High Octane Cinema: The Car (1977)
"Oh great brothers of the night who rideth upon the hot winds of hell, who dwelleth in the Devil’s lair; move and appear…" - Anton LaVey
If you’ve been reading this series on TFS (and I know you have been), you’ll notice that my colleagues have chosen pretty prestigious films to write about; Bullitt, Vanishing Point, The Driver, and the like. I, of course, did not go that route and, really, did you expect me to? Ladies and gentlemen, I give you… The Car.
First off, to get it out of the way, yes this is a straight up rip-off of Jaws. Instead of the Atlantic ocean, we’re in the Southwest desert, but it’s essentially the same story with an asshole demon car instead of an asshole shark. James Brolin (post-Westworld, pre-Amityville) is Chief Deputy Wade Parent. He’s a divorced dad of two young girls (those wacky Richards sisters, Kim and Kyle), who’s just trying to get it on with his girlfriend, Lauren (Kathleen Lloyd). Is that so wrong? Apparently, it is because his town is visited by the Car.
The Car starts picking off people before the authorities even know there is a demonic car in their midst. Some lusty students on bikes… gone. The annoying french horn player? Squished. Eventually, parents and staff (including Ronny Cox) get wind of what is going on but they just think it’s a madman behind the wheel. The entire town is being terrorized by the Car but any attempt to stop it is thwarted. As my husband said while rewatching the movie with me this morning, “That car is an asshole.”
The bodies start piling up and, I’m guessing, the town’s yearly supply of body bags is being depleted at an alarming rate. How the hell are they going to stop a car that doesn’t have a driver, is bullet proof, and can turn on a motherfucking dime? You’re just going to have to watch this baby to find out.
Is this movie great? Technically, no, but is it a fun ride? You bet. Brolin’s the highlight here. There are a couple of scenes between him and the Car where there isn’t any dialogue, so Brolin just has to react with his face. Meaning, he just looks like a confused dog, like when you showed him a biscuit and then make it “magically” disappear in your other hand. It is a sight to behold and worth the watch just for him. Also, a special mention to Anton LaVey who not only provided the quote that opens the movie (and my piece) but is also credited as a “technical advisor.” That should tell you all you need to know about the movie.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Car itself. Designed by George Barris, it looks like something you’d drive in a GTA game. It’s a customized Lincoln Continental that doesn’t quite look finished. Nonetheless, the Car is pretty bad ass as it drives around the desert knocking people down. Again, it’s also a bit of a jerk. It does things like honking its horn jauntily as it runs people over, it revs its engine at people, and, if it feels like it, the Car will protract a death needlessly, just cuz.
The Car is available on Blu-ray from Shout Factory. I rented it via Amazon Video and the HD copy I watched was pristine. It looked like the movie was shot yesterday. If you’re looking for something fun to watch this upcoming 4th of July week that isn’t Jaws, you could do worse than watching one of its many rip-offs.