From The Grindhouse Cinema Database
The Car’s story is not at all complicated, but then again that simplicity is what makes 70’s badass cinema so badass. James Brolin is a cop in a tiny little Utah town in the middle of the desert. A black Lincoln, sans driver but with a healthy appetite for carnage, shows up and starts squishing pedestrians. Brolin and his police force must stop the slaughtermobile before reduces the town’s entire population to roadkill. Let me just say that The Car fucking ran over my face and left skid marks on my eyeballs. This is my kind of movie all the way around. It is a low budget, 70’s action flick that uses its meager resources to the fullest. It does everything right, hits every note, and totally makes me geek out.
Lets start here with the setting. We are talking about the American west here, with all the splendor and grandeur of the mountains and mesas. It doesn’t hurt that cinematographer Gerald Hirschfeld uses the scope of the landscape to not only paint gorgeous imagery, but also highlight the seclusion of this tiny town; thereby accentuating their predicament. I really can’t say enough about the cinematography. The way certain shots are framed, the way they catch the sun off the mountains, and the way they linger on certain shots all culminate into masterful strokes by a fucking brilliant artist.
The town itself if full of some of the most likeable people in horror. These are regular Joes just living the simple life. It reminded me of the original My Bloody Valentine in that regard and, just like in MBV, you actually feel a small sense of loss at their demises. Liking these characters and dreading their deaths is what made the suspense work in this film. Brolin himself is about the most likeable I’ve ever seen him. He is a loving dad and a cop who really cares about his town. The dialogue they write for him is very clever and snappy and Brolin perfectly delivers each and every line.
Now to the car itself. This is one bad motor-fucker. I once gave props to the film Maximum Overdrive for anthropomorphizing vehicles, but this film ability to turn a car into a very human serial killer leaves MO in the dust. The car stalks, plots, and even toys with its prey. Actually there were scenes that utilized the car as if it were Jaws hunting down hapless bipedal chumps and appearing out of the vast unknown to do so (it even has its own music cue).
While most carsploitation films are cheesy action flicks, there is no question that The Car is a horror film. A horror film that delivers some major "holy shit" moments that are so choice. I don’t want to ruin too much, but the scene where the car flips itself to take out two cop cars in a fiery orgy of twisted metal…..sorry, I salivated a little there. I love the scene where the girl is in the trailer and through the window, just off center, the car’s headlights pierce the darkness and you know she’s fucked. When the camera hangs on the devastation in silence, awwwwwwwwwwsome!
There is no explanation for where this car came from which is something I always love in a horror film. I think the unexplained and what is left to the imagination of the audience can really impact us more than having everything spelled out. The car is just a supernatural killing machine and, since it is a car, shows no emotion; its grill and headlights fixed in a stoic expression like Michael Myer’s mask. I’ve actually heard that this made some list of the best worst movies of all time. I call serious bullshit on that! This is a really good movie from start to finish. It is not boring, it develops its characters well, employs beautiful cinematography, and delivers the scares. What more could you want?
Review by Casper Von Sidecar