The Car (1977) Review

Director: Elliot Silverstein

Genre(s): Horror, Thriller

Runtime: 96 minutes

MPAA Rating: PG

IMDb Page

Smash together the two Steven Spielberg-directed classics Duel (1971) and Jaws (1975) and you end up with something resembling 1977’s The Car. This is one of those cozy, drive-in-movie-style horror pictures that’s become a bit of a cult classic over the years. The story’s about a mysterious car that keeps killing people in a remote Western American town. Pretty soon, residents are coming up with supernatural explanations for the series of murders.

The Car works, in my opinion, because of its mixture of kitschy silliness and earnest charm. It’s about a roaming, killer automobile, but – golly gee-whiz – the cast and crew put enough effort and sincerity into the production to make it fun. It can get pretty cheesy, but you root for the movie’s success nonetheless. It’s one of those horror flicks that you can watch with just about anybody who’s old enough to handle that genre.

This flick contains some satisfactory kills and scares. Some are better than others, but the body count is just the right size. It’s not so low that you feel cheated, but it’s not so high that the production becomes mean-spiritedly apocalyptic. The special effects are about what you’d expect from a work of this film’s stature, but there is a four-for-one killing that will bowl you over. I’m not sure if it’s the coolest thing I’ve ever seen or the dumbest. You get that vibe a lot during The Car.

Okay, this isn’t the film you’re looking for if you just want a cheap horror film to laugh at and mock (check out Plan 9 from Outer Space [1959] or Halloween: Resurrection [2002] if an itch of that nature needs to be scratched). It’s competent enough to not be a laugh riot, but it’s still too preposterous to take completely seriously. Many movies would wilt if they found themselves in such a predicament, yet The Car still manages to entertain an audience. Apparently, a sequel – The Car: Road to Revenge (2019) – was made a few decades after the original.

My rating is 7 outta 10.

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