A Yale university student, his younger brother and his best
friend visit a roadhouse to celebrate the end of an era. Two
have sexual liaisons, but when the third is involved in a
fight, the trio are forced to make a sharp exit. A black cadillac
toys with them on the road and leads the unwitting young men
deeper into woodland roads, until they are hopelessly lost.
They pick up a policeman whose car has broken down, but when
the man appears unconcerned by events they realise that the
cadillac driver might be after the cop. Leaving him on the
side of the road, they see him shot by the unseen assailant.
But the cadillac keeps coming...
This is yet another teen flick riding on the success of Scream
and I Know What You Did Last Summer, although in this
case there's no Ghostface or Fisherman. In fact, the car is
worn like a costume, rendering the perpetrator invisible until
the end of the movie. It works here rather like the Scooby-Doo
premise: hardly anyone else is seen throughout the story,
and yet it still comes as a surprise when Mr Jenkins, the
abandoned amusement park caretaker, is unmasked as the monster.
It has to be done this way though, because a previously unknown
villain would have no impact on the plot.
horror movie classic, Halloween, has a lot to answer
for. Nowadays, nobody stays dead for very long. Customised
1950s cadillac it may be, but even this car leads a charmed
life. Having struck a dead cow, it drives off the road, impacts
with a pitted slope and rattles its way down on to a frozen
lake. No broken suspension, no sheared engine mountings, no
punctures, it didn't even scrape the paintwork. The engine
simply restarts, and off it drives as if nothing has happened.
Yet there is no supernatural element to the car. I think the
director must have enjoyed playing car computer games with
the damage control turned off.
often in these lower status films there is a half-hearted
attempt to raise a dark phobia from a key character's psyche,
which is seldom played out to its full potential. This is
also the case here. Use Duel as a comparison. We know
next to nothing about Dennis Weaver's character, but his reactions
of nervousness, unadulterated panic and sheer relief are totally
convincing. A cop-out need to tie everything up into a neat
little package doesn't necessarily turn a hack into Shakespeare.
It usually has the opposite effect. In other words, it's better
to allow your characters to come to life, rather than force
attitude or back story into them sideways.
in all, this is average fair. There's very little suspense,
and no character sympathy, but it does somehow generate enough
interest to keep you watching.