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Show me the CARFAIL! (The Car)


Some of you may have noticed that I've reviewed mostly 80s movies. There's a pretty simple reason for this. I found some a torrent of 80s sci-fi cheese called “Return of the Cheese”. So, in short, laziness.

This week, though, I'm doing something crazy. We're gonna scroll it back to 1977 because a torrent for “The Car” was simply too tempting. Now, if it'd been uploaded with its Canadian name, “Deathmobile”, I'd have probably reviewed long before now.

The Car actually isn't that bad a movie. Its premise is kinda dumb, and its logic weak, but overall it isn't terrible. It's certainly no The Green Slime or Hobgoblins, but it's still pretty damn funny.


In short, the car is the Devil. Or something. It has no driver (how anyone knows this despite it's opaque windowsoh wait....) and no door handles, and it's bullet proof. Yes, even its tires.

You ever see that episode of Futurama where Bender turns into a were-car? That's this movie. It honks. Exactly like the Bender-car does. And looks pretty similar, too.
Seriously, compare this with the Bender-car.
 If by this point you're thinking, “Gee this sounds a lot like Christine...”, you're right on. Stupid rip-offs are stupid, but also sometimes fun! This one's definitely pretty stupid but I think it's self-seriousness reaches that delicious mixture of absurd.

And you can't forget about that honking. It's kind of hilarious. A little ominous (sounds a bit like an 18-wheeler, but, no, it's just a car), but really just kind of goofy. I'm pretty sure it's the movie's signature touch. That and how ever shot of the car's perspective--through it's windshield--is barbecue sauce colored.



My first reaction, after it menaces and eventually drives a pair of lovebird bikers over a cliff in the opening scene, was “So it's really only a threat to pedestrians and bikers, and then pretty much only around cliffs...?”.
Catch my cum!

Indeed. Granted, the car proves itself to be more of a threat than that (side flipping/rolling over a pair of police cars apparently makes them 'splode), but still...it's pretty stupid. 

I guess it does have some...er, substanceyness. A car is already pedestrians' & cyclists' natural enemy. In this case, it actually wants to prey on them. And it's indestructible. (Personally, everytime I walk or bike somewhere, I already feel like the cars are all out to get me. This movie doesn't really help much with that.)

Ultimately, it's menace is undercut by the apparent, but typical, lack of logic onscreen. Naturally, it's amusing to shout at the onscreen pedestrians being chased, “Move! To the side. No, more sider-er. Dumb bitch, now you're dead.” but that only makes the "terror" more laughable. I'm pretty sure at least half the deaths in this movie could have been avoided if the chasees had actually ever tried to not get hit by the car.



The characters are kinda too good a mix to be true. And yet they are.
I think we should tell him we know about the viagra.
The main character has a mustache. Because it's the 70s, obviously. His girlfriend is kinda badassshe cusses out the car. His daughters are a promising occasion for inappropriate commentary for the attentive heckler. His boss, the sheriff, looks like fucking Hunter S. goddamn Thompson!, if he, you know, had a) kept more of his hair and b) actually won his bid in Aspen

There's also superstitious amerindians, wife-abusing hicks with dynamite (why not?), and starry-eyed/fuck-headed hippies (I consider those lovebirds in the opening scene to be hippie-esque). Let's not forget the full array of police force happenstance waiting to be preyed upon by cynical commentary.
The cast photo. Click to read my notes.
One thing that bugged me, though, was that alcoholic character. He's so...irrelevant. And they're doing it wrong. We only see him chug whiskey once, the puss. Later, he's ordered to call off the elementary school's parade rehearsal but, uh, turns out he was drunk at the time and forgot to. Hell, I even forgot he was supposed to do that too. 
Looks like someone shoulda called his sponsor....

Ultimately, he puts all the pieces together—raw superstition and an alcoholic's intuition save the day. Actually he doesnt, his figuring out the bit about it being the devil has little if no bearing on the plot or conclusion. At all. More of an unnecessary retrograde explanation. Gee, thanks, I really needed to understand that. Stupid drunk, should get off his ass and make himself useful. Pfft.



That reminds me though. You know how I mentioned a parade rehearsal Drunky-Flunky was supposed to call off?

Yes.

Children. Outdoors. On a (horse?) track. With doughy maternal teacher types. Making bad music. Also, horses. And more children. And an evil people-hating/-hunting car on the loose. 

Yes. This is really happening. And it's pretty goddamn glorious.

Run, goddamn you! Ruuuuun!

Another scene that stood out was when the car kills this one lady. I was actually very impressed by it; it had some actual impact. Partly because she's sobbing in—well acted—hysterics on the phone as the car speeds towards the picture window behind her, unawares,—and then through it! Dude! That's fucking bad ass! Also, it amps up the car's otherwise laughable menace. It can get you in the safety of your own living room!!!



I actually like half-decent bad movies, especially when they give such plenty of opportunity for lulz.

Sure, there are those films that are so goddamn awful you can't help but laugh your ass off at their absurd awfulness. But this isn't that kind. For one, The Car is actually probably watchable by the general public. They might not love it if they can't laugh at it like we do, but they prolly wouldn't gripe too badly either.

So it's viewable. If you have friends that love bad movies and friends that don't love bad movies as much, you can probably get them all together and actually have a good time of it.

At the same time, The Car offers a healthy helping of hilarity. It's no The Room, but it's got its own, gentle absurdness, and even novice hecklers could prolly make good on it.

Besides that, it's memorable. A stupid premise that does some work to make itself slightly less stupid; “good” characters; good pacing and effects.... And of course, who can forget a horde of screaming children running from a honking devil car? Priceless.

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