Starring: James Brolin, Kathleen Lloyd, John Marley, R.G. Armstrong, John Rubenstein, Kim Richards, Kyle Richards, Doris Dowling, Ronny Cox, and Elizabeth Thompson.
Directed by: Elliot Silverstein.
The story revolves around a mysterious customized 1971 Lincoln Continental Mark III car(designed by the same guy who designed the Batmobile from the 60s ‘Batman’ TV Show, George Barris) terrorizing a small fictional community in Utah known as Santa Ynez and going on a murderous rampage.
*Wade Parent (James Brolin): The police captain and protagonist of the story.
*Lauren (Kathleen Lloyd): Wade’s girlfriend who gets herself into a lot of trouble when she taunts the evil automobile.
*Everett (John Marley): The town sheriff.
“The Car” is a mixed up scientific experiment gone awry – Part “Duel”, part “Christine”, part “Death Race 2000”, and part “Jaws” – but all camp. This phantom black sedan just appears out of nowhere in the opening of the flick, seemingly with nobody driving the car. The killing spree kicks off right away, beginning with two bicyclists, then a hitchhiker who plays a French horn, and then the town’s Sheriff Everett (Marley). At this point, the murders grab the attention of Police Captain Wade Parent (Brolin) who sets out to stop the satanic vehicle. “The Car” is obviously influenced by similar ‘road-type movies’ from the 1970s, a couple of them being the 1971 Steven Spielberg film “Duel” and Roger Corman’s “Death Race 2000” from 1975. Much like “Duel”, the shark from “Jaws” is replaced by a vehicle; however, in “Duel”, the material was handled a lot better than here.
The film does have some memorable sound effects however, most notable of which being the car’s terrifying horn which sounds once it claims its victims. The movie also seems a lot like a precursor to Stephen King’s “Christine” film adaptation which was released a few years later in 1983. It even borrows a page from his novel where the car drives through somebody’s house in order to kill them (that scene was unfortunately missed in the film version of “Christine” but what we see in “The Car” is as close to a visual depiction as we’re going to get). The film grows absurd to the point of disbelief – Since the community’s authorities have exhausted all other options to stop the car, why not bring in some SWAT teams from out of state or the military? A few road blocks, some tanks, bazookas, rocket launchers, and wala! The car is toast! That would have made a lot more sense than the “trap” they set up for it in the end. But hey, welcome to the world of low budget filmmaking.