Written by: Michael Den Boer on August 15th, 2013
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1977
Director: Elliot Silverstein
Writers: Michael Butler, Dennis Shryack, Lane Slate
Cast: James Brolin, Kathleen Lloyd, John Marley, R.G. Armstrong, John Rubinstein, Elizabeth Thompson, Roy Jenson, Kim Richards, Kyle Richards
BluRay released: July 15th, 2013
Approximate running times: 96 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive
Rating: 18 (UK)
Sound: DTS-HD Mono English
Subtitles: English SDH
BluRay Release: Arrow Video
Region Coding: Region B / Region 2 PAL
Retail Price: £13.99
The Car was directed by Elliot Silverstein who’s other notable film’s include Cat Ballou and The Happening. Key collaborators on The Car include cinematographer Gerald Hirschfeld (Cotton Comes to Harlem, Young Frankenstein) and composer Leonard Rosenman (Rebel Without a Cause, The Jazz Singer).
The Car was made at the tail end of the 1970’s during an era when the killer was often an object like a car or animal. And just a year after its release the horror genre would begin yet another one of its inevitable shifts with the release of Halloween.
While watching this film the things that kept lingering in my mind was i could not believe that this film’s was produced for and given a actual theatrical release. Since it fits in perfectly with the killer creature feature’s ‘movie of the week’ that were in high demand during this era. With that being said, whatever thoughts I had running through my head while watching this film and now that I think back upon it cannot take away the enormous amount of fun I had watching this film.
For me one of the most frightening aspects of the horror genre is not what one sees, but what one’s mind thinks it sees. And in the case of The Car, the who’s and why’s are kept well under wraps until its explosive finale. And even then the answer it not set 100% in stone. And it is this kind of ambiguity that ends up being this film’s most enduring asset.
From a production stand point, the in not a single area I would change. Direction / visuals are solid throughout. Also film is wonderfully paced as each new boo moment is spread out just enough to maxim its effect.
Performance wise one would be hard pressed to fault any of the cast as they are after all pursing a killer car. Without a doubt the most entertaining performance comes from James Brolin (Westworld) in the role of a the sheriff who finds himself in charge of the task of stopping a killer car.
Another performance of note is R.G. Armstrong (My Name is Nobody) in the role of an alcoholic who abuses his wife. Though this character is the one most devoid of any sympathy in the film. In the end this characters plays a huge role is this film’s climatic final showdown between the car and the townspeople. Ultimately The Car is a highly entertaining movie that has languished in the shadows for far too long and it most definitely deserves to be as well known as other killer car films like Duel and Christine.
The Car comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive anamorphic widescreen. Colors and flesh tones look accurate, black and contrast levels look consistently good and details look crisp throughout. In all this is a very good transfer that is improvement over all previous releases of this film.
This release comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD Mono mix English and also included with this release are English SDH subtitles. The audio sounds clean, clear, balanced and robust when it needs too.
Extras for this release include a trailer for the film (2 minutes 4 seconds – anamorphic widescreen), John Landis ‘Trailers from Hell’ audio commentary for The Car’s trailer, two interviews, the first one titled ‘Hitchhike to Hell’ (10 minutes 16 seconds – anamorphic widescreen) with actor John Rubinstein and the second one titled ‘Making a Mechanical Monster’ (27 minutes 33 seconds – anamorphic widescreen) with special effects artist William Aldridge and an audio commentary with director Elliot Silverstein and moderator Calum Waddell. Other extras include a Easter egg extra which is a on camera interview with Elliot Silverstein. Both interviews are focused and filled with interesting information not only about The Car, but also other projects that each participant had also worked on. It should be noted that the audio commentary is not as focused as the two interviews which are included as part of this release. The moderator often comes off as unprepared and though there are a handful of interesting tidbits revealed throughout the audio commentary. Getting to these moments is going to be chore for the majority who listen to this audio commentary. Rounding out the extras is a reversible cover art and a booklet with a essay about the film written by Cullen Gallagher and a brand new interview with co-writer Michael Butler conducted by Calum Waddell. Overall The Car gets a first rate release from Arrow Video.