The Car (USA 1977)

If it weren’t for George Lucas, “The Car” would’ve been the surefire hit of 1977 and we’d all be reminiscing about the classic “Car Wars” trilogy and remembering how incredible James Brolin was as Wade Parent. There might even be merchandise like dolls and a black car for kids to buy. Gathering together some key horror movie elements (small desert town, scrappy desert folk, demonic Lincoln vehicle), the makers of “The Car” must’ve felt they were on top of a goldmine. What went wrong? That bastard George Lucas and his big budget Star Wars for one. And that other bastard Spielberg bad mouthed this as a Jaws-on-wheels rip off.

OK, I can’t verify the Spielberg accusation but I’ve never had much time for Hollywood’s chutzpah whiz kids of that period. I prefer directors who do not become bloated billionaires drowning in their own privilege…Anyway, watching this film reminds me of the Doors’ song, “Riders On The Storm”. Indeed, the villain rides on a storm of a car and straight from hell. If this motion picture is a commentary on American’s car culture, then it holds even more true today as a manifestation of what we now call “road rage.” And there’s no better embodiment of road rage then this jalopy. A bulky low top behemoth that’s a cross between a hearse and a Lincoln. Its horns are the trumpet of doom, calling for the end of the world. Its windows are tainted red, as if to contain the fiery fury of road rages from bursting out of one dimension and into this world. The car itself vomited from hell, now riding through the badlands of Utah, killing whoever is in its way – or not in its way, with extreme prejudice.

The premise is terribly asinine and illogical, but writers Michael Butler, Dennis Shryack and Lane Slate storm up a rather stimulating and intense screenplay with a no-bull attitude and plenty of ambiguity to boot surrounding the car. This unsolved mystery and lack of hidden meanings doesn’t hurt it at all, because it focuses on keeping it simple to raising up the interest. The multi-facet script strikes many stark developments and gets in some sardonic wit amongst its elaborate set-up. It almost has that old-fashion feel of those horror films from the 1950s. Director Elliot Silverstein does wonders with the one idea concept, to effectively engineer and stylishly serve up exciting top-drawer monumental action sequences. The high-speed stunts are superbly captured by Gerald Hirschfeld’s expressively scenic, but also crisp, intrusive photography. Brewing from its atmospheric tenor is a real unsteadiness, which lingers from the ominously alienating and brooding dust bowl locations. Honk honk.



  1. Sounds like an entertaining flick to watch on a Friday night, I’ll be putting this on my to-watch list. Thanks for sharing! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My pleasure. ๐Ÿ™‚


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