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Black Cadillac (2003)

 -  Horror | Thriller  -  May 2003 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.0/10 from 2,208 users  
Reviews: 54 user | 11 critic

Three young men become terrorized in a high-speed car chase with a mysterious pursuant.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Josh Hammond ...
C.J. Longhammer
Taylor Stanley ...
Robert Clunis ...
Marilyn Silva ...
Karl Johnson ...
Fightin' Bar Guy
Richard Deutsch ...
Drunk Bar Kid
Christopher Gilbertson ...
Bar Denizen (as Chris Gilbertson)
Shannon Holzer ...
Bar Denizen
Bar Denizen


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


Revenge in the driver's seat


Horror | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

May 2003 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Cadillac Preto  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


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Did You Know?


The film is loosely based on an experience from the Director's past. In the early eighties, while he and a few friends were driving home, they were chased by a car, for several hours, through backwoods roads. See more »


Snow repeatedly appears and disappears on the roads and woods between shots. See more »


References Felicity (1998) See more »

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User Reviews

Excellent, low budget chase movie
11 June 2003 | by (London) – See all my reviews

Black Cadillac is a probably the best film so far from director John Murlowski. His previous two films Contagion (2001) and Terminal Error (2002) both dealt with different sorts of viruses of the biological then computer varieties respectively. Black Cadillac continues this theme, although this time with a much more ubiquitous 'virus': fear. It is a neatly done, surprisingly effective road chase movie, the basic premise of which is familiar from as far back as Spielberg's Duel (1971), and probably before: a faceless killer sits behind the wheel of an unstoppable vehicle, and spends most of the film hunting down our heroes in a relentless, tense vendetta. The difference here is that Murlowski swops the sun-bleached roads of Spielberg's celebrated debut for something much more immediately sinister: the freezing, pitch black back woods of Wisconsin.

Apparently based on true events, Black Cadillac begins ominously, from the viewpoint of an anonymous driver who tours his growling vehicle threateningly towards a roadhouse. This is the main thrust of the story: the Cadillac will be a vengeful, anonymous thing either prowling for victims or in hot pursuit of them. Anonymity is its strength and, in more senses than one, the plot's motor; as soon as the motorised stalker is humanised and his malevolence explained, tension is dissipated. Fortunately Murlowski postpones any necessary revelations until the end of his film.

Inside the disreputable roadhouse are three youths: Scott (Shane Johnson), a Yale man, his kid brother C.J. (Josh Hammond) and their friend the less experienced Robby (Jason Dohring). Soon we discover some essential differences between the three. Scott is very handy with his fists, promptly demonstrating this by getting CJ out of a scrape; he is also a womaniser. CJ, his face badly scarred by some previous unspecified incident is more laconic, a loner with his own 'agenda'. He shortly plans to make is own way in the world as a romantic drifter, perhaps by working the Great Lakes. Robby is the most immature of the three, and enjoys his first sexual experience that evening. The three leave, elated after escaping from a commotion triggered by CJ so easily, and speed off into the frozen night. Soon however a pair of headlights appears in the rear mirror, and the terrifying chase begins...

Along the way they pick up Charlie, an off-duty policeman (an excellently ambiguous performance by Randy Quaid), whom they initially suspect is the object of the Cadillac's attention. Abandoning him by the roadside, he apparently becomes the black car's first victim. "Did it just get darker?" asks a fearful Robby after the shots ring out. Now the three lads are on their own in the chilly forest, suspect that they are to be next as witnesses to the policeman's death, and alternate as they go between bickering, self-reliance, fear and personal revelation. From here on in, as any good film of this sort ought, Murlowski's story strips matters down to the bare essentials: a road game of terror as the two cars and their occupants try to out drive and out guess each other, nerves stretched to the limit.

Occasionally the film lets itself down. Once or twice it re-uses the same stretch of road to speed the cars along, an economy perhaps forced by a tight shooting schedule; at other times while it is obviously cold enough for breath to condense as characters converse, shortly afterwards it is not. But these are only minor distractions. What really matters is the chase, and the sense of panic and claustrophobia which builds as the narrative proceeds. By shooting long scenes within Scott's increasingly battered Saab's interior, Murlowski creates an effective ambience of fear which grows between the young men, unsure of what they have done. He even adds in a religious element (their pursuer scratches 'Your sins will find you out' in the ice on their windscreen as the trio take a short rest in a cafe), suggesting that the wrath that pursues them is of almost biblical proportions. The surrounding gloom of the frozen forest seems to echo the moral quagmire in which they feel they run. And as we discover, none are entirely blameless - but who is the principal cause of their predicament? And what should be done with the transgressor when discovered?

Such is the success of this middle part of the film that the reason behind the Cadillac's persistent pursuit of the trio, when finally revealed, seems rather mundane. Black as a coffin, and with overtones of divine retribution, the car has been a potent force propelling the action very satisfactorily. When this motor has gone, it is a tribute to the young cast that things do not go badly awry at this point, and that the final confrontation between them and their persecutors has drama remaining to keep proceedings interesting.

All in all this is a very effective film, low budget to be sure, but none the worse for that, considerably better than one might expect. It features a skilful, and mainly youthful cast whose enthusiasm make us forget some of the moral stereotypes involved. So just sit back, put the brain on free wheel, and enjoy the ride.

16 of 20 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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can you buys cj's gnarly jacket??? r_a_brooks89
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How did that kid get the Gnarly Scar on his cheek? petewrigley
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