The Car (1977)

the car poster 1977 movie
5.0 Overall Score
Story: 4/10
Acting: 5/10
Visuals: 6/10

Some decent looking shots

Killer cars aren't scary, poor plot

Movie Info

Movie Name: The Car

Studio: Universal Pictures

Genre(s): Horror

Release Date(s): May 13, 1977

MPAA Rating: PG

the car attack parade

…You won’t even hear it honk!

In a dusty, desert town, something evil has arisen.  When two bikers and a hitchhiker are killed by a strange black car, Sheriff Everett Peck (John Marley) and Captain Wade Parent (James Brolin) think a madman is lose in their small town.  The car keeps coming back and no one is safe.  With no signs of a driver and a seemingly impenetrable body, the car could be more than just someone with a lust for killing…it could be the devil itself!

Directed by Elliot Silverstein, The Car is a supernatural horror movie.  The film was received poorly but received a cult following with regular airing on TV.

I can remember The Car being on a lot growing up.  We didn’t have cable, but it frequently aired at late nights and on weekends.  I have never particularly found vehicle movies scary (the only possible exception would be Duel), The Car used Duel as an influence, but it doesn’t capture the fear.

the car john marley

Horse heads and killer cars…why can’t I catch break!

The movie doesn’t have much of a plot besides “Hey, there’s a killer car!”  The car just runs over people who get in its way.  When an officer is trapped between the car and a cliff, he stays in the car and dies in a fiery ball of death instead of taking the chance of jumping.  The problem for me is that cars don’t go sideways, and they don’t particularly go off road very well.  The only part of the movie that slightly works for me is when the car launches itself into the home of Kathleen Lloyd for “spiting it”…if that had happened earlier, it would have established a greater danger than simply being on a road.

The cast also obviously struggles with the fact that the movie has little plot or direction.  James Brolin is pretty grumpy about car running down everyone he knows and doesn’t spend much time questioning why.  John Marley is entertaining in his small role and makes you wish he had stuck around a bit long before becoming road kill.  Ronny Cox rightfully returns to drinking when the car starts killing, and is the only one who seems to get that the car isn’t “right”.  Kim Richards appears with her sister Kyle Richards as the children of Brolin.

the car ending james brolin ronny cox

Tremors completely copied this scene…

The movie does have that 1970s dirty grindhouse look that I do like from movies.  It does what it can to try to make the car menacing, but as mentioned, it’s a car.  The movie borrows some of Duel’s tricks and adds a faster speed with this car, but it cannot build the tension it needs (including the climatic last scene which loses all its energy by the time the car faces its potential doom).

The Car isn’t a good film, but it is a bad fun film.  The movie feels very uninspired and unoriginal, but it moves quickly and is relatively harmless in that sense.  If you have time to spare and are looking for something to kill an hour and a half, watch The Car…but don’t expect to be wowed.  The Car was followed by a sequel forty-two years later with The Car:  Road to Revenge in 2019.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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