Guest List: Eric Red’s Top 5 Truck Movies
Eric Red, author of the new truck-thriller novel White Knuckle , has written such vehicular-minded movies as Near Dark , The Hitcher and Cohen and Tate (the last of which he also directed). Now he takes the wheel of Flick Attack’s first-ever Guest List!
Big rigs, the tractor-trailer 18-wheelers we see rolling along the American highways, belong in movies. There’s something bigger-than-life about the huge, rumbling, mythic diesels driven by those modern day cowboys, The Men Behind the Wheel. It was a lifelong fascination with these giant trucks and the colorful world of truckers that inspired my new high-octane thriller novel, White Knuckle, a mystery tale about an FBI agent on a cross-country hunt for a prolific serial killer/interstate truck driver. It’s surprising more films aren’t made about the epic world of the long hauler, but several truck movies have delivered on the exciting cinematic dimensions of big rigs. Here are my personal top-five favorites:
1. Duel (1971)
The mac daddy of all truck movies. A businessman four-wheeler overtakes a big rig on the highway in his car and, for the rest of the film, the menacing truck tries to kill him. Directed by Steven Spielberg, this ultimate present-tense thriller has no subplot, has no character backstory and we never even really see the truck driver. It’s a pure linear exercise in vehicular cat-and-mouse ratcheting suspense, with the scariest tractor-trailer 18-wheeler in movies — more animal than machine.
2. The Wages of Fear (1953)
The genius of this French thriller, about four truckers in South America on a suicide mission driving two truckloads of volatile explosive nitroglycerin through the jungle, is that it’s a vehicular action movie that moves at 5 mph. That’s about as fast as the heroes drive, because one bump and they get blown up. Honorable mention to William Friedkin’s Sorcerer, the 1977 muscular Hollywood remake, with its astonishing sequence of a nitro truck crossing a collapsing rope bridge during a hurricane rainstorm.
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