What is it about cars that makes them such ideal instruments of mayhem? When put in the wrong hands, the amount of power an automobile has to offer is certainly a fearsome proposition, and the added level of anonymity it can provide ups the ante that much more. As Halloween fast approaches, what better time to reflect on the finest asphalt-roaming death dealers to grace the silver screen.
7. Ash’s Oldsmobile Delta 88 from Army of Darkness
The director of the Evil Dead series, Sam Raimi, seems to have a soft spot for 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88s – he’s featured it in all but one of his films (and in that one, The Quick and the Dead, he just covered the car with a wagon frame).
But it wasn’t until Army of Darkness that the Delta 88 reached its pinnacle of awesomeness, when Ash and his cohorts somehow managed to rig up what appeared to be helicopter blades and a cow catcher to the front end and subsequently went on an undead blood-letting orgy. Sadly, the Delta 88 didn’t survive the assault, but it did literally go out in a “blaze of glory”.
6. The Dodge M4S from The Wraith
Alright, we gave this car a shout out in the Top Ten Craziest Concept Cars, but after getting a chance to watch The Wraith last weekend, it turns out this sporty number is actually a pretty solid killing machine as well.
As the legend goes, a thuggish local street racing gang starts finding their ranks getting picked off one by one during races with a mysterious new car that has arrived in town. It turns out the car is there to avenge the death of a local kid who’d been murdered by the gang’s leader, and as such, The Wraith has come back to make some shit explode. And it doesn’t disappoint!
5. The 1964 Chevrolet Malibu from Repo Man
When young upstart Otto and the other repo agents at the Helping Hand Acceptance Corporation get word of an absurdly overvalued Chevy Malibu up for repossession, they know something is up.
What they don’t know is that something inhuman and unbelievably powerful lurks in the trunk of this car. Throughout the film, this outwardly unassuming Chevy has no trouble claiming the lives of the skeptical and arrogant. Ultimately, only the truly enlightened individuals are capable of wielding its powers without turning to dust.
4. Death Proof’s 1971 Chevrolet Nova
Few things are as intimidating (and badass) as a muscle car with a flat black paint job. However, when Stuntman Mike claims it to be his “mother’s car” it proves to be enough for Pam to let her guard down and accept a ride home from this silver-tongued stranger.
Stuntman Mike quickly reveals himself to be a top notch sadist, proclaiming that while the car is “100% death proof”, in order to reap the benefits of its safety measures, “you really need to be sittin’ in my seat.” Thus begins the Nova’s killing spree at the hands of an aging psychopath, starting with a dashboard to the face for Pam, followed by gratuitously blood-soaked head on collision with a car full of girls shortly there after.
3. The Peterbilt 281 Semi Truck from Duel
As Spielberg later said, the fear of the unknown is perhaps the greatest fear of all, and that is illustrated quite well by the anonymous, malevolent truck driver in Duel. In the film, David Mann is a white collar executive driving across the California desert to an appointment who suddenly finds himself pursued mercilessly along the highway by an ominous, dirt and rust-caked semi truck.
No matter what Mann does, the truck seems to be right on top of him, constantly forcing him into a continual game of cat and mouse in which the truck itself becomes the villain instead of the person driving it, creating a much more daunting foe for Mann to confront.
2. Frankenstein’s Corvette in Death Race 2000
Death Race 2000 is responsible for that instance in a shopping mall parking lot when your friend next to you says, “Hey man, woman with a baby stroller, 50 points.” So by terms of sheer disregard for human life, Death Race 2000 earns its keep among killer car movies. Unlike the “remake” of last year, Death Race, the original plays upon a popular theme at the time when a dystopian society has run amok and televised bloodsport has become the opiate of the masses.
Drivers are to race across the country, killing whoever they can, be it other drivers, crew, spectators, and random pedestrians. A driver’s score is based on a points system which is determined by the “value” of the type of person killed. While most of the drivers in the death race embodied evil, Frankenstein and his saber-toothed Corvette typically took the higher ground, opting to dispatch those who sought to perpetuate evil behavior rather than to simply go for the easy kills.
Also, he runs over the President.
1. 1958 Plymouth Fury from Christine
Christine, the red and white tail-finned death machine is what immediately springs to mind when you ask someone to conjure up their notion of a “killer car.” It embodies all the hallmarks of the genre – the car looks totally evil, kills people in heinous ways, can’t be reasoned with (it is, after all, a car) and its only concern is dishing out vengeance at all costs. Narrow walls, sledge hammers – these things mean nothing to Christine.
Aside from that, Christine had style. From the way it tended to park itself on perches menacingly before attacking its prey, to the doo-wop hits blasting out of the stereo as an announcement of its evil presence (or musical taste?), Christine was the kind of self-healing, satanic deathmobile you could really learn to love.
But above all, a 1958 Plymouth Fury is just an unbelievably bitchin’ set of wheels.