The Hitcher

Director: Robert Harmon
Year Released: 1986
Rating: 2.5

Just trying to be a good person, Jim Halsey (C. Thomas Howell), driving someone else's car from the Midwest to San Diego, picks up a hitchhiker named John Ryder (Rutger Hauer) who acts menacing and Halsey boots him from the car ... except Ryder doesn't give up so easily, and proceeds to follow and torment him for the rest of the movie.  I've heard stories of people hitchhiking everywhere way back in the day, but in the 80's I heard nothing but horror stories about getting into a vehicle with strangers, and I think this plays into that general distrust and paranoia at the time, although it seems to suggest nothing other than "evil exists and is persistent" (the murder of Jennifer Jason Leigh's innocent waitress is ghastly) and Hauer's mystery man has almost supernatural powers to appear wherever and whenever screenwriter Eric Red wants him to pop up (suggestions that it's about homosexual panic suggest it's smarter than it actually is).  Strangely enough, the idea of getting into the cars of strangers has made a comeback with Uber and Lyft: not the best idea, frankly, as the days of Kerouac and Ginsburg are long gone.