70s B Movies: The Car

This haunted car movie was before Christine and though it’s not as good it is entertaining. It was panned when released but it does have a 6.1 in IMDB which is not terrible. The movie resembles Jaws but with a driverless demon car instead of a shark.

It’s a cross between a science-fiction and a horror film about an angry, driverless automobile that terrorizes a small Utah town for several days, squashing one hitchhiker, two bicyclists, one sheriff, one school teacher, and assorted policemen.

While much of the plot and dialog in The Car is pretty silly, there are some terrific moments in it, like the opening scene, where two bicyclists are rammed off a high bridge, which was reportedly the highest free fall stunt of its time. There’s also a scene where the car hides in the dark, then it flies through the window of a house, running over a woman in her kitchen.

The Car cast James Brolin, Ronnie Cox, Kathleen Lloyd, John Marley, R.G Armstrong, John Rubinstein, and Elizabeth Thompson.

I talked my mom into taking me to see this movie when I was ten in 1977. She gave it a big thumbs down. As B movies go you can get much worse than this movie.

The Star of the film is The Car! Designed and engineered by legendary car builder George Barris, who was also responsible for such iconic movie vehicles as the Batmobile, The Munster’s Koach and many others, The Car began life as 1971 Lincoln Continental Mark III Coupe.

Guillermo Del Toro is known to drive a replica of the Lincoln from the film. He is a fan of the movie.

It has its fans and detractors but it is remembered. Below The Car in this Simpsons Treehouse of Horror episode with Maggie driving while chasing and hitting Millhouse.

My Memories of 1977

In 1977 I turned 10 years old. It was the first year I wanted to know what was going on in the world. I started to watch Walter Cronkite reporting the world news. Keywords I remember were Sadat, Middle East, Son of Sam, Concorde, and Inflation. Local news would be Chris Clark on channel 5 an affiliate of CBS…keywords locally… Snow, Ray Blanton (the name would be more popular the next year…in a bad way), and Larry Schmittou…who would bring Nashville minor league baseball the following year with the “Sounds” a Reds farm team.

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I missed around 3 weeks of school because of it being either closed or the bus would not run down our rural road because of snow…sledding and exploring time! In Middle Tn… 1 inch of snow will shut down a city.

I remember Star Wars hit the theaters with lines around the corners. I didn’t see it the month it was released but soon afterward. It was everywhere and the talk of the school. We had never seen anything like it before.

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I remember Queen releasing News of the World. A friend of mine brought the album to school and we studied every inch of the cover (by Frank Kelly Freas), a giant robot picking up the bodies of the band. We Will Rock You and We Are the Champions played non-stop on the radio. This is when I started to explore other bands that weren’t named The Beatles.

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The TV mini-series Roots was huge and historic.

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I was watching Gilligans Island and it was interrupted by sad news. Elvis Presley was dead at 42 years old. My mom and other grown-ups around were really upset. I knew his songs and it was sad but I didn’t understand everyone’s reactions for someone they didn’t know. Three years later when I was 13 I understood perfectly clear when John Lennon was murdered. Three days after Elvis died Groucho Marx passed away…In October Bing Crosby passed away.

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I paid attention to the inauguration of Jimmy Carter as President in January. I would hear about peanuts, teeth and his brother Billy for the rest of the year…and about one of those keywords again…inflation.

I remember the Son of Sam killings. In August of that year, David Berkowitz was finally apprehended. He killed six people and wounded seven others. I also remember the blackouts in New York in July…

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The Concorde was all over the news that year. To a 10-year-old in 1977, it looked like something out of a sci-fi movie.

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In March of 1977, I started to follow baseball. I’m not from California but my Dad always rooted for the Dodgers and it was passed down to me. I read from a young age about Babe Ruth, Christy Matheson, and the older players… but this was the first year I followed modern baseball from start to finish. Cey, Lopes, Garvey, Russell, Yeager, Dusty Baker, Reggie Smith, Don Sutton, Tommy John…I loved that team. I still can imitate the batting stance of all of the starters. Ron Cey was my hero and I played 3rd base in Little League because of him.

Our insurance salesman would come to our house every now and then and he knew I was a Dodger fan. He said he went to games in LA and would bring back something for me… I believed him totally. My mom told me not to get my hopes up as he was busy and might forget… A few weeks later…there he was with a Dodger 1977 pennant in his hand to give me…I still have it. I couldn’t believe the pennant in my hand came from the mythical Dodger Stadium where my heroes played.

They had four players with 30 or more home runs that year…Cey, Garvey, Smith, and Baker. They made it to the World Series but broke my heart. They played the Yankees and Reggie Jackson (it still hurts to type his name) hit three home runs in the sixth and deciding game to beat my Dodgers. It took a while to get over that…well I’m still writing about it 41 years later…but it’s always next year.

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I’ll close it out on Matchbox and Hot Wheels…I had a huge collection that I carried to friends houses to trade and race.

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If only life was that simple again…

 

Great B Movies

The Car (1977) – One of my personal favorites…I actually talked my mom into taking me to this in 1977. I loved every minute of it. My son and I have watched it over and over.

It’s Alive (1974) – The trailer use to scare me to death as a kid. I would hear that scream in my sleep… Someone took me to see it and I loved it but was scared… Pure seventies joy.

 

The Spirit of 76 (1990) – A time machine with David Cassidy at the helm going back mistakenly to 1976 instead of 1776 from a grey future… Who could ask for more? It’s complete with Devo and they got the seventies down well. Fun movie to watch.

Dirty Mary and Crazy Larry (1974) – Another movie that I got to see in the theater that I will never forget. It does have a powerful ending…Peter Fonda was great in this and I loved the car they drove.

Gone In Sixty Seconds (1974) – This one is special to me because parked in the lobby of the Theater was Eleanor the car that was actually in the movie. I got to touch it and it was like touching gold to a 8 year old. I remember watching the trailer and my aunt taking me to see it.

A Boy and His Dog (1975) – I wont even try to explain…look at wiki…

Plan 9 From Outer Space (1958) – So bad that is it good. Watching the cardboard tombstones move as people walk near.

Superfly (1972) – Great movie…. A lot of the cops are real cops, hookers….real hookers…low budget with a great ending. Curtis Mayfield recorded the soundtrack…you can’t get better than that…As with another post…where is that car now?

 

Shallow Wondering and Searching

I often wonder where things end up… When I watch a television show, a historical video, a movie, famous concerts, or whatever… I do the stupidest thing and I admit it. I always wonder…where is that prop today? Where is Jackie Kennedy’s pillbox hat? Where is the M that is hanging in the Mary Tyler Moore show now (I’ve read where Mary Tyler Moore still had it when she died)? Where is the Car from the B movie “The Car” at now? Where the cars from Death Race 2000….the original ended up? Where is the original Eleanor from the original Gone in 60 seconds? Where a prop is from a long-ago variety show. Very trivial stuff and not worth the effort but I cannot help it.

Then if I have plenty of free time…If I don’t I make it… I google through the night. Trying to find any clue to where they have gone. It is a sickness and a waste of time… I could do much more constructive things but I look at it as a shallow hobby…  Where certain guitars are now…that is the easiest thing to find but some things are impossible but I have a lot fun searching.