Death Valley (1982)

Oh, Peter Billingsley. Little Ralphie from A Christmas Story plays Billy, a kid who is on a road trip with his mom and mom’s boyfriend.

While at a stop on the way through Death Valley, Billy stumbles upon a fresh murder scene. Being the oblivious child that he is, he bypasses the dead bodies and picks up (steals) a small frog necklace. It turns out that the serial killer wants the frog necklace and begins stalking Billy and his family as they continue their trip.

The most striking thing about the movie was the lack of menace on the part of the serial killer character. It just seemed like no one really cared that there was a serial killer on the loose or after them.

There were some fun moments like when the killer was stalking the boy in an antique shop or the killer comes after Billy and his babysitter. Who hires a babysitter when they are on a road trip vacation?

All-in-all, the movie feels dated and low budget, but it would have worked if it were just a bit more suspenseful. The killer needed to be ominous and out of the spotlight. Peter Billingsley is still a national treasure, though.