Nobody can flog a dead horse like the movie business, the exception being drunk conspiracy theorists. Yet amazingly some themes are practically anemic when it comes to use and abuse. Point in case: the demonic car sub genre. There have been a few valiant stabs at it: Steven King was responsible for Christine and Maximum Overdrive, while you could argue Steven Spielberg’s Duel also featured hell on wheels. But many often overlook a mechanical monster so mean, nobody could call it anything other than… The Car
The Car flopped badly in its day and critics really hated it. Yet today it seems ripe for the cult market. As the titular antagonist, the car is a mean-looking black automobile which decides to start killing people in a rural town. Josh Brolin’s dad, James, is the poor guy tasked with ultimately slaying the beast, but not before it takes out a good number of people. Starting with a pair of cyclists, the car quickly moves up the ranks – mowing down law officers and even gunning for an entire school field trip.
Horror films often trip over themselves when they try to explain things. Revealing the man behind the curtain has a certain way of sucking the sheer terror out of something. Not The Car: it never explains why this vehicle is killing people or even where it comes from. It just appears and starts piling up the hit-and-runs. This works well: as the film progresses, the car becomes to feel more and more devilish. Like Zeus becoming a bull to shag someone, except it’s Lucifer and he’s got a hit-n-run itch. Suitably the movie credits Anton “Church Of Satan” LaVey as creative consultant and even uses a quote from his infamous Satanic Bible. This was probably just for marketing sake – the movie doesn’t contain anything occultish. But it’s nice to think that the filmmakers wanted this to be as evil as it can be. At last one homage agrees: when Futurama character Bender became a Were-Car in the episode ‘ The Honking’, he took a shape similar to The Car.
The Car is perfect material for a remake. The story is suitably lean and pacy, the murders are frequent and graphic (relatively speaking) and the monster sends chills down your spine. Okay, perhaps not that much – you won’t be eyeballing traffic for fear of purgatory. But it certainly has a talent for horror. Actually, scrap that idea: in a remake some dolt will be tempted to actually provide a back story. The Car will have none of that. Because it’s The Car.
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Last Updated: June 26, 2013