Wednesday, 29 October 2008

A Case of Road Rage

This evening's Halloween video presentation is a different kind of horror: this one of pure evil.

The Car is a 1977 thriller/horror film directed by Elliot Silverstein and written by Michael Butler, Dennis Shryack and Lane Slate. It starred James Brolin, Kathleen Lloyd, John Marley, and Ronny Cox. The story is about a mysterious car which goes on a murderous rampage, terrorizing a small town.

The following excerpt from the film's beginning is certain to chill some viewers despite being 31 years old.

The movie was produced and distributed by Universal Studios, and was influenced by numerous "road movies" of the 1970s including Steven Spielberg's 1971 thriller Duel and Roger Corman's Death Race 2000 (from 1975). It has also been compared to Spielberg's Jaws, with a car replacing the shark. The film is memorable for its sound effects, most notably the terrifying horn blast the car makes when claiming a victim.


The movie is set around a small, fictional, Utah community of Santa Ynez, which is suddenly terrorized by a phantom black sedan that appears out of nowhere. The vehicle begins running people down – starting with some bicyclists and then a French horn-playing hitchhiker. After the car kills off the town's Sheriff Everett, (John Marley), it becomes the job of Captain Wade Parent (James Brolin), to stop the murderous driver.

The car enters town and begins running down the citizens, first attacking a marching band and then mowing people down at a carnival. It eventually chases a group of people into a graveyard – among them Lauren (Kathleen Lloyd), Wade's girlfriend – but curiously enough, the machine will not pass onto the consecrated ground and Lauren taunts it. The car then destroys a wall supporting a cross and leaves. The police officers chase the automobile down highways throughout the desert, but it destroys several squad cars before injuring Wade and then mysteriously disappears.

The hunt for the car becomes a personal vendetta for Wade when the automobile stalks and then eliminates Lauren by driving straight through her house. Wade concocts a plan to stop the horsepower-laden menace, but after discovering it waiting for him in his own garage, he is forced to carry out his plans post haste. He lures the car into a mountainous canyon area where his fellow officers have set a trap for the machine. There, a final confrontation settles the score and reveals the driver's frightening identity.

For trivia buffs the following: The evil car in the film was a customized 1971 Lincoln Continental Mark III designed by famed customizer George Barris who designed the The Munsters "Munster Koach" and the original "Batmobile" used in the 1966 television series Batman.

Although the movie has dated language, clothes, sideburns, it is a reminder of that era in the late 70s with its cliches and a different viewpoint on life.

Research: wikipedia


Tess Kincaid said...

I remember seeing this at the time and thinking it was really scary. I need to watch it again just to experience the '70s!

BernardL said...

Stephen King's 'Christine' was a pretty good book, and made a decent car horror movie too. I do remember that old one from your clip. :)

Charles Gramlich said...

I remember this one. IN fact, it was on not long ago on TV.

Leigh Russell said...

Old films can be scary. Think of Hitchcock.

Gary's third pottery blog said...

But the 70s seem like just the other day, actually...

Steve Malley said...

Thanks for that clip and...

Happy Halloween!!

laughingwolf said...

pretty neat, except for some of the sfx... but then, it is from the 70s

Unknown said...

Your post gives a complete flavor of the movie to folks like me who haven't seen it.

Have a nice weekend...Thomas

Shelley Munro said...

I've seen a Jessica Fletcher mystery that had a car plot where the car seemed to murder people. They must have taken it from this movie.

Barbara Martin said...

Willow, it's a shame movie goers today need special effects with the new technology to get their thrills when we watched this and were shocked.

Bernard, yes, 'Christine' was another.

Charles, since I don't watch TV I tend to do mostly reading and writing.

Leigh, Hitchcock was a master of his craft.

Gary, the 70s were easier, not so rushed.

Steve, you're welcome. Have a Happy Halloween, too!!

Tony, those were the days.

Thomas, this movie reflects small town North America where things tend to be boring and someone wants excitement brought into their life.

Shelley, I have heard it said there are no new ideas for stories only new twists for variations.