• Welcome to my Movie Journal

    This is my attempt at keeping a journal of movies that I watch and my thoughts and experiences. This is, first and foremost, for my own personal gratification…although putting it online makes is a “bit” less personal. A few things to mention if you are going to be reading anything that I write: ............................................................ This is not a strict movie review blog…this is me capturing thoughts, etc. many of which may not even be coherent, so I apologize. ............................................................ This is a journal that I am writing for me so I am not hiding the fact that there most likely ARE SPOILERS included in the posts…I am not reviewing for an audience per se, but capturing thoughts and ideas that come out of seeing the movie... ............................................................ My ratings systems are somewhat arbitrary…more a generic scale to record my feeling on the movie…it isn’t necessarily strictly a comparison between all of the movies that I watch. I find that it is difficult to directly compare films anyway and can be silly when you're looking at different genres. Citizen Kane vs Annie Hall vs Halloween (’78) vs Once Upon a Time in China….hmmmm…. I TRY TO JUDGE A FILM ON ITS OWN MERIT FIRST, AND THEN PUT IT INTO CONTEXT WITH OTHER MOVIES ............................................................ My goal is not to pick on movies…well, unless they are really terrible... The Good Bad and Wonky items are more for fun than anything else, and just because I laugh at a movie or make fun of something doesn’t mean I don’t like it… ............................................................ I hope that this glimpse into my head (again, sorry) is somewhat entertaining for those of you who care to stop by, and if nothing else, will help to generate film discussion, or discussion in general, because that’s part of what makes life fun. Thanks for stopping in, ENJOY KZ
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THE CAR (1977)

DATE: 8/2 to 8/3/2008   FIRST VIEWING

WHERE: at home, DVD from Four Star Video Heaven…with Bryan.

This is my first time joining in on the Final Girl Film Club viewing…I’ve been meaning to become a “coolie” for a while, but have always missed it.  This film was the perfect opportunity.  Long ago…I remember this showing on network TV one weekend night while I was growing up.  I was somewhere around 10, and was already a horror junkie.  I saw promos for THE CAR, and asked mom and dad if I could stay up and watch it.  Turns out they were going out, and we were going to have our trusty babysitter (good ole Inez) watch my brothers and sister and I that night.  But they said it was ok…problem was…they never told Inez.  I get all set to plop down and watch the killer car movie, and Inez says “time for bed…”  but, but wait…THE CAR is on…mom and dad said…”yeah right”…oh crap!!!  So I get marched off to bed under protest…CRAP!!!

Luckily for me…Inez kept the channel on, and I commando crawled down the hall, into the living room, and then behind a chair, hoping that she wouldn’t change the channel…hoping that….BUSTED!!!  Inez caught me, of course, marched me off to bed again, where I stayed, awake, pouting, for the next hour and a half, when finally mom and dad come home.  I come rushing out to get into the debate as to whether or not they ACTUALLY DID say that I could watch this movie, and they said whoops yeah we did…so take THAT Inez…and I got to see the last 10 minutes.  First 10, last 10…and I had never taken the time to try and watch it start to finish…until now…

SYNOPSIS

In a small desert town, the residents are being terrorized by a black sedan that honks triumphantly when it causes mayhem, destruction, and death. The residents, led by the sheriff (James Brolin), must figure out who or what the car is, why it is out to kill people.  What does it want??  And just how can they stop this seemingly indestructible evil machine???

THE GOOD: red tinted windows view from inside THE CAR; some good technical achievements; the final showdown

THE BAD: Ronny Cox spends whole movie as a sad sack; blue screen effects; obvious sped up film

THE WONKY: “Cat Poo!!!”; most explosion prone cop cars EVER; Wade’s girlfriend has a painted portrait of him in her house; demon face in the fire

THOUGHTS

This movie was a lot of fun…cheesy as hell…but a lot of fun.  I can’t help but think, though, that if I had seen it when I was 10, it would have been some of the coolest shit I had ever seen.  The opening scene is pretty effective, concerning some bikers on a mountain road, and from then on you know that something bad is going down.  The car does its business and peels off down the road honking what sounds like a semi truck horn in rapid fire bursts that make it sound like it is laughing.  Sort of.  It is kind of a cool effect, at first, but gets used to death.  Oh, um, no pun intended.

