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Black Cadillac (2003)

R | | Horror, Thriller | May 2003 (USA)
Three young men become terrorized in a high-speed car chase with a mysterious pursuant.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Charlie
...
Scott
Josh Hammond ...
C.J. Longhammer
...
Robby
...
Jeannine
...
Beefy
Taylor Stanley ...
Denise
...
Lurlene
Robert Clunis ...
Luther
Marilyn Silva ...
Louise
Karl Johnson ...
Fightin' Bar Guy
Richard Deutsch ...
Drunk Bar Kid
Christopher Gilbertson ...
Bar Denizen (as Chris Gilbertson)
Shannon Holzer ...
Bar Denizen
...
Bar Denizen
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Storyline

Every year Scott Robertson, a generally admired Yale student, and his screw-up mate C.J. Longhammer from Minnesota cross the Wisconsin border for a wild night. Scott has a girl in his Saab, but as usual must return to the bar as CJ started a fight and this time Scotts adoring kid brother Robbie is with them, and just was about to lose his tormenting virginity. Scotts fists get them out. They are followed by a black Cadillac, make a risky drive on the lake to shake it, allow Robbie to take an urgent leak and give a lift to a neighboring sheriff, Charlie, who has car trouble in Arctic weather. The Cadillac keeps following and even ramming them, so they start wondering why and suspecting each-other, and it gets worse... Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Revenge in the driver's seat

Genres:

Horror | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence, language and some sexuality | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

May 2003 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

O Carro da Morte  »

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Did You Know?

Trivia

Spoiler: In several scenes, a black '57 Series 62 Sedan is substituted for the Series 75 limousine. Since the roof and rear window is completely different on the two cars, a fake roof extension had to be created for the Series 62 model. It was this car and not the limousine that drove off the cliff into the frozen lake at the end of the film. See more »

Goofs

The Saabs pedals alternate between those for a manual gearbox and an automatic gearbox. See more »

Connections

References The Three Musketeers (1973) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Character and dialogue-driven horror
22 June 2005 | by (New York City) – See all my reviews

Black Cadillac is a surprisingly tight, well-written, excellently directed and suspenseful low-budget horror film focused on ensemble acting and characterization, of all things. That's an unusual and welcomed emphasis for horror at this budget level. It could have just as easily worked as a play with only one or two sparse sets and a cast of only four, with two more actors briefly needed for the climax.

On the other hand, if you're turned off by films that are "talky"--this one is about 80% dialogue--then you should probably avoid Black Cadillac. But I can't imagine a serious film fan not liking any dialogue-heavy films, and on this end, Black Cadillac favorably compares to such masterpieces as Alfred Hitchcock's Rope (1948) and Rear Window (1954). Imagine either one of those films combined with Christine (1983), Joy Ride (2001), or the beginning of Jeepers Creepers (2001), and you'll have a good idea what to expect.

The story is centered on three young men, Scott (Shane Johnson), his best friend C.J. Longhammer (Josh Hammond), and his younger brother Robby (Jason Dohring). They're from Minnesota, but they regularly go to the boonies of Wisconsin to drink, because it's apparently much easier to pass off a fake I.D. there--they're all under aged. Scott has just started school at Yale. Robby is still in high school. Scott has come back to see off C.J., who has decided to take a blue-collar job working ships in the Great Lakes instead of going to college.

They head to a small, rowdy "Roadhouse" bar. Both Scott and Robby are getting lucky with local women. C.J. is still sitting at the bar when a woman asks him about his prominent facial scar. He tells a somewhat macabre story about it which disturbs the woman. A few minutes later, two large rednecks confront him, asking what he did to upset the woman. A fight ensues. Scott and Robby have to break off their trysts to help C.J., and they end up barreling out of the parking lot in Scott's Saab, pursued by a group of rednecks. The titular black Cadillac ends up in their rear view mirror, driving strangely. Just when they begin feeling threatened, the trio runs into a local cop, Charlie (Randy Quaid), who has broken down on the side of the road. They give him a lift. Who is in the Black Cadillac? Is it just the rednecks from the bar come to screw with them? That car wasn't in the parking lot. Why does Charlie seem a bit odd?

Will Aldis' screenplay--only his second produced work--is excellent. Many other films have tried a similar tactic to Black Cadillac's "handful of people stuck in a 'room' and talking" method of reigning in the budget and keeping artistic "fat" in check, including works such as Josh Apter and Peter Olsen's Kaaterskill Falls (2001), and failed miserably. Aldis' dialogue has a logical ebb and flow, a lively and clever interplay, and strikes just the right balance between realistic and artistic while it gradually builds tension. It never seems like there is anything missing or amiss. It never feels like the material set in Scott's car is overlong. I could have listened to this quartet of characters banter for hours.

Of course it wouldn't have worked without great acting. By this point we expect Randy Quaid to be good. Even in the films he's been in that are questionable--he's been in plenty of "fringe" B films, including a lot of cheeseball stuff--and/or where he just has a bit part--think of National Lampoon's Vacation (1983) for just one famous example of the latter--he often threatens to steal the show. He doesn't disappoint here. But Shane Johnson, Josh Hammond and Jason Dohring easily hold their own despite their relative inexperience--they've mostly only had bit parts in a few films so far.

For my money, director John Murlowski perfectly captured the essence of older teenagers doing something slightly risky but freedom-affirming as they ache to move into adulthood, but where something goes wrong and they get that sinking feeling in the pit of their stomach as things go from bad to worse, with a large part of it being their realizations/recontextualizations as they talk to each other. The trio is exquisitely balanced in that progression of emotions, and the introduction of Charlie slyly knocks everything out of whack.

Although Black Cadillac isn't really a film for showing off fancy directorial techniques, tricky camera-work and the like, Murlowski manages a couple unusual shots, such as the beginning--a low angle of a car speeding through the night in the country town, and his nighttime camera work--the bulk of the film, even though it's the most difficult shooting condition to make look good--is very impressive, as is his staging of the "action" or "attack" scenes.

If the above is not enough of an endorsement, consider this: I had just finished watching another film. I was tired and thinking about getting off to sleep. However, my curiosity about Black Cadillac--which was sitting in my Netflix "In" pile--got the better of me. I wanted to at least check out the beginning to see what it was like. It captured my attention enough at the beginning that I thought, "Well, I have to at least watch until this opening sequence is finished", and that feeling never stopped--in fact it grew with subsequent scenes. I had to watch until the end, even though I started late enough that the film didn't finish until 2:00 a.m. If a film is intriguing enough that I can't take a break to sleep, it's got to be good.

By the way, this is another example of what I call the "Going to Hell in a handbasket" subgenre--one of my favorites. See my review of The Out-of-Towners (1970) for more on that.


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