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Lorry Drivers in Film...5 Villains and a Hero!

Jun 23, 2008
Those of us who work in haulage companies sometimes wonder what we've done to deserve such a villainous portrayal in the film world. Especially in B movies and horror films, it seems that every time someone runs into trouble on a deserted highway, the bad guy inevitably turns out to be a lorry driver...

The Driver, 'Duel' (1971)

The lead character in this movie (Steven Spielberg's debut film as a director) makes the foolish mistake of aggressively overtaking a tanker truck on a deserted mountain road. From that point on he is chased and hounded by the truck and its driver, until he eventually manages to trick his adversary off the edge of a cliff. You never see the face of the tanker driver in 'Duel', and this has become a trend for lorry driver villains on the silver screen - more often than not, they are the unseen enemy behind the wheel of a colossal lorry or tanker.

Ryder, 'The Hitcher' (1986)

Strictly speaking, the villain in this film isn't identified as a lorry driver, but makes such gruesome use of a lorry and its trailer that he has earned his way on to the list. After embarking on a murderous killing spree, the Hitcher ties the hero's girlfriend to the cab and trailer of a large Mack truck. He then uses it to tear her in half, presumably breaking a large number of haulage safety regulations in the process!

Red, 'Breakdown' (1997)

As if having a single lorry driver as a villain wasn't enough, there seems to be an entire evil gang of them in this film. "Earl", "Red" and their friends and family team up to kidnap Kurt Russell's wife (always a bad move in the movie world) after Russell's character almost hits one of them on (yet another) deserted American highway. At the climax of the film, Red is crushed to death beneath his own cab - a tragic way to go for any lorry driver.

Rusty Nail, 'Roadkill' (2001)

After two young men play a prank on a lorry driver, known only as "Rusty Nail", via his CB radio (never mess with the lorry driver's radio!), he pursues and terrorises them for the remainder of the film. Perhaps in homage to 'Duel', the lorry driver in this film is also never seen.

The Creeper, 'Jeepers Creepers' (2001)

In this film, Hollywood's demonisation of lorry drivers reaches a truly ridiculous level - the bad guy in this film is actually a demon! After being chased by yet another aggressive lorry on a deserted highway (spotting a pattern here yet?), a brother and sister spot the lorry driver unloading corpses into a well. As the driver chases them throughout the rest of the film, it is revealed that he isn't a human being, but is a predatory flesh eating monster. Lorry drivers are used to being portrayed badly on film, but this is really pushing it!

The pattern for lorry driver villains in film seems to be: 1) The heroes accidentally antagonise a random lorry driver on the road 2) The lorry driver turns out to be a criminal/psychopath/flesh eating monster, 3) The heroes spend the rest of the film running (or driving) for their lives. The moral of the story is clear; don't annoy a lorry driver!

But they aren't all villains in the film world - every once in a while, lorry drivers get to be heroes as well...

Smokey and the Bandit (1977)

At last, in "Smokey and the Bandit", we have a lorry driver in a heroic leading role - Bo "Bandit" Darville, who is given the challenge of getting a trailer full of Coors Beer from Texas to Georgia in 28 hours, for a promised reward of $80,000. Perhaps typically, when a lorry driver actually gets to be the hero of a film he hardly spends any time in an HGV, leaving the hard haulage to his sidekick "Snowman" whilst he distracts the police in a flashy Pontiac Trans Am.

He has flawless driving skills, a no-nonsense attitude to problem solving, a healthy disrespect of petty authority and he always gets the girl - in the figure of the Bandit, there is finally an onscreen portrayal of a lorry driver that is almost true to life!
About the Author
Lyall Cresswell is the Managing Director for the Transport Exchange Group. Haulage Exchange, their freight exchange for the 7.5 tonne and above market, offers an independent environment for its members to exchange haulage and owner operator jobs.
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