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Old 06-22-2004, 12:40 AM
Scored: 10
Views: 9,027
Default Car, The

Reviewer: Styx
Review Date: December 29, 1999

Released by: Anchor Bay Entertainment
Release date: 7/27/1999
MSRP: $24.98
Region 0, NTSC
Widescreen 2.35:1 | 16x9: Yes

Honk! Honk! The Car was Anchor Bay's first 16:9 release and showed that even an independent like Anchor Bay can crank out an excellent anamorphic transfer. As far as I'm concerned Anchor Bay is on their way to grabbing the crown of developers releasing cult horror films on DVD. This is no offense to Elite, Synapse or Roan, but Anchor Bay seems to know what we want and delivers it. By providing 16:9 transfers they've shown they want to release films in the best visual quality possible by not limiting themselves to sub standard 4:3 letterboxed transfers. Well, let's take a look at The Car.

The Story

inline Image Welcome to Santa Ynez! Famous for its long stretching canyons, desert heat and generally friendly residents, oh and don't forget the Demonic black Sedan that likes to run down people 4 or more times, flip over cop cars and honk its horn in a most obnoxious manner. Yes the fun never stops for Wade Parent (James Brolin), who's been giving out traffic tickets for the last ten years. Care free life is about to come to an end once "The Car" drives into this quiet mid western town and begins to run over innocent bystanders. As the death toll mounts the local authorities make frantic attempts to trap The Car and stop it.

inline Image However, after having a confrontation with the Devil on wheels, The Car proves to be indestructible and Wade and the other members of his police force are convinced they are dealing with something not of this Earth. After people close to Wade, including Sheriff Everett (John Marley), succumb to the Cars wrath, Wade and fellow police officer Luke (Ronnie Cox) and a town drunk Amos Clements (R.G Armstrong) become determined to stop it no matter what the cost. But what is The Car? Where did it come from? Most importantly, why is it on its murderous rampage?

inline Image The Car won't win any academy awards and is certainly a very "cult" film, but it somehow managed to garner a following even though its never been available on home video until now. Having never seen the film prior to this DVD, I was very interested in seeing it since many people seem to enjoy it. After seeing it I think it's cool, though flawed. First, the cinematography is surprisingly good, fully using the films setting and scenery to great effect. Shots are well composed and the car in particular is well photographed. The car itself is pretty good and is probably the one thing that keeps me interested.

There are some great moments with The Car, like at the parade rehearsal scene where the car bursts onto the road and we get a good look at it for the first time in the film. The acting is sub par and I'm surprised this is an actual studio film. The acting is pretty much at the level of a TV show and in fact there are times when this film feels like a "made for TV" movie. In terms of violence and mayhem, The Car certainly has its share but take a gander at the films rating (PG) and you should know what to expect, nothing graphic everything is mostly suggestive. I enjoyed The Car; there aren't that many films of this kind except for Christine, The Duel and...umm did I mention Christine? It is an effective film in some scenes, but fails in many others.

Image Quality

inline Image Anchor Bay presents The Car in its original theatrical ratio of 2.35:1 and is enhanced for 16:9 TVs. The Car looks excellent; the transfer is surprisingly clean with very little grain until the last two chapters of the film (more on that later). Detail is excellent, though a little soft in some shots, but you can definitely tell this is an anamorphic transfer due to the increased detail. Flesh tones are accurate though I noticed they appeared unnaturally reddish in one or two shots, but that's just nit picking. The colors are also vibrant and well defined especially bright colored clothing against the hot brown desert. Many of the landscapes are so beautifully clean they look like postcards.

The greens of the trees and leaves that are littered throughout the film are also very nice and natural. The blacks and nighttime scenes are solid with no breakup; noise or any visible compression related artifacts. That said the quality of the transfer drops a bit on chapter 27, which is the films finale. I didn't know what to make of this at first. How the rest of the film could look so awesome, but chapter 27 looked alittle weak. Generally there is a lot more grain and colors appear washed out. In the end I believe it's due to film stock/source material issues. A good example of this is to view the trailer that features scenes from chapter 27. If you notice those scenes in the trailer look worse than the actual film transfer on the DVD.

Overall this is a very good transfer of a film from 1977. It would have scored an A- if not for the slight drop in quality in the last 2 chapters.


Presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, the sound is excellent. The sometimes-ominous score sounds great and the sounds of the car's engine revving and humming are also very good. I couldn't help but notice the resemblance to this score and Stanley Kubrick's The Shining. They seem to both share the same title track. Overall this is a solid remix. A Dolby Digital 2.0 track is also provided

Supplemental Material

inline Image The Car DVD has a pretty thin selection of extras. Only a theatrical trailer, talent bios and scene selection made the cut. Perhaps the biggest extra is the fact that Anchor Bay decided to release the disc anamorphic - something that can't be said of many other independents releasing cult/horror films on DVD. At one time Roan Group was planning to release this film on laserdisc with intentions of recording a commentary with James Brolin and director Elliot Silverstein, but that fell through and so did the Laser release. Lucky for us though, Anchor Bay licensed the film from Universal for a VHS and DVD release.

Final Thoughts

Well having never seen the film before I must say I liked it. Even with its flaws I enjoyed watching The Car on screen and the film is made up of all those corny ingredients that make movies of this type great. The disc is great and excels where it counts which is film presentation. If you're a fan of this film by all means check it out. If you've never seen it before give it a rental it's a nice alternative to The Duel or Christine, but not quite as good in my opinion.


Image Quality - B+
Sound - B
Supplements - C

Technical Info.
  • Color
  • Rated PG
  • 1 Disc
  • 28 Chapter Stops
  • Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Dolby 2.0 Surround

  • Theatrical trailer
  • Talent Bios

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