The movie does a decent job of introducing characters that you sort of care to watch for a while.  We aren’t talking Shakespeare depth, but the main characters are fleshed out enough.  We are introduced to James Brolin in bed…and damned if he doesn’t look just like Josh Brolin in NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN.  A lot of times throughout the movie, he kinda looked like Christian Bale (REIGN OF FIRE Christian Bale…with the moustache)…weird.  It is soon after, that he drops the pearl of wisdom “Didja ever notice that you can’t brush your teeth without shaking your ass??”  Huh???  The dialogue remains deliciously cheesy througout…with a conversation about playing music from your ass (more ass talk?)…a policeman wistfully saying “she was the first…” to an old apparent flame that he went to high school with…Lauren’s fuming diatribe directed towards the car…and my favorite, the woman yelling “CAT POO!!!” while shaking her fist at the car.  If you turn the subtitles on, she apparently yells “Tadpole!!!!!” We re-watched that scene I don’t know how many times, and there is no way in hell she says tadpole.

The car terrorizes the town, and for the most part, this is all pretty decent.  The way that the first attack is edited and paced…with the bikers…kind of slow, and made me wonder how bad it might be.  The scene is effective, but I had the feeling that it wasn’t particularly tight for some reason.  Soon after the mayhem starts, though, the editing gets pretty good, and many of the scenes are fairly exciting.  Some occassional terrible matte effects (dude falling from his horse) take you out a little, but over all pretty good.  Some of the really nice technical stuff – the high speed tracking shot as the car races alongside the parade practice is impressive, camera work during some of the chases, and a lot of the shots were composed well too…big crowds spread out to frame the action, or to draw attention to the action (police station scenes) and some of the long distance camera work out in the mountains too.  Really helps to rise the film up above complete silliness.  Contrasting point:  Ronny Cox and some helpers are driving out to place dynamite in the mountains.  They are obviously in a fake truck cab, and are bouncing as hard as they can to give us the impression that they are driving on a bumpy road…much like a production of “The Music Man” that I was in, where the traveling salesmen on the train have to bounce on the set to tell the audience that they are on a train…I couldn’t help but laugh.

THOUGHT (w/SPOILERS)

So…we began wondering…why?  What the hell is the car doing?  My son and I came up with 3 possibilities:

A) the car is just evil, and here is it coming to get you.  OK, I’ll buy that, but why would evil choose to be a black sedan, especially with so much dirt and rock?  And is it really that terrifying?  Well, the cast would have you believe so…hmm….

B) the car hates music.  He runs down the guy playing french horn while hitchhiking.  I thought about doing that myself, but the car ups the ante, and backs over him like 4 times!  Then, it goes to town on the parade practice, bellbottomers poorly playing John Philip Sousa.  Lauren bites it because she was conducting, and playing the picillo earlier, and the bikers?  The guy kinda looked like Donny Osmond.  That’s most of the victims…the others…well, maybe chalk it up to rage over how bad that music was in the movie.

C) my favorite: the car was Wade’s dad.  Think about it.  He keeps looking at the picture of him in his room for one thing.  And old policeman…Lauren asks right away…”do you think your dad would have approved of me?”  “would he have had a choice??”  ouch.  Then the car starts terrorizing the roads that Wade patrols.  The bikers…(possibly) disobeying traffic laws.  Then he starts offing cops to get at Wade.  He swerves around the wife beater (???) to hit the old cop still hung up on his old girlfriend.  Everything he does is to get at Wade…he wants the parade practice cancelled…it wasn’t…THE CAR!!!  Blockades??  THE CAR!!!  With the best stunt in the movie, the barrel roll over the 2 cars to blow them up.  Brilliant.  He leaves Wade alone, just knocks him down with the door…to meet him again.  Then he goes after and kills his fiance…by driving THROUGH her window…awesome…I guess he DIDN’T approve…he then comes to his house and gets into the garage??  Big showdown comes…the son has earned the right to police the roads.

Although, there is the demonic claw and ridiculous face in the explosion…and then car tires over the credits…suggesting that it lives on to run down fools another day…yeah…evil would have red tinted windows.  And Wade IS reading the Bible right before the final showdown…..hmm…..

END SPOILERS

I really enjoyed this movie (my son did too).  For a sub-genre as ridiculous as killer cars…this was pretty decent.  Was it worth waiting over 20 years to see?  Sure.  How many times are you gonna get to see people run over by a killer sedan?  Not sure…but if it’s as cool as the double barrel roll explosion…I’m in for more.  It was great to relive this part of my childhood, and share the story (and movie) with my son.  Killer car…bringing families closer together.  sigh…honkhonkhonkhonkhonkhonkhonkhonkhonk!!!!!!!!  Good stuff.

6.5 out of 10

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One Response

  1. Love the “Car = Wade’s Dad” theory. That one never occurred to me, and it’s a lot better than Indian burial grounds.

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