The Car (1977) – By Nic Brown

 The 1970’s were an interesting time for horror films. Animals attacking, devil worshipers slaughtering and of course in 1978 John Carpenter introduced the unstoppable killing machine briskly walking after his victims. Into this maelstrom of killer this and that came the symbol of Detroit steel gone bad. Christine was still years away when the world first met THE CAR.

Set in a small town in the Utah desert, THE CAR follows Sheriff Wade Parent (James Brolin) as he suddenly goes from being almost bored in his sleepy little town to facing an unknown killer in a big black car who’s been running down anyone unfortunate enough to cross the car’s path. At first everyone believes that it is a psychopath that is driving the car that now stalks the roads in and around the small town. However, as the bodies pile up and the unbelievable way the car is able to resist damage and even do impossible things like fly four feet in the air and smash clean through a house to kill one of its victims, it becomes clear that there is more to this vehicle than a simple homicidal human driving it. Now Wade must figure out what is driving the car and how he can stop it before it’s too late.

THE CAR is one of many killer “insert animal, monster, person or machine here” movies from the 1970’s. There isn’t anything overly original about the film. The cast is good even if the characters they play are mostly two dimensional stereotypes. The one thing that does make THE CAR stand out though is the title character. George Barris, the man who created the Batmobile, the Beverly Hillbillies truck and many other icon custom cars for Hollywood, designed the black brutish car that rampages through the Utah desert. The car is indeed a monster in its own right. The front grill work, headlights and bumper combine to create a evil and frightening visage. The car’s engine roars almost like and enraged animal and the horn blows burst of thundering notes every the vehicle kills.

So break out your disco ball, put on your bell bottom jeans and get ready to see a really cool, evil car mow down as many character stereotypes as can get in its way check out director Elliot Silverstein’s THE CAR. You’d better hurry though, with gas prices the way they are THE CAR may have already met its match.