The Car (1977) : Blu Ray Review

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This unusual genre film passed me by when released and the numerous times it has been on TV (Terribly Pan and Scanned!) and to me it looked and sounded like a low budget, badly acted horror hybrid but after watching Arrow Video’s fabulous presentation i was very wrong. I suppose to sum it up, Jaws on wheels would be a good description of The Car and funny enough Steven Spielberg did a very similar themed TV movie called Duel in 1971.

When two teenage cyclists and a hitch-hiker are killed in apparently deliberate hit-and-runs, the police department of Santa Ynez investigates, whereupon the seemingly driver-less vehicle turns and kills a number of officers as well. And when the car strikes rather too close to the home of Captain Wade Parent (James Brolin), he vows to stop at nothing to defeat it. Simple, silly  premise done very well by director Elliot Silverstein with fabulous panoramic scenic shots shown brilliantly in this remastered widescreen version.  The acting is good for this type of film, James Brolin gives a great performance as the sheriff, terrified but willing to go all out to stop the car. A very enjoyable horror romp, the car itself is well designed and is shown in quick cuts to enhance the menace.

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The Blu ray  by Arrow is another winner, the remastered 1080p transfer is superb, with a little grain in the picture it shows off the vastness of the desert and mountain landscape to great effect with bold colours and even small details on the screen are seen clearly. Sound is also solid and clear, the music score standing out especially.

Extra’s are an audio commentary by director Elliot Silverstein moderated by Calum Waddell.  Sadly the director seems bored with the process and Calum has to keep probing to get information about the film etc, a real shame. Much better is a 30 minute interview with The Car’s special effects technician William Aldridge who goes into detail about the shoot and the difficulties involved filming and doing stunts in the desert heat.  There is a ten-minute interview with John Rubenstein, who plays the doomed hiker, Johnny Norris, short but interesting.  Finally there are two trailers, the first the normal theatrical and second the trailer from the website Trailers From Hell (If you don’t know it, its a must visit at http://trailersfromhell.com/) in which director John Landis give his very funny overview (he does not like the film much!) while the trailer plays in the background. A nice little bonus. Finally the full retail copy will sport a reversible sleeve and a collector’s booklet that contains new writing on the film by Cullen Gallagher and an interview with its co-writer Michael Butler.

FILM: 6 OUT OF 10

 PICTURE: 8.5 OUT OF 10

 SOUND: 7 OUT OF 10

 EXTRAS: 6 OUT OF 10