In 1977, Universal Pictures released a nice little horror film called The Car, which had James Brolin and Ronny Cox dealing with a demonic car that was terrorizing their small Midwestern town. Now, over forty years later, we get a sequel to that horror classic…well, kind of, but not really. Universal Pictures is once again the distributor, but fans of the original will be hard pressed to find any similarities between their beloved classic and this supposed sequel.
The film takes place in the not so distant future — your basic low budget cyberpunk setting — where criminals are tried, convicted, and executed all in the same day, and even in the same place, so it’s nice to see that the future is all about convenience, but as harsh as the judicial system seems to be, crime itself is still running rampant in this dystopian city. District Attorney Caddock (Jamie Bamber) wants to see the streets cleaned up, even if he has to be an asshole about it, but when he comes into possession of a certain data chip, one that belongs to the notorious crime lord Talen (Martin Hancock) who runs a human trafficking ring, while also dabbling in illegal cybernetic enhancements, a group of said cybernetic goons are sent to retrieve the chip.
Torture fails to make Caddock give up the data chip, so they toss him out of his high-rise office window, where he crash-lands on the roof of his own luxury sedan. Homicide Detective Rainier (Grant Bowler) is put on the case, and his first step is to track down a woman named Daria (Kathleen Monroe), who was the last person known to have seen Caddock alive. Daria had a complicated history with the deceased, her being an ex-girlfriend with a past drinking problem, that wasn’t helped by Caddock being a controlling dickhead. Talen’s minions also wish to have a few words with Daria, hoping that she may have some idea as to where the data chip is located, and that is when The Car rolls in. Turns out that when Caddock pancaked onto the roof of his car, his soul fused with the vehicle, and now the driverless automobile prowls the streets seeking revenge, as well as the continued stalking of his ex-girlfriend.
By this point, it’s obvious that for anyone who has seen the 1997 original, The Car: Road to Revenge is not running by the same playbook, as in the original, it was made fairly clear that The Car was some incarnation of The Devil himself, while in The Car: Road to Revenge we are dealing with a car possessed by a vengeful spirit. Basically, we’re talking a bargain-basement Christine, but with a standard Tales From the Crypt plot, and as the film progresses, Echternkamp looks to make up for any lack of continuity, or originality for that matter, by tossing in random moments of nudity and extreme gore. This pretty much fails at every level. The only shining light amongst this used car lot of crap is the chemistry between the two leads; Bowler and Monroe really seem to be enjoying themselves, and the script even allows them some fun banter, when not being interrupted by the puerile garbage that makes up the rest of the script. But whenever we start to think the film might try something interesting, or at least to not be openly insulting, the script forces characters to do the standard dumb things people are apparently required to do in a horror movie.
But just when you think this movie is a sequel in name only, with not one single plot element to connect this thing with the original, Ronny Cox shows up as some junkyard dude. Now, this cannot be the same character that Ronny Cox played in the original, as not only was the character a cop, but going by this film’s “futuristic” timeline, he’d be long dead, so maybe this is just a cute casting nod to the original film, but no, that is not the case. At some point in the film, The Car is practically destroyed by Talen’s minions — by gunfire no less, which is something that couldn’t even scratch the original Car — and Ronny Cox’s junkyard mechanic comes across the wreckage and decides to fix it up, but the damage is too extensive, so he must use a “donor car” to rebuild the vehicle, and the donor car looks like The Car from the original film.
• Is the donor car just another customized 1971 Lincoln Continental Mark III, or is it the actual Devil car from the original movie?
• If this thing was The Car, what was it doing in this dude’s garage? And how and why The Car ended up here would easily have made a better movie than the one we got.
• After killing Ronny Cox, the “new” Car proceeds to drive through the city, mowing down innocent civilians, left right and center. Before it was just knocking off the gang members who murdered Caddock, so why is it now murdering people at random?
• This seems to imply that parts from the donor car have made it eviler, yet it still seems to have the hots for Caddock’s ex-girlfriend. So what the fuck is controlling The Car, is it Caddock or The Devil?
The 1977 original ended with a perfect set-up for a sequel, during the end credits we saw that The Car had survived being blown up by Brolin and Cox, and was now heading into Los Angeles, but the filmmakers behind The Car: Road to Revenge decided to ignore such notions, and instead they made a movie that is more a mash-up of Robocop 2 and John Carpenter’s Christine than anything to do with the original film. I know one shouldn’t expect too much from a direct-to-video sequel, but goddamn it, I’ve waited over forty years for a sequel to that classic horror film, and this is the crap we got?
The Car: Road to Revenge (2019)
Movie Rank - 2.5/10
I didn’t expect much out of a film called The Car: Road to Revenge, but the filmmakers here have managed to land their product well below even my incredibly low expectations. If you are a fan of the original film do yourself a favor, give this one a wide berth.