Friday, July 26, 2019

Green Phoenix - The Car Review

On a Saturday a few years back, my family and I were watching MeTV, a Chicago-based television station specializing in classic television shows and movies. That night, I was introduced to a show which has quickly become a personal favorite.

Svengoolie is a hosted horror movie show, in the style of Elvira or Dr. Creep. The host, the titular Svengoolie, takes a comedic take on B-movie, classic horror, and science fiction movies. The show is an absolute blast and I highly recommend that you guys check out the show when you get the chance.

But the first time I ever came across Svengoolie, he was hosting a rather campy killer car movie from 1977.

  • Directed by Elliot Silverstein
  • Produced by Universal Studios
  • MPAA Rating: PG
  • Running Time: 98 Minutes



At some nameless small town in the Southwestern United States, a series of mysterious hit-and-runs brings the attention of the local sheriff. As he and his team investigate, they uncover that all the deaths center around a mysterious car that seems literally hell-bent on killing as many people as possible.



This movie is campy as hell, there is no way around that fact. I honestly can't call this film good in any capacity, but I do enjoy it all the same and it does possess some visual elements that are incredibly well performed and staged. The film is a fun popcorn flick, not high art, but that is absolutely fine.

VISUALS - 7/10

At first glance, The Car has all the appearances of your standard late 70s cheap horror flick. Very grainy film quality, heavy use of natural light and sound, and a general cheap feeling to the whole enterprise.

This assumption is not undeserved, as there are also moments where you can really see the low budget (such as the gravestones which wobble when people lean against or touch them). But there are also several moments and instances that are absolutely incredible and effects that either enjoyably bad or genuinely inspired.

The Car actually has one of my favorite film shots, and that scene alone is why I wanted to review this. Check this scene out...
HOW COOL IS THIS SCENE! I adore this long shot so much and it is so simple, yet so chilling and effective. For all the campy moments, its moments like this one that make The Car absolutely worth watching, especially if you are a fan of film-making.


The Car actually doesn't have all that much of a distinct soundtrack, as many 1970s era horror films tended to prefer natural sound and silence to instill their sense of dread and suspense. Despite this lack of music, there are some actually well done audio elements that contribute to the unique feeling of this film.

Above them all, the car's horn is an iconic piece to the film's sense of terror. It's volume and scale give it an otherworldly and almost demonic feel, which was absolutely the intended effect.

But even with such an notable piece of audio, the rest of the film is rather subdued when it comes to sound, with the dialog coming off as rather low quality. With that in mind, I can't rate the soundtrack any higher than below average.


James Brolin 2013 (cropped).jpg
The protagonist is played by James Brolin, father of Thanos
The characters are corpses in potentia. There is simply no way around it. For all the wonderfully stupid visuals and generic audio, the characters are complete non-entities, really only in existence to be something for the car to chase or kill.
Not even the main characters can escape the shallow sphere of characterization. I can't even remember their names if I am completely honest with you, and it really doesn't matter what their names are. Like most horror movies, the bad guy is far and away the best character.

With this mind, the empty shell of characters do their job well and the car kills them in fairly generic ways (it's a car, how else will it kill people?). Once again, generally below average.

STORY - 5/10

It's a killer car movie. For the vast majority of the film, it plays out exactly like you think it would. They try to act like the secrets behind the killer car are some great mystery to be uncovered, but its fairly obvious that its supposed to be some kind of demonic entity that simply seeks out the destruction of everyone around it.

Despite the relative predictability of the overall plot, there are some elements which are genuinely inspired and risks taken that I would never have seen coming (the scene mentioned above in VISUALS is particularly noteworthy, as you truly don't see it coming.

On the whole, the story is fairly average and predictable, while still managing to through in the occasional surprise and high-quality character death.


I cannot call this film high art. I can't even call this film good, to be honest. Below average is the best way I can think to look at this film. With the low quality visuals and audio that is expected from cheap 70s horror, an average but enjoyably stupid story concept, and characters that only exist to be cannon-fodder;  The Car is perhaps one of the best films to watch late at night with friends, when you all want to make fun of the stupid and cheer with the incredible.

  •  7/10
  • 3/10
  • 3/10
  • 5/10

 FINAL SCORE - 4.5/10

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