On May 6th “The Car” was re-released on DVD and even though it’s not as well made as other satanically themed 70’s films like “”The Exorcist” or “”The Omen” it does have something they don’t: Satan coming to Earth in the guise of a black two door coupe and terrorizing a small desert town in Utah.
Holy shit, can you even imagine how high the people who greenlit this must have been? It’s the ultimate retarded mixing of two popular genres: films about Satan and films about cars. (As a matter of fact both “”Smokey & The Bandit” and “”The Car” were distributed by Universal Studios and both were released within a week of each other.) As silly as it sounds though, everything is played totally straight, which is the perfect tone for the film and what helps it be more than just a dumb cult flick. It’s easy to turn something like this into a parody, much harder to convince the audience of its authenticity. The car was directed by Elliot Silverstein, the same guy who did Cat Ballou and A Man Called Horse. The score is by Leonard Rosenman, who did won an Academy Award for his work in Barry Lyndon. The screenplay is written by two of the same guys who also wrote “”The Gauntlet” and “”Pale Rider”. Lastly, it stars James Brolin as the local Sherrif who has to deal with the destruction caused by the automobile from Hell. Brolin at the time was riding at what was arguably the height of his career. He’d just ended Marcus Welby M.D., had been in the uber-successful Westworld and was just about to make “”Capricorn One” and “”The Amityville Horror”.
Hey, on paper it works! It’s not quite as good in practice, but meh”¦ it’s still a more than worthwhile way to spend two hours of your life.
Apparently it’s been remastered, which is rather pointless since it’s a 1970’s drive in horror movie set in the Utah desert; lots of tans and oranges and yellows with the occasional yellow-orange tan color to spice things up a bit. If anything the previous releases’ grit and imperfections on the negative gave it a cool “Grindhouse” look. Extras? Um, do subtitles count? Unless I’m mistaken, and I’ve looked on iMDB and Amazon for info, there’s nothing here not even a trailer. So, as much as I hate to say it, don’t buy the new DVD because 14.99$ is way too goddamn much for just the fucking film no matter how incredibly neat it is. For five dollars less you could have either the collector’s edition of Duel or the special edition of Christine; both of which are loaded with extras and will fulfill any “”evil car” needs. Shame on Universal for giving us such a crap presentation.
I’m really bummed that I can’t quite recommend this release since “”The Car” is one of those movies that fans of 70’s cinema should see. I love this film. If for no other reason than because I admire its massive titanium balls. There’s just something about a movie that takes itself seriously while totally eschewing realism that makes it admirable. Too many modern films today try to be “real”, and in doing so fail because they paint themselves into a literary corner that’s impossible to get out of unless you admit to yourself that all fiction is by its very nature highly improbable, so you might as well just take the hit, write the scene even though you know it couldn’t possibly happen, and hope the audience doesn’t notice. There’s no other way.
I already have the car on VHS and see no real reason to buy it on DVD right now and this new thing has not convinced me in the least. Maybe one day when the tape breaks, I dunno.
So what’s my final word? Well, if you’ve never seen this, you gotta see it. How can you carry a coherent conversation about James Brolin, amazing beards, and/or 70’s satanic movies without ever having your mind raped by The Car?
My advice? Either rent or try to find a nice used Anchor Bay VHS or DVD release on eBay. That’d be easier on your wallet and have equally nonexistent extras while looking appropriately grittier to boot. Not to mention that Car is one of those films that you really really enjoy, but only in small doses. So even if it’s a must see, it’s not a must own.
One last thing: SPACED is coming to Region 1 DVD! If you haven’t seen it, what the fuck are you doing reading Film Treat you twats? It’s basically Shaun of the Dead without zombies and with a Three’s Company vibe. Having grown up watching British TV comedies on PBS like Red Dwarf, Fawlty Towers, Flying Circus, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (the TV miniseries, not the surprisingly good but not very British at all film) Young Ones and Bottom, I dug it a lot. It’s an extension of those while being its own thing. If you’ve never seen it, well call me Recommendy McFagface because I’m recommending that you watch it. I watched all 24 episodes in one sitting and by the end was totally won over by the show. The R1 box set (coming out July 22nd) will have a new commentary by Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Jessica Hynes with special guests Quentin Tarantino, Kevin Smith, Bill Hader, Matt Stone, Patton Oswalt, and Diablo Cody. (Diablo Cody???) along with the extras (Original commentaries, the “Skip to the End” documentary, outtakes, deleted scenes, and raw footage) from the Region 2 release.
Posted on May 13, 2008 in Blogs by Jeremy Knox
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