DECEMBER 8, 2010
I'm not the biggest fan of J-horror films about revenge-seeking long haired ghost girls, but I can usually enjoy them as forgettable entertainment, and even really like a few (Ringu, The Eye 2), but Killer Car is a total waste of time. Hell, it doesn't even have an IMDb page! You can find my birthday on IMDb, but not the basic info about this movie. That pretty much sums up its worth, I think.
(March 4th 1980, by the way.)
The biggest problem is that even at 72 minutes (the DVD case promises 93, though I think they counted the 20+ minute making of featurette), it's overly padded and repetitive. The movie begins with an overlong torture/kill scene and then shifts to an even longer scene of the protagonists just driving around as we listen to lousy music. I'd say we're past the ten minute mark before anything of value is said or done. I couldn't even tell you what their names were by this point and the movie's almost a quarter over! There's a difference between a slow build and aimlessness, and this movie clearly falls into the latter category.
It also makes the fatal mistake of deliberately referencing and even comparing itself to Texas Chain Saw Massacre. The van has five kids (one of whom is in a wheelchair), and a 6th is picked up, and before long he is saying "this is like that horror movie", acknowledging the wheelchair similarity and claiming that he must be the crazy one with a razor. It's always a risk to intentionally remind a modern horror audience of an older movie, because a lot of them are uneducated and thus will just be confused (especially since no one had a wheelchair in the remake), but it's even MORE of a bad call to name drop one of the all time classics.
Especially when, if anything, the movie feels like Five Across The Eyes more than anything else (hardly the best movie to model oneself after either), as both films are poorly shot messes set primarily (well, ENTIRELY in 5XTE's case) in minivans. But that movie was hard to decipher due to the fact that everyone was constantly shrieking over one another. Here the problem is a typically borderline incoherent J-horror revenge story combined with way below average subtitling, which offers odd substitutions for common phrases ("How come?" is used when "What is he doing?" would be more appropriate) and full blown nonsense for other scenes, such as when one of the heroines asks "Are you alive?" to a friend who clearly is, in fact, alive. Unless she meant it in a metaphorical way, in which case the movie is a failure for entirely different reasons.
If it has one saving grace, it is the fact that it at least offers up some decent gore for the kills, including a pretty funny beheading by car door. In more capable hands, the idea of crossing a Grudge/Shutter-esque "ghost seeks revenge" movie with Friday the 13th style kills would make for a pretty kick-ass movie, but this is most certainly not it. Also, again, it's only 72 minutes, so once it gets going, you're never more than a few minutes away from another scare/kill scene. Repetitive and padded it may be, but at least it doesn't save everything for the end.
In the time that someone should have spent giving the film an IMDb page, a "making of" was assembled, providing the disc with the only feature of note. It's just as annoying and padded as the movie itself, with 90% of it devoted to footage of the actors goofing off and "bonding" en route to set (via 5th grade-style "I hear you like so and so" nonsense, usually). Each actor also talks about his or her role, which is as dull as it always is but kind of interesting due to the fact that every single one of them mentions that they don't like horror movies. Hilariously, even the editor found them boring, cutting away from one actor mid sentence and putting up a graphic saying "and then he continued to bore us with his story". The editor also tried to spice it up a bit by using every single wipe/transition at his disposal, including star wipes (!). I also like that it was shot with what seemed like the same camera they used to shoot the movie.
Speaking of which, I was sort of charmed by the cheap feel of it, because I think it's the first time I've seen this sort of thing sporting a DIY feel. Like, I've seen plenty of "backyard" slasher and Hostel wannabes, and even a few haunted house tales, but this is the first time I've seen a J-horror film that would fit in well with the offerings on the Decrepit Crypt set. So that's cool; good to know that our Eastern brothers have that "Hey I can make one of these too!" attitude.
If you're a die hard fan of these things you might want to give it a look, but if you're like me and have seen enough generic long haired girls seeking revenge in the least efficient manner possible (haunting a car and hoping the guy who killed her would end up in it again? Only thing dumber is the fact that it worked) to last you a while, it certainly won't renew your enthusiasm. For completists only.
What say you?