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Death Car on the Freeway (1979)

Not Rated | | Mystery, Thriller | TV Movie 25 September 1979
An unknown, psychotic driver uses his van to kill unsuspecting female drivers on the freeway.


Hal Needham


William Wood


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Shelley Hack ... Jan / Jan Claussen
Frank Gorshin ... Ralph Chandler
Peter Graves ... Lieutenant Haller
Harriet Nelson ... Mrs. Sheel
Barbara Rush ... Rosemary
Dinah Shore ... Lynn Bernheimer
Abe Vigoda ... Mr. Frisch
Alfie Wise Alfie Wise ... Ace Durham
George Hamilton ... Ray Jeffries
Robert F. Lyons ... Barry Hill
Tara Buckman ... Jane Guston
Morgan Brittany ... Becky Lyons
Nancy Stephens ... Christine
Gloria Stroock ... Dr. Rita Glass
Hal Needham ... Mr. Blanchard


A woman is badly shaken when she is run off the freeway and nearly killed by a crazy van-driver. Her story is not taken too seriously by TV or the police - until another woman is killed in similar circumstances, also by a dark van. The police seem to have no leads, so a TV reporter starts investigating the similarities between the cases. As the deaths mount, she takes hazard-driving lessons. When she finally locates the driver's whereabouts, he's missing, but chases her onto the freeway... Written by Cynan Rees <cynanrees@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


He Kills With a Van. Beautiful Women Are His Victims. Until One Meets Him Head On!


Mystery | Thriller


Not Rated | See all certifications »






Release Date:

25 September 1979 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Autoroute pour la mort See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA

Company Credits

Production Co:

The Shpetner Company See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Shelley Hack's TV debut. See more »


During every freeway chase/attack scene, the involved vehicles constantly appear in different lanes with different vehicles surrounding them in each shot, especially when the killer and victim are both traveling in the far left lane - interior close-ups always show them suddenly in the center or right lane with new backgrounds. See more »


Jan: Do you recognize these? You hear them almost every day. 'You can be king of the road in the new Road Rocket, one side slays. It's the King.' 'The legendary Bengal tiger is known for its fierce attacks, that's why we named our new 8-cylinder Renegade after it, see the new tiger at your Southern California dealers today'. Or this, '5 on the floor, rack and pinging steering, zero to 60 in four seconds. That's the stuff the new Python 620 is made of'. And ladies and gentlemen, I venture to say ...
See more »


Referenced in Death Proof (2007) See more »

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User Reviews

Duel II: Rush Hour Rage!
2 July 2014 | by CoventrySee all my reviews

Who better than Hal Needham, notorious stunt driver and director of many good ol' boy car chase movies like "Smokey and the Bandit" and "Cannonball Run", could direct this modest but worthwhile TV-thriller with numerous crashes and exploding vehicles? The resemblance with Steven Spielberg's phenomenal "Duel" is unmistakable, but that doesn't necessarily makes this film a blatant rip-off. Both films center on a psychopath who, seemingly without much of a motive, uses his/her vehicle as a deadly murder weapon. In "Duel" it's a filthy old truck in the middle of nowhere, whereas in "Death Car on the Freeway" it's a Dodge van on the traffic-infested highways of California during rush hour (which is probably why he occasionally has to switch license plates and re-paint). William Wood's scenario also hints that the murderous van driver does have a motive, in fact. He exclusively targets attractive women alone in a car, so that must make him a misogynic and underdeveloped pig that can't stand that women grow stronