The Car (1977)

A car in a desert.  You try captioning it.
A car in a desert. You try captioning it.

Well, while we’re in full-on ‘Cars Killing Folk‘ season here at T8MC, it’d be remiss of us to not cover The Car (1977) which truly is the granddaddy of the genre (well, after Duel but we’re not sure we can justify going all the way back to 1971 here).

The Car tells the story of a small town that is terrorised by a mysterious black car that announces its bad intentions almost immediately by killing two cyclists. After killing a fairly irritating hitchhiker, the local Sheriff takes notice and starts investigating. Unfortunately, at this point the car already has the taste for blood and starts hunting after anyone it can find. Worryingly, it soon becomes evident that the car has no driver and when a local teacher figures out that it can’t cross consecrated ground, in a fantastically tense scene where it decides it wants to kill a load of school kids, the car’s demonic origins become clear.

We refer you to our previous caption.
We refer you to our previous caption.

What’s great about The Car is how they’ve managed to give the titular car such a dark presence on the screen. Somehow it has a personality to it despite being, you know, a car. These films probably shouldn’t work given that avoiding a car, demonic or not, is generally a simple task (get off the roads and hide behind stuff) but the film works with the concept well and gives the wheeled antagonist a few tricks to keep you guessing. Similar to Christine, the film manages to take a concept that shouldn’t work and make it credible rather than silly.

In the film’s final third, the action ramps up as the car starts carving its way through the town and its hapless police force and there’s no denying the tension and horror of these scenes and with its strong cast (starring James Brolin) and classic road movie direction, The Car takes everything that was great about Duel and gives it an undeniably creepier edge. We’ve been fans for a long time and if you like the sound of it, you should check out Arrow’s excellent Blu-ray release.

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