The Hitchhiker – The Miracle of Alice Ames (07/15/89)

haliceames08I decided to give this my undivided attention.  I would make no notes, and give it a fair chance.  The joke is on me because now I have to watch this piece of shit again.

First of all, why is this set in France? Did it originally air on Maison Box Office?  And how far is this hitch-hiker going, anyway?  If those opening desert scenes of him were France, stick to the 1989 domestics.

Brother Charles (Joe Pantoliano) operates The Church of Limitless Love.  Most of his parishioners seem to be seeking a hot meal more than the word of God.  This day, Alice Ames comes in from the cold.

After the sermon, Alice delivers soup to Brother Charles.  He wastes no time explaining that “love is love” and she is “deeply and unconditionally loved”.  He wants to build a new church.  “A temple where people from all over the world could come and feel safe.”

Alice is shown to a room that she will share with Melissa.  She is going out for the evening as Alice is getting into bed.  She says she has a “missionary position in the organization.”  haliceames10I can’t cast any stones about lame, obvious jokes, but this is painfully shoe-horned in and delivered.  It does indicate to us, however, how Brother Charles plans to pay for his new gold and silver “castle in the sky.”  Of course, keen observers of the human condition might have figured that out as the opening scene of the episode was Melissa pushed against a brick wall getting bloody railed.

Even though nothing is ever explicitly said, Alice is given a new suit of hookerwear.  She puts it on and hits the street.  She picks up a guy who seems to be wearing the top half of a scuba suit, but is probably some fashionable Euro-wear.  Aquaman lays on top of her, and the next thing we see is him running out of the hotel room, covered by blood.  The hotel manager looks in and sees Alice with blood pouring from her hand.

Brother Charles rushes to the hospital to pick up Alice.  He is met by a policeman who thinks he can now bust Charles’s operation.  When did the French become such prudes?  On the way back, Charles stops the car and tells Alice to get out.  He says he “can’t have this kind of thing in my church.”  What kind of thing?  Because she seemed to be stabbed? Because it was stigmata?  I have no idea what the point was here.  She gets out, fortuitously, right in front of another church — one that doesn’t operate in a storefront.

haliceames14She looks up at a statue and cries out that it is a test and she will prove herself to be a believer.  We see her wrapping her hands and feet, but where is she?  Then we see her walking through a hospital.  Then we see her being escorted out of the earlier hotel room by the police.  I can’t even begin to speculate what this series of events means.  Was it a flashback?  Did she return to the scene of the . . . well, it wasn’t really a crime.  What the hell?

She returns to Brother Charles who exploits her stigmata as “a living example of God’s work”.  The bucks are really rolling in.  Before the congregation, he unwraps her feet to show her bloody wounds.  As they gasp, he holds up her arms to show her bloody palms.  They again recoil, although it might have been at her shaved armpits.

After the service, Charles is enjoying a swig of sacramental vodka with Alice.  He accuses her, in the nicest possible way, of faking the wounds, then starts negotiating their split of the proceeds.  Charles climbs on top of her, and she cries, “This is the wrong kind of haliceames20love!”  She seems scared to death as he forces himself on her.  Her hands begin to bleed and he dies — why, I have no idea. There is blood on his face — why, I have no idea.  Alice goes limp beneath him.  I guess she is also dead — why, I have no idea. The police know to come examine the bloody room — why, I have no idea. There is a very choppy edit back to the titular hitchhiker who explains nothing.  Not even HTF he got to France.

This is probably the most incoherent episode I have watched for this blog.  It is stunningly inept at every turn.  As with both previous Hitchhiker episodes, it is leaden and humorless; but that seems to be, inexplicably, what they are going for . . . so, kudos for succeeding.  Unlike the other episodes, here you are frequently left having no idea where people are, what their motivations are, and why things are happening.  I assume, at a mere 23 minutes, there were huge chunks of this that were even worse, so were edited out.  Was this like the last episode of The Twilight Zone, where they just bought a French short film and passed it off as original?

OK, everyone has an off week.  The exchange student director didn’t work out, the funding fell short, the story just didn’t translate from the page.  But after it is filmed and seen to be such a turd, WTF would you put it on Volume 1 of what can reasonably be expected to be a greatest hits compilation?  And in the third slot?

Rating:  This ain’t no miracle; this ain’t even a card trick.

Post-Post:

  • From the director of Girl Slaves of Morgana Le Fay.  Maybe that’s what got my hopes up.
  • Never got around to it above, but what about those scars on her wrist?  Another mystery.

One thought on “The Hitchhiker – The Miracle of Alice Ames (07/15/89)

  1. The hitchhiker probably stowed away on a plane/boat, or magically walked across the Atlantic. As far as the story, even though the setting was “different” and the conman’s death was weird, I enjoyed it because bottom line there was moral behind it. You have a man who is taking advantage of girls, and he’s also taking advantage of religion.

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