THE CAR (1977): Demonic Vehicle Vehicle Barrel-Rolls Onto Blu-ray

The Car careens onto Blu-ray on December 15 from Scream Factory.

After the success of Jaws, Universal set out to ape the success of their summer blockbuster with another picture that was thematically “Jaws on land”.

After a string hit and run deaths, a sinister-looking, large black car is identified as the culprit and the police officers of a rural Utah town, including James Brolin and Ronny Cox, set out to stop the murderous driver. But as the body count increases and further encounters takes on increasingly eerie tones, they realize that there doesn’t seem to be a driver at all… just The Car.

The poster for The Car entices the audience with the tagline, “Is it a phantom, a demon, or the devil itself?”, though I’m not sure if even the film’s director or writers actually knew the answer. My own best guess is that it’s the prequel to Pixar’s Cars franchise. Makes sense.

Ultimately a “killer car” is an inherently silly concept, but to its credit The Car plays it straight. The actors react believably, with the right sort of incredulity and exasperation at their situation, and there’s some really impressive stunt work at play, including a pretty darn incredible scene in which The Car hurls itself sideways in a barrel roll at a pair of police vehicles as they try to overtake it.

One of the film’s best aspects is the design of the car itself, a modified Lincoln Continental Mark III designed by legendary customizer George Barris. Reworked with dark tinted windows and stripped of human-serving conveniences like door latches, the vehicle manages to be a menacing presence. Barris is also the creator of many famous Hollywood cars including the 1960s Batmobile. He just recently passed away, on November 5, 2015, so it’s nice to see his work remembered.

Also worthy of praise is the film’s sound. The score is suitably suspenseful, and a great deal of the car’s scariness comes from its sound: the massive roar of its engine and constantly honking horn go a long way to delivering a sense of anger, violence, and menace.

The Car is an average sort of old-fashioned horror movie, and while it’s frankly not that great, it does fill a special niche of thrilling but non-gruesome “PG horror” that’s accessible to general audiences. This could be a particularly fun one for young horror fans who are looking to get spooked — but not too much.

The Package

This Scream Factory edition includes new interviews and a cover illustration by Justin Osborne in lieu of classic artwork (this is not a reversible cover like some other Scream Factory releases). The film is rated PG.

Special Features and Extras

Interview with Director Elliot Silverstein (9:16)
 “Mystery Of the Car with Elliot Silverstein”. Elliot describes the film as more of a job than personal project; the studio wanted to do “Jaws on land”. He discusses some of the film’s challenges and generally seems pretty humble about its quality.

Interview with Actress Geraldine Keams (12:10)
 “The Navajo Connection with Geraldine Keams”. Navajo actress Geraldine Keams discusses the film’s Navajo characters and her appreciation for the director’s authentic approach to the language.

Interview with Actress Melody Thomas Scott (11:52)
 “Just Like Riding a Bike with Melody Thomas Scott”. The Car’s first victim, who has a small role, talks about the difficulty of her role’s physicality and Elliot Silverstein’s irritability while shooting.

Theatrical Trailer (2:15)
 A fun trailer but in rather poor quality — significant combing is evident in the picture.

TV Spot (0:34)

Radio Spots (3:09)

Still Gallery (10:32)


The Car isn’t particularly great or even good, but it does help fill a necessary niche for family-friendly horror films. Younger viewers may relish the chance to watch a scary movie while grownups will probably find it campy. Silly but fun.

A/V Out.

Get it at Amazon:
 [Blu-ray] | [DVD]

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