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Film / The Car

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What evil drives... The Car?

The 1977 film The Car is exactly what would you get if you crossed Jaws with Duel, minus the Spielberg.

Out of nowhere, a car appears in the fictional Utah town of Santa Ynez. But not just any car: It is a heavily modified black 1971 Lincoln Continental Mark III, which proceeds to mercilessly run down local citizens. The local police force is baffled by this, especially given sketchy claims from eyewitnesses that the car had no plates, and much more oddly, no driver...

Enter Chief Deputy Wade Parent (James Brolin), who must find out who or what is driving the damn thing and how to stop it, and hopefully protect his kids, his girlfriend, and, well, everybody else from this motorized menace.

Generally considered to be pretty bad. So Bad, It's Good, actually. Gene Siskel gave it just one star and called it "The Cinematic Turkey of 1977."


A direct-to-video sequel, The Car: Road to Revenge was released in January 8, 2019. This one, set in a Cyberpunkish-future, focused on a district attorney who was viciously murdered coming back to life as the titular car. Ronny Cox cameoed.

There's nowhere to run, so you might as well read these examples:

  • Homicide Machines: The titular car, which is virtually indestructible and either driven by (or is) a demon from Hell.
  • I Shall Taunt You: When The Car traps the kids in the cemetery, Lauren starts taunting it to cause distraction. This turns out to have been a bad idea, as the Car seeks her out in revenge.
  • Immune to Bullets: Shots fired at the Car either do nothing or mysteriously change their courses to miss it. This is dismissed as bulletproof glass and foam-filled tires, but the reality is quite a bit worse.
  • Infant Immortality: Played straight, but only just barely. The Car only didn't get at the kids because they ran into the cemetery. It does injure one kid's arm but he survives.
  • Jerkass: Amos, the local wife-beating drunken lout who handles dynamite.
  • Karma Houdini: Amos. Might be justified in that the Car is literally diabolic and as such would want to spare a wicked man so he can do more evil. This bites it on the tailpipe in the end, though.
  • Loud of War: The Car's horn is extremely loud, and is variously used to intimidate victims and as a sort of Bond One-Liner, coupled with the equally loud engine. At one point, it gets so loud that it shatters some windows.
  • Magical Native American: Thankfully averted with Deputy Chas and Donna, both of whom are depicted as perfectly ordinary people who happen to be Navajo rather than as dispensers of ancient wisdom. Does come slightly into play with an elderly Navajo lady who sees Everett get killed and tries to get Chas to tell the other deputies that "There was no driver in the Car."
  • Metaphorgotten: "You know what your father once said to me?" Beat "...I was gonna make it up anyhow."
  • Novelization: A surprisingly good one by screenwriters Dennis Shryack and Michael Butler (the cover of which is seen above), which features more backstory about the town and the characters, and also has a different, darker ending where there are actually more possessed, evil cars.
  • Obviously Evil: The Car is big and matte black, with huge fenders, a low-cut roof, and windows tinted so dark it's impossible to see the interior. It also has no license plates or handles on its doors. Virtually the only thing disturbing the overall image is its shiny grill and over-sized chrome bumper, almost giving the thing an Evil Grin.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: The Car appears in Wade's locked garage this way. This is also likely how it moved about the town unchecked in spite of police patrols and roadblocks.
  • Parental Substitute: Luke was one to Pete after his father died, which is why Pete's death hits him so hard that he starts drinking again.
  • Plummet Perspective: Used to surprisingly good effect when Ray is attempting to exit his squad car as it's teetering over the edge of a cliff.
  • Railing Kill: The Car bumps Pete over a bridge railing to his death.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Wade, in his first scenes.
  • Scare the Dog: Before the Car crashes the parade rehearsal, the horses that are part of it are shown to be scared.
  • The Sheriff: Everett, then Wade. Wade's father was also a sheriff once.
  • Shirtless Scene: Wade's first scene is one, as he's getting up from bed that he has been sharing with his girlfriend Lauren.
  • Shown Their Work: Unlike most movies that inexplicably depict sheriff's departments as being town cops, the sheriff and deputies are accurately depicted as being a county department (Thomas County, according to their patches). It simply appears Santa Ynez is the county seat.
  • Super Window Jump: How Wade eludes the Car in his garage.
  • Stock Footage: Footage from this movie would later be used in an episode of Knight Rider, where a different sort of evil automobile is sent plummeting over a cliff.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: When it's clear that Car Fu and bullets won't work, explosives are used to finally defeat the Car... and even that might not have been enough.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: The Car really hated that hitchhiker...
  • To the Tune of...: The main theme by Leonard Rosenman is based on the Latin hymn "Dies Irae".
  • Toyota Tripwire: When Wade attempts to go inside the Car, it knocks him out with its door.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: We never do find out what happened to Tattleman, the deputy on guard duty at the parade rehearsal. He's seen wounded but alive when Margie runs to get his car, and he isn't counted among the dead officers that night, so we know he survived, but some update on his condition would've been nice.


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