Duel (1971)


Duel; based the last Richard Matheson short story; originally made to air on the ABC channel as a Saturday movie, and was later released theatrically with an additional 16 minutes of footage that was required to give it the 90-minute running time for a theatrical release. This is a classic film that still holds up to this day, and this is also the first movie that broke Steven Spielberg into directing feature films, because before this he was mainly directing shows and specifically made-for-TV movies.

Yes, he was a young punk at the time, but it's clear from this movie that he was a young punk with a lot of potential. Shot in 16 days with a budget of nearly half a million, Steven Spielberg manages to deliver the suspense and thrills that some directors still dream to achieve.

I've always been curious about this movie since I'm partial to horror flicks and thrillers involving people on the road to nowhere. Sadly I never could find this movie for rent and I wasn't looking to purchase it. Luckily for me, Universal decided to give it the Collector's Edition treatment, and sent a review copy my way. I'm glad they did, because I really enjoyed this movie from start to finish.

The story is simple but effective -- a man is on his way across-country on a work-related journey, crosses paths with a crazed trucker that wants to pass him up, but won't for some reason. He finally passes, but goes slower than before, forcing the man to now pass him up. From then on a game of cat and mouse is played by the two, resulting in the man nearly losing his life by getting run off the road by the trucker. With little to go on but the fact that he drives a truck, the man fails to find outside assistance, and eventually takes matters into his own hands as the two duel it out in the deserted roads.

This is definitely a movie not to be missed, especially if you're into flicks that involve people surviving on the road in an unknown environment. It's obvious to me that many movies tried to copy this film, like one entitled Wheels of Terror, where they cleverly replaced the truck with an ominous black car and replaced the business man with a female bus driver. Also lets not forget the more recent and low-budget Black Cadillac. Yes, those are just a couple flicks with the formula that has been used over and over again, but you just can't beat the film that seemingly started it all.

A classic to be watched by those who enjoy the killer-vehicle/survival-road flicks. Definitely worth a watch.
A classic to be watched by those who enjoy the killer-vehicle/survival-road flicks. Definitely worth a watch.