Thursday, August 16, 2018

Short Attention Span Review: The Car (1977)

Short Attention Span Review: The Car (1977)

The Car is a surreal horror film with a simple pitch that seemed destined to fail.  Honestly, I'm not sure how they got the picture financed.  It's basically Jaws in the desert with a mysterious black car filling in for a great white shark.  Where did it come from?  No one knows.  Is anyone behind the wheel?  No one knows.  Why is it preying on the unfortunate residents of the dull and dusty town of Santa Ynez?  You guessed it: no one knows.  Can this malevolent menace on four wheels be stopped?  James Brolin intends to find out.  Brolin was always a serviceable leading man, and I think The Car is one of his better efforts.  His grounded take on the determined sheriff in the eye of the storm is pivotal given the ridiculous nature of the picture.  He's not alone in this regard, as the cast as whole performs admirably, with Kathleen Lloyd deserving special praise while Ronny Cox also shines in a rare sympathetic role.  The effects are also worthwhile, and as it becomes clear the titular automobile is a supernatural vessel of death and destruction, The Car produces several stirring setpieces.  It's impressive how exciting and even how frightening portions of this picture are.  While I simply cannot fathom a vehicle constructed from these parts arriving on the scene as anything resembling a masterpiece, I must applaud director Elliot Silverstein and everyone involved for getting this weird horror flock to run as well as it does.  Masterpiece?  Surely not.  Cult classic?  Yes, it is certainly worthy of that status, and whether you enjoy it as much as I did or not, you'll likely be impressed with how well this unconventional premise is brought to life.

Final Grade: B+

Seldom has a single image done such a fine job of summarizing a motion picture.  This is The Car in a nutshell.

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