Getting your first car is a threshold into becoming an adult, a freedom that every kid craves, we love our cars here in America – but what happens when our friend becomes our enemy? What happens when The Devil possesses the great American dream? Just when you thought it was safe on the street again, here comes The Car! Meet me after the jump for my 31 Days of Horror review of The Car!
This movie has a firm place in my memory because it was one of several that were shown at lunch time my senior year of high school. Along with Flash Gordon, Superman II, and Night of the Living Dead, which was shown at night due to content, I got to see The Car at school in the auditorium, split into two parts because of time constraints. Often over the years I have wondered whose idea this was, and how they came to choose The Car to show.
The movie comes from an era in the 1970s where most cheap horror movies followed one of two patterns. There was either demonic possession at work or nature gone wild in the mode of Jaws. In the case of The Car, we got just a little bit of both, here there was a demonic out of control car hunting victims. After Duel (which it wants badly to be), but before Christine, it was silly, but well done for what it had to work with.
I recently got to see the flick again after many years on, of all places, Svengoolie (he’s no Dr. Shock, but he cleans up nice), where I also got to see Gargoyles! again. It had been a few decades since I had seen The Car, and I was completely surprised to see that it opened with an Anton LaVey quote. No worries though, as I noted a few months back, he’s a dog with no bite, more self-help guru than bogeyman. LaVey is however hilariously credited as ‘technical advisor.’
The movie follows a demonic matte black 1971 Lincoln Continental Mark III, customized by George Barris, who also designed the 1966 Batmobile and the Green Hornet’s Black Beauty, as it terrorizes a small Californian town. We see it pick off victims one by one, roar with its signature horn blasts, refuse to enter a cemetery because it’s on hallowed ground, fight James Brolin and the cast, and turn into a flaming demon when it blows up. Great fun, predictable but fun.
The cast is adequate for this type of horror movie, both Brolin and Ronny Cox doing their 1970s television best. I especially remember John Rubinstein teaching me that that funky trumpet from the Sgt. Pepper movie is actually called a French horn. See, you can learn things from these movies. Also look for Kim Richards as one of Brolin’s daughters, the other played by real life sister Kyle Richards.
Still, The Car is the real star of the movie, and for better or for worse, it is a character in the movie, and one could say it was the most charismatic of the cast, which yes, doesn’t says lot about the cast. It has its moments, and it’s fun, a good popcorn flick if you turn your brain off and take it for what it is. Mindless fun.