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The entire time I was watching THE CAR ($25) DVD, I couldnít shake the feeling that I was watching a made for TV movie. Sure, THE CAR is in Ďscope and sports production values far beyond anything being produced for television in 1977, but there is definitely something in this movie that smacks of being made for television. Perhaps it the fact that Iíve seen James Brolin in one too may AAMCO commercials, but I think the way that the plot of THE CAR is structured gives the film that unmistakable television quality.

Despite the television flavor, I found myself genuinely liking this oddball horror movie quite a bit (donít ask me why). THE CAR stars James Brolin as Wade Parent, a small town sheriff who finds himself with a rash of killing on his hands. All of the victims ended up under the wheels of a strange looking black sedan that disappears after each killing. When the sheriff and his deputies go after the mysterious black sedan, they find the car an unstoppable killing machine that decimates the small town police force. Eventually, Wade comes to the conclusion that The Car is lacking a driver and this automotive terror really is Hell On Wheels. The cast of THE CAR also features Kathleen Lloyd, John Marley, R.G. Armstrong, John Rubinstein, Elizabeth Thompson, Roy Jenson, Kim Richards, Kyle Richards, Kate Murtaugh and Ronny Cox.

Anchor Bay Entertainment has done a terrific job with their DVD release of THE CAR, a title that they licensed from Universal Home Video. Anchor Bay offers THE CAR in both wide screen and full screen versions of the movie on separate layers of a single sided DVD. Since THE CAR was shot in Panavision, the full screen presentation will prove worthless; therefore I wholeheartedly recommend the terrific wide screen version. Not only is the wide screen version of THE CAR enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays, the movie looks so good; one will find it hard to believe it was shot back in 1977. Anchor Bayís wide screen presentation frames THE CAR at the proper 2.35:1 and it looks like the folks at Universal maintained a pristine film element for this transfer. THE CAR delivers a sharp, well-defined image that reproduces with amazing clarity. There are only a couple of shots in the movie that appear a bit soft in comparison to the rest of the film. Colors are vibrant, with the dusty desert vista looking especially warm and appealing. Flesh tones are very natural rendered and there are no problems with chroma noise or bleeding. Blacks are very accurate and the image has excellent contrast under various lighting conditions. There are no problems with digital compression artifacts on this well authored DVD.

THE CAR includes a new Dolby Digital 5.1 channel sound mix that sounds very good. The new mix is a lot of fun and really enhances the presentation of THE CAR. Especially effective are the sound effects for the malicious automobile, which might make one want to duck for cover. Dialogue is cleanly reproduced and always intelligible. Leonard Rosenmanís creepy cool score is somewhat reminiscent of BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES, however the music really takes advantage of the Dolby Digital re-mix. Of course, the sound mix wonít fool anyone into thinking that THE CAR is a new movie, but the folks at Chase Productions have certainly upped the ante for this DVD release.

The interactive menus are mildly animated and contain sound effects. Through the menus, one can access the standard scene selection and setup features, including choice of wide screen or full screen presentations. The DVDís extras include a theatrical trailer and talent biographies, which are also accessible through the menu system.


The Car (1977)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2000 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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