“The Car” charges onto Blu-ray courtesy of the high-definition savior of all “forgotten” horror gems known as Scream Factory. The 1977 low-budget shocker was obviously influenced by “Jaws” and spawned many copycats like Stephen King’s “Christine” and “Trucks.” Award-winning Director Elliott Silverstein (“The Twilight Zone,” “Tales from the Crypt”) crafts a startling tale featuring James Brolin gearing up to battle another demonic force in “The Amityville Horror” a couple of years later.
Two bicyclists are run down by a strange black car in the desert near a small town in Utah. But this is just the first in a series of hit-and-run murders. Sheriff Wade Parents (James Brolin) is called in to investigate, and his deputy, Everett (John Marley), is killed by the black sedan, which, some witnesses say, has no one behind its wheel. When “The Car” threatens a local school parade, the lives of the town's children and Wade's teacher girlfriend, Lauren (Kathleen Lloyd), are endangered.
Cinematographer Gerald Hirschfeld (“Young Frankenstein,” “Fail Safe”) does an incredible job of putting audiences in both the driver’s seat of “The Car” and in the shoes of its helpless victims. He has an eye for striking camera angles that help build up tension to a fever pitch. Hirschfeld’s craftsmanship is accentuated by the frantic editing of Michael McCroskey which sets the pace for much of the action and creates a sense of anxiety and helplessness as the car charges towards its target.
“The Car” is rated PG for violence and gore, profanity, adult situations, drinking and smoking, and frightening and intense scenes. Compared to today’s PG-13 movies, there’s nothing too shocking here. Most of the scares are in the build-ups and chase scenes as the metallic predator charges furiously at its prey.
Scream Factory’s “The Car” comes fully loaded with bonus material that will thrill both new and longtime fans of the film. New interviews with Director Elliot Silverstein and Actors Melody Thomas Scott and Geraldine Keams are included. A theatrical trailer, TV spot, and radio spots are also found. The Blu-ray debut contains a still gallery as well.
One bizarre side note for “The Car” is that filmmakers included a quote from Church of Satan leader Anton LaVey at the beginning of “The Car.” He’s also listed as a technical advisor for the movie. It’s obviously a gimmick to promote the movie at a time when the Satanic Panic movement was at it’s height and LaVey’s teachings were highly sensationalized. As a Christian, I could understand why the reading of a passage out of the Satanic Bible would be frowned upon. I’m sure it will cause many potential viewers from watching the film, too.
“The Car” is a surprisingly convincing horror film that will make you believe a possessed vehicle really could be stalking you around the corner. Imagine the suspense you felt as the shark quickly creeped up on someone in “Jaws.” Apply that to a 1971 Lincoln Continental Mark III black coupe honking loud as you do your best to pedal or run away in terror and you can imagine the sensation you’ll experience watching this cult classic.
"The Car" is available now on Blu-ray.