A mysterious black, sleek automobile terrorizes everyone it comes into contact with in a small town in Utah. The local sheriff may be the only person who can stop this menace which has been possessed by pure evil.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Elizabeth Thompson ...
Kate Murtagh ...
Robert Phillips ...
Henry O'Brien ...
Lee McLaughlin ...


Near the small desert town of Santa Ynez, a mysterious black car runs down two teenage bicyclers en route to camp, then it hit-and-runs a hitchhiker with local Amos Clements as witness. Sheriff Everett puts his men on alert and plants road blocks in the area to arrest the murderer, but soon he himself falls victim to the car. Sheriff Wade Parent leads the hunt for the vehicle that threatens their town and seems impossible to locate. When his beloved girlfriend, teacher Lauren Humphries, challenges the driver in a cemetery, the car hunts her in her home. Wade realizes he might be dealing with supernatural powers. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil / revised by statmanjeff

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Is it a phantom, a demon, or the Devil himself? See more »


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

13 May 1977 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Wheels  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

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Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


According to director Elliot Silverstein, the distinctive sound the horn of The Car makes, spells out the letter X in Morse code. See more »


During the opening murder scene of the two bicyclists, one of the helicopters used for filming can be heard hovering over the bicyclists. See more »


Everett: Are you gonna stand there philosophizing, or are you gonna buy me a drink? You're not smart enough to do both.
See more »


Referenced in Scream: The TV Series: Psycho (2016) See more »


Dies Irae, Dies Illa
Traditional, thought to be written by Thomas of Celano
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Driving Home Terror!
18 July 2006 | by (Manitoba, Canada) – See all my reviews

Anyone who sets aside time for a movie about a possessed car that runs people down knows they're not not going to get an Oscar winner. Still, THE CAR is a decent (though largely forgettable) little 1970s horror film.

THE CAR is reasonably paced with enough unique qualities that its intended audience won't be completely disappointed. A wry James Brolin stars as a small town sheriff leading the charge against the big ugly car as it mows down innocent cyclists, antagonizes school children and plows through homes. The characters are surprisingly developed, believable characters who react to this madness as (probably) you or I would. It's director Elliot Silverstein's willingness to take the story seriously, avoiding obvious opportunities for campiness, that makes the automobile (custom made for the film) a dynamic villain. That said, at no point is THE CAR particularly scary. Then again, how many horror films actually are?

What's interesting about THE CAR is that no one, not even the audience, knows where the vile vehicle came from. It simply shows up on an otherwise beautiful day. Some might see this as a cop out, but Silverstein, who cut his teeth on THE TWILIGHT ZONE, among other TV series, wisely understood one of the enduring rules of horror: some things are better left unexplained. The film's climax does reveal who was behind the wheel (if you haven't seen it, I won't spoil it), but the hows and whys of the situation remain up to our individual interpretations.

There's not a great deal of appeal in THE CAR to those outside its target audience of popcorn-munching horror buffs. But if you find the film's premise irresistible, you'll want to take THE CAR for a spin.

18 of 23 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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