Image by Hello, Its Me..... from Pixabay
The great thing about Halloween is that it gives you permission to scare yourself. That’s the reason for the season: it’s looking at the dying of the harvest and the coming of winter and facing death in a small way, so that we can keep up our spirits for the ride in front of us.
After the horror of 9/11, comedy was hitting flat and people were looking for something to bring themselves out of the numb feeling of horror, after realizing, yes, it could happen here. Audiences flocked to see Jeepers Creepers, a film about two siblings encountering a cryptid on the open road in his 1940’s Chevy COE truck. The Halloween season reminds us of the fun of a great horror movie to activate our fears and let us release the tension.
Over the years, we’ve witnessed a number of ‘haunted vehicle’ films. From the poorly conceived to the sublime, a murderous car is both thrilling and laughably ludicrous. It hits just the right spot: too bananas to be real, but horrifying if it ever did happen.
Here’s a list of five of the very best ‘haunted vehicle’ films ever made:
Released a few years after Christine, this film featured all of the world’s machines coming to life and trying to murder humanity. It’s best remembered for two reasons: Stephen King wrote and directed it, which still amuses and shames him, and for one pivotal scene with a screaming waitress who tries to put the aggressive vehicles in their place by hysterically asserting, “We made you!”
It’s not the whole car seeing murderous revenge in this case. It’s a single steel-walled rubber tire. This film effectively murdered the trope of haunted cars forever in a truly inspired way! I won’t give out any more plot– Rubber is a ‘you have to see it for yourself’ experience.
This story of a possessed black Lincoln Towncar came out a few years after Jaws and was meant to bring the feeling of a shark attack to the hills of the Pacific coastline. It did a great job with a hapless ten-speed bicyclist caught in its crosshairs.
This is not about a haunted car, but we’re including it here because it has a much more plausible horror: road rage from a truck! Although we never really get to know the trucker hunting our protagonist down, we get to know things about him by his aggressive tanker truck, hunting down poor milktoast Dennis Weaver. One of Stephen Spielberg’s first films and a great teaser for what he’d do with Peter Benchley’s Jaws.
Based on Stephen King’s horror novel. This is arguably the best of the bunch for the way it links people to their cars– in this case, even after death. A self-repairing, vicious Plymouth Fury named Christine finds love in the fifties with an average man. But the car is jealous and the relationship is toxic, and Christine isolates the man, trapping his soul in her leather interior.
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