Article 4406 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by John Carpenter
Featuring Keith Gordon, John Stockwell, Alexandra Paul
What it is: Killer car movie
A high school outcast buys a dilapidated 1958 Plymouth Fury whose former owners have suffered horrible deaths. He becomes obsessed with the car and undergoes a change of personality. Soon, some of his enemies begin dying…
I’ve not read the Stephen King novel on which this was based, but I can only assume that he must have felt very confident of his powers to take on what, to my mind, seems a very dodgy subject for a horror novel; quite frankly, a killer motor vehicle is a concept that seems more likely to net horselaughs than shivers. I do know that it’s a tribute to John Carpenter’s skill as a movie maker that the concept more or less works here. That’s not to say that the movie doesn’t have a few problems. Certain scenes seem superfluous, while I sense that certain scenes are missing; I, for one, would have liked to have seen the outcast’s change of character take place more gradually, as well as having his friends undergo more specific experiences with the car to help us feel their growing distrust of it. Still, the movie does accomplish the task of making the car scary rather than silly, and I do love the witty use of classic fifties rock ‘n’ roll music throughout the movie. Overall, I’d say this is a good John Carpenter movie; it’s not up their with his best work, but it’s decent enough.