo has moved up around his chest.

Later at his apartment, he sees the tattoo has advanced over his shoulder and is up to his neck.  Tanya comes in.  She gives him a knife and tells him to cut off the head of the serpent before it strikes.  He sees the snake around his ankle begins to ripple.  His skin bulges.  We can see something running beneath the tattoo, working its way up to his neck.  A snake bursts its head through the skin near his neck.  He screams and falls to the floor.

When he gets back up, the snake and the tattoos are gone.  He throws the model of his beach-house out the window.  He looks out the window.  He sees the old woman walking away.

This is an example of what The Hitchhiker should be.  It is an interesting story, well-shot, an genuinely creepy.  Well-done.

Other Stuff:

  • [1] This is worth the price of admission for me.  There was a scene in the old movie Frogs which had a snake in a chandelier.  The question of how that snake got into the chandelier was a conundrum that still boggles my mind.
  • [2] In the commentary, Harry Hamlin says he got the idea of their sex scene from a copy of an old nudie magazine called Eros.  Really, no one could independently come up with the idea of inter-racial sex?

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