As part of my vacation super fun, I basically looked through Final Girl’s Film Review Archive O’ Fun and tried to find which obscure, weird movies were on Netflix streaming. Not a lot, my friend, not a lot. I basically ignored new released, that I could see any old time, and tried to focus on the weird and the old. That would make a good soap opera title, I would watch The Weird and the Old. Hollywood, get on this! Anyway, that’s how I found 1977’s The Car starring James Brolin and James Brolin’s moustache.
I love that poster. Look at all of that negative space. The typography nerd in me loves that font, it looks so…fast.
The thing about The Car is that you get exactly what you expect from it, no more and no less. It’s about an evil car terrorizing the small town of Santa Ynez. We see it run down two cyclists and then it runs over the most annoying, French horn havingest hitchhiker ever. Amos (R.G. Armstrong), the drunk, abusive eyewitness says that the car ran over the guy four times. Front, then back, then front, then back again, and sped off. He can barely identify the car, though, he just knows it was dark and had no license plates. James Brolin plays Wade Parent, a captain on the police force. He sports the most manly seventies moustache ever.
He’s a cool single dad who rings his daughters to school on a motorcycle.
It’s up to the small town police force to ring THE CAR to justice. They start to suspect that the car is supernatural and not just driven by a jerk-tong when it chases a group of students and teachers practicing for a parade into a cemetery. The car won’t go into the graveyard because it’s hallowed ground. Why, oh why didn’t they cancel parade practice? Why, oh why didn’t they close the beaches? There’s a subplot about Wade’s deputy, Luke (Ronny Cox!), hitting the bottle after two years of sobriety. Wade’s girlfriend, Lauren (Kathleen Lloyd) taunts the car until it speeds off pursued by the police. At one point in this scene an elderly teacher wearing flip-up sunglasses shouts “Cat poo!” It’s one of those movie moments that makes you scratch your head and say, “Huh? Did I just see that? Did you dose me?”
The car ends up killing five officers before they finally trap it in a canyon that they blow up with dynamite, burying the car. They all see a demonic face in the fiery wreckage.
This movie seems straightforward, but there’s some weirdness in it aside from the “CAT POO!” scene. There’s a scene between Wade and Lauren that’s like some weird extended foreplay. It involves accents, old-fashioned rasslin’, and a discussion about how it’s impossible to brush your teeth without wiggling your butt. Odd, I thought it was impossible to brush your teeth without your jubblies shaking but I’m a chick so I may be biased. The whole scene feels really weird. Was this the seventies’ version of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl? I always assumed that the Manic Pixie Dream Girl of the seventies was Maude from Harold and Maude.
A scene that I liked in particular was when Denson (Eddie Little Sky) tells Amos to “sit-um down” when Amos was being extra jerky. Reclaim that stereotype!
Finally, I loved when we see Lauren’s house. It looks like a rummage sale was dumped inside and it has the weirdest painting of what might be Wade but it could also have been Burt Reynolds. Boy, the seventies were kooky!
This movie isn’t perfect. There were definitely pacing issues and some of the chase scenes felt way too long. Also, there’s absolutely no explanation given for the devil car. I was really curious about where it came from. The closest we get is a warning from an elderly Navajo woman who something bad is coming and that the car had no driver. I also disliked them burying the car. It just seems like a supernatural problem should have a supernatural solution.
That being said, the movie was fun even if it wasn’t very scary. I recommend it if you want to see a predecessor to The Hearse, Christine or Rubber.
- Scarina--the authoress and editrix of this site. I like scary movies and have dedicated my free time to cataloging horror--the good, the bad, and the ugly. Sometimes there are books too.
There's film criticism, literary criticism, and humor here. I can be highbrow but there's lots of pop culture too. And feminism.
I fervently love "Twin Peaks" and wish it were a real place so I could move there. I can't list my favorite scary movies because they change depending on my mood, the season, and how much coffee I've had.
I'm an artist looking for ways to blend creepy with cute. I try to channel my childhood nightmares, my love of horror, and my experiences with sleepy paralysis.
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