THE CAR (1977) Reviews and overview

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The Car is a 1977 American supernatural horror film directed by Elliot Silverstein (Nightmare Honeymoon) from a screenplay written by Michael Butler, Dennis Shryack and Lane Slate.

The movie stars James Brolin, Kathleen Lloyd, John Marley and Ronny Cox.


In the fictional Utah community of Santa Ynez, a mysterious black car is terrorising road users.

The police are called to the first of a series of hit and run deaths, apparently caused by the same car that appears heavily customized and has no license plate, making identification difficult. Sheriff Everett Peck (John Marley) gets a lead on the car when it is witnessed by Amos Clemens (R. G. Armstrong) after it runs over a hitchhiker.

After the car claims the sheriff as its fourth victim, it becomes the job of Captain Wade Parent (James Brolin) to stop the deaths. During the resulting investigation, an eyewitness to the accident states that there was no driver inside the vehicle…


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The supernatural elements are worked in quietly – the first hint we get that this might be more than just a crazy guy behind the wheel comes when the kids hide in a cemetery and the car is unable to follow them – because it’s consecrated ground. It’s a twist handled well, and thankfully the film avoids too much discussion of the demonic (and even more thankfully doesn’t have a car exorcist show up).

David Flint, MOVIES and MANIA


Other reviews:

“Even the dialogue-heavy scenes are entertaining to watch merely for the insane performances on display. I found myself grinning frequently while the filler scenes in between Car sightings kept me amused. And when you do get to see some Satanic auto-play, the score (which is a reworked orchestral version of Berlioz-Symphonie Fantastique) does a pretty good job of setting a sinister tone…”


“The script either needed a few more drafts or someone needed to be a bit more ruthless in the cutting room. On the plus side, the Utah locations look fabulous, and composer Leonard Rosenman makes similar use of the Dies Irae as he did when he scored Race with the Devil…” House of Mortal Cinema

“With its stunning Panavision desert-scapes, a Planet of the Apes-inspired Leonard Rosenman score, featuring a reworked, orchestral version of the Dies Irae Gregorian chant, and it even has a credit to Anton LaVey – how can you not love this Jaws on land offering?” Kultguy’s Keep

Image credit: VHS Archive





Cast and characters:

James Brolin … Captain Wade Parent
Kathleen Lloyd … Lauren Humphries
John Marley … Sheriff Everett Peck
Elizabeth Thompson … Margie
Ronny Cox … Deputy Lucas “Luke” Johnson
R. G. Armstrong … Amos Clemens
John Rubinstein … John Morris
Kim Richards … Lynn Marie Parent
Kyle Richards … Debbie Parent
Roy Jenson … Ray Mott
Kate Murtagh … Miss McDonald
Doris Dowling … Bertha Clemens
Eddie Little Sky … Denson
Lee McLaughlin … Marvin Fats

Filming locations:

St. George, Hurricane-LaVerkin Bridge, Zion, Kanab, Crazy Horse Canyon and Glen Canyon in Utah.

Film Facts:

The late Church of Satan leader Anton LaVey was given a “Technical Adviser” credit on the film. His quote: “Oh great brothers of the night who rideth upon the hot winds of hell, who dwelleth in the Devil’s lair; move and appear”, is given in the opening credits and is taken from the “Invocation of Destruction” in The Satanic Bible.

The film’s main theme, heard predominantly throughout, is a reworked, orchestral version of the Dies Irae, also used in The Screaming Skull (1958) and The Shining (1980).

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