Horror fans needn’t look very hard to find lists devoted to slashers and final girls and soundtracks, but what about vehicles? Not only do I suspect, I am positive that there are other ones out there, but this is my first stab at it, so let’s just abide by the laws of the road, alright?
I’m not gonna lie, a car guy I am not. I can change a tire, know where the oil goes and can replenish my windshield washer fluid, but what I can’t do is identify muscle cars simply by listening to the distinctive sounds emanating from underneath their hoods.
That said, I do know badass when I see it, so let’s get behind the wheel, shall we?
Before we begin, though, my apologies for the absence of The Car, but that seemed a little too obvious. Not that any of these selections are really going to catch anyone off guard.
Alas, drivers…start your engines!
10. Volkswagen Beetle
I’m not even going to concern myself with year or model because Bugs have played a significant role in many of my all-time favorites. Stephen King wrote it as a red car, but Stanley Kubrick decided to give Jack Torrance a yellow hard top in The Shining and Ginny drove a temperamental, red convertible in Friday the 13th Part II. So we had a boy with “a very great talent” in 1980 and a year later Ginny’s drivin’ a Beetle and has expertise in child psychology? Coincidence, my ass. To say nothing of Rick’s well ventilated ode to the Overlook caretaker a year later.
9. Western Star 4800 (Maximum Overdrive)
Look, I have a hard enough time driving a car in reverse, so piloting an 18-wheeler? Yeah, no thank you. However, if ever the decision were made to make my living on the road, you best believe I wouldn’t roll out until I’d secured the Green Goblin head for the front of my rig.
RELATED: I used to spend the night at my grandparents’ quite a bit when I was little and have never forgotten the sheer terror I felt as Dennis Weaver was stalked through the desert in Duel by that dark, menacing 1955 Peterbilt 281 on the 11 o’clock movie. Whether it was gray or just completely encrusted with rust, it was pretty much the only time a vehicle made me uncomfortable. And that roar as it plunged off the cliff? Probably the only time I’ve asked out loud “Is it dead?” in reference to something with a motor.
8. 1975 Pontiac Catalina (The ‘Burbs)
Considering Dr. Klopek was a well respected pathologist, it was odd that his ride was absolutely beat to shit, but that was all part of the charm of Ray Peterson’s neighbors. And we can all relate because everyone knows the guy who lives down the block with a comparably loud car that departs at 6:30 on Saturday morning for whatever reason, destroying any plans you had of sleeping in. The Klopeks’ car squealed when the tires were turned and probably couldn’t have passed an emissions test, but damned if it wasn’t ideal for driving garbage down to the street so you could beat the hell out of it with a stick.
7. The Silver Bullet (Silver Bullet)
Behold the ride that made Gary Busey feel like a virgin on prom night. Little Marty Coslaw’s motorized wheelchair not only went super fast, it also needed its oil changed from time-to-time, in addition to the driver’s bullshit level. Now, this isn’t the type of vehicle you can get nostalgic about and buy from some random car dealer. No, there’d be some assembly required.
Do you have a pilot’s license?
6. 1978 Ford LTD Wagon (Halloween)
You never forget your first car. We’ve laid eyes on cars and big trucks, even a wheelchair, but what car list would be complete without a station wagon? It certainly caught Michael Myers’ eye. Let’s be real, we’ve all seen National Lampoon’s Vacation, so we’re going to look past the fact that the Smith’s Grove Sanitarium’s wheels weren’t metallic pea because it’s basically the horror equivalent of the Family Truckster. Speed kills.
TOUGH CUTS: The Bracketts’ 1977 Chevrolet Monte Carlo and the ’77 BMW 320i. The former for its plush red interior and the latter because of it had been driven by Donald Pleasence. And all things Dr. Loomis are fucking amazing.
5. 1957 Ford Custom 300 (Psycho)
What’s not to love? Classic scream queen Janet Leigh eased onto the open road to the creepy sounds of Bernard Hermann’s score only to find that both she and the car would take baths they’d come to regret. The ’57 Ford and Leigh would both make another appearance 38 years later for a magical cameo appearance in H20, a film anchored by the scream queen, Leigh’s daughter Jamie Lee Curtis.
4. 1958 Plymouth Belvedere (Christine)
She was a beaut in every way. Christine was based on a King novel, directed by John Carpenter and starred Jason Melon. Alright, Keith Gordon. Look, guys love cars. It can’t be explained, it’s just in their DNA, but the sad truth is that the machinery simply does not reciprocate that affection. It’s science.
However, there’s a first time for everything. Christine’s passion for Arnie Cunningham ran deep. So deep, in fact, she dispensed of his adversaries and after getting roughed up, even fixed herself in one of the coolest scenes you will ever see — “Show me.”
3. 1959 Cadillac Ambulance aka Ecto-1 (Ghostbusters)
“Everybody can relax, I found the car. Needs some suspension work. And shocks, brakes, pads, lining, steering box, transmission, rear end. Maybe new rings, also mufflers, a little wiring.”
But hey, good news. It only cost 48-hundred.
2. 1971 Plymouth Barracuda (Phantasm franchise)
Black and sleek and purred just like a cat when those ponies opened up full throttle. The ‘Cuda started out under Jody’s insurance, but it wasn’t long before Reggie abandoned the ice cream truck and kept a nickel-plated pistol in the glove box. I am no bullshit, I literally cheered when Reg-Man busted out said gun and passionately ordered Ravager’s thief to “Get the FUCK outta my car!” So sweet. The ‘Cuda should always enjoy reserved parking outside Dunes Cantina, where she belongs.
Oh, and to bring the male infatuation with cars full circle, check this appalled take from Joe Bob Briggs as he describes the huevos of Don Coscarelli willfully rollin’ such a fine motor vee-hickle as “the most terrifying scene (he’s) ever witnessed.”
1. 1973 Oldsmobile Delta ’88 (Evil Dead franchise)
A chariot fit for a King. The Delta has seen a lot of action. And not just in the back seat (extra large love glove, Ash?). It’s been all over Michigan, Tennessee, New Zealand and even the Middle Ages. Hell, the car actually belonged to writer / director Sam Raimi, but since returning from the days of primitive screwheads, the Delta has done it’s best impressions of not only Christine, but a DeLorean, as well.
Hell, we all know that Raimi likes to drop Bruce Campbell cameos in his flicks, so you know good and damn well you unraveled an evil grin to rival the Grinch when you saw that big yellow boat pull up outside Alison Lohman’s bank in Drag Me to Hell.
Thanks to Ash vs Evil Dead, the Delta remains on active duty, and with a firm grasp on the choicest parking spot within the horror garage.
Agree? Disagree? What cars in horror would you have included? Sound off in the comments section below.
Car information tracked down through Internet Movies Car Database.