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Cars That Kill – Not So Scary but Lots of Fun

Blogger Stacie Ponder’s horror columns appear every Wednesday.

Let’s get one thing clear up front: I’m not a “gearhead,” as the kids might say. I’m not into cars as a hobby, a status symbol or a sport. If you are, that’s cool, but in my opinion, cars are simply tools that serve a purpose, like screwdrivers and crimping irons. Cars get you from Point A to Point B in varying degrees of luxury and comfort, and that’s about it… unless, of course, we’re talking about scary movies. We all know that in the world of horror, cars hate you. We’ve all seen countless films where cars decide not to work at the precise moment that you really effing need them to, that moment when the mask-wearing, overall-sporting, pointy implement-wielding cookadook is about to make with the stab-stab.

What about movies featuring cars that aren’t satisfied to merely abandon you in your time of need, but rather the cars that must kill? Are they ever… well, are they ever scary? Better yet, does it matter? Honestly, I don’t think there’ll ever be a film featuring a killer car that’s going to leave me wide awake at night, terrified beyond all get-out with my blankets pulled up to my chin, wondering if that car I hear driving down my street is coming to kill me. Something tells me it’s just not gonna happen. Just because they’re not necessarily terrifying doesn’t make killer car movies any less fun, however.

Your pal and mine, MonsterFest columnist Scott Sigler recently touched upon Stephen King’s foray into the world of auto-horror, Christine.
You know the story — the nerd gets the car, the nerd and car fall in
love, the car gets jealous of the nerd’s friends and kills them… it’s
a tale as old as time. Scott hits the nail on the head with this one:
It’s a ridiculous idea, but it’s a blast to watch Christine go to town
on Arnie’s friends and enemies alike.

Other Terrors on Wheels
King wasn’t satisfied giving the world only one terror-on-wheels flick; No sir, he had to go and give the world Maximum Overdrive as well. Despite the fact that it’s based on a short story called “Trucks,” Maximum Overdrive
actually features all manner of machines coming to life with murderous
intent after the earth passes through the tail of a comet. If you
thought killer cars weren’t scary, boy, wait’ll you get a load of a
killer Coke machine! And yet, it’s all insanely entertaining in a “Why
am I watching this?” kind of way. A soundtrack chock full of AC/DC
doesn’t hurt, either.

It’s looking like King will unleash yet another killer car on the screen come 2009, when director Tobe Hooper brings us an adaptation of King’s From A Buick 8.
I’m hoping that eventually the venerable horror author will branch out
and try his hand at terrifying us all with the tale of a haunted Vespa
and the havoc it wreaks on a small town, after a fatherless boy buys it
from that creepy old scooter shop that just opened up. At the end,
we’ll learn that the Vespa is actually a giant spider, which the boy
will have to battle with nothing more than a slingshot and hope.

Wait, that would suck! Well, the end would… watching a Vespa run people over would be kind of awesome.

One of my favorite killer car movies, 1977’s The Car (wow, where did they get that
title?), finally gets a DVD release this week, and it’s really worth a
look. At long last, we can all thrill to the exploits of the
Satanmobile as it tools around a sleepy California desert town using
humans for speed bumps. Honestly, Satan goes about trying to… uh,
raise Hell on earth in some really ridiculous, impractical ways. He’s
sent a big black sedan out to do his bidding, he’s sent a German
Shepherd out to do his bidding (Devil Dog: Hound of Hell), and we’re all familiar with Damien, the young boy sent to do Satan’s bidding in The Omen. Quite frankly, Satan’s grand schemes are a bit of a disappointment.

Cars Used as Weapons
Now, I’ve been talking about cars with minds of their own here, and not
taking into account cars used as weapons and/or driven in a menacing
fashion by cuckoo nutsos. That’s a whole other category unto itself,
and one worth mentioning. From the faceless trucker in Duel to Michael Myers busting around Haddonfield in giant station wagon in Halloween ,
those guys are using cars the way I use cars — like tools. Of course,
I don’t use my car to harass salesmen in the desert or creepily spy on
nerdy babysitters — at least not often… anymore.

Hmm. It’s sort of a Catch-22, isn’t it? If I treat my car too much
like a mere tool, it could turn on me when I need it most, refusing to
start as the zombie horde approaches, say. But then, if I start
sweet-talking my ride a little too much, it could get all clingy and
needy and kill-y on me like Christine. What is there to do? Maybe it’s
high time I invested in a bike. Or a horse.


A fan of horror movies and scary stuff, Stacie Ponder started her blog Final Girl so she’d have a platform from which she could tell everyone that, say, Friday the 13th, Part 2 rules.  She leads a glamorous life, walking on the razor’s edge of danger and intrigue.

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