NOVEMBER 28, 2008
Kiefer Sutherland can quit 24 and make nothing but shit movies for the rest of his career, and I would still respect him forever due to his response at the Mirrors press conference when someone asked what movies scared him and the other cast/crew. Usually, A-listers seemingly grew up in a world where the only horror movies are The Exorcist, Rosemary’s Baby, and The Shining, but Kiefer said that The Car scared him the most as a kid. Not that I doubt that those other movies really are the scariest some folks have ever seen*, but it just seems like such a stock answer since it’s literally ALWAYS one of those whenever a big star is queried. So kudos, herr Bauer, for having the gravitas to be honest, and show a little personality in your response.
(For the record, Amy Smart and Alex Aja both said The Shining).
In one of my first trips to the New Bev, Charles Band himself screened a print of his movie Crash! (not to be confused with Cronenberg’s not that good movie, or the horrendous and godawful piece of shit Paul Haggis film), which was a killer car movie in which the car would kill a cop car every 5-10 minutes, regardless of what else was going on in the movie (which, to be fair, wasn’t much). So as I was watching The Car, I began to wonder if Band’s film was a quickie cashin response to this one, much like a lot of the late 80s/early 90s Full Moon movies (Hollywood has Chucky, Band has Demonic Toys!). But I was wrong! According to the IMDb, Band’s film was released four months before it. I suppose he could have read a trade announcement about the film and got his done sooner, but let’s give him the benefit of the doubt.
Besides, his movie was missing one crucial ingredient: JAMES BROLIN. Specifically, his moustache. The movie would be a lot of fun even without him, but Brolin elevates it into near-classic territory with his straight delivery. You might expect an actor to ham it out the entire time when dealing with this particular concept, but nope. You almost buy it as a serious storyline thanks to Brolin’s no-nonsense performance (not counting his goofy introduction, in which he tries to convince his girlfriend that eight minutes is more than enough time for lovemaking before work. Smooth.).
That introduction actually kind of fits with the rest of the movie, which is more than just a little “off”. Characters are introduced awkwardly, people say odd things, and bizarrely melodramatic subplots are tossed in, seemingly to make the movie feel less B-movie-ish, but just distract and inadvertently seem as odd as everything else. How else to explain Ronny Cox’s drinking problem, which leads to a honest to goodness “For your consideration” crying scene? But back to the dialogue – it’s worth noting that the car’s antics aren’t even the funniest things in the movie. An old lady yells “Cat poo!” after the car is scared off by a graveyard; Brolin’s daughter responds to his inquiries about him re-marrying with “Do you like it when I cook?” (it comes off like she is offering to take the wife position herself); and best of all, an old jerk sees a guy sitting outside of his house and demands “What the hell ARE you?”, without any respect for proper pronoun usage or traditional verb emphasis.
The old guy also mentions something about his “dynamite truck”, which would have been even funnier if it wasn’t just the most glaringly obvious foreshadowing this side of Cathy’s Curse. I love movie logic – the car can’t be dented with other cars, the tires can’t be shot out with a .357 at close range, etc. So why is dynamite any different? Ah, who the hell cares.
One can’t help but notice the similarities to Jaws in the film. A teen dies first, there’s a big annual town to-do that the monster disrupts (and no one wants to call it off because of the threat), a lot of POV shots, and our finale features a bunch of guys banding together to take it out with a plan that involves human bait. The key difference (well, besides the slight difference in overall quality, but come on) is that for whatever reason, writer Michael Butler can’t bring himself to kill anyone off during the finale. Even the dynamite truck owner, who is a drunken abuser of his wife, is spared. Yet, Brolin’s kindly girlfriend gets utterly annihilated at the end of the 2nd act, which is a great twist but still rather mean-spirited, compared to the rest of the movie.
I really hope this movie gets shown at the Bev someday. It’s too fantastic a film to watch at home with just one or two people. I also hope that the DVD gets double-dipped, since the existing one offers a trailer and absolutely nothing else (not even a chapter menu, which is almost unheard of outside of David Lynch movies). I bet Brolin can do a great commentary.
One final note – one of Brolin’s daughters is played by Kyle Richards, forever known as Lindsay Wallace and/or the vanilla twist loving plot device in Assault on Precinct 13. And according to her IMDb photo, she is incredibly fucking hot now.
What say you?
*If I was going to be honest, the "scariest" movies ever made are Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter and Halloween 5, because those are the only movies I was too scared to watch by myself when I was 10 or so. If I was the star of a big budget studio movie and being told to suppress my personality, I’d go with Halloween or Blair Witch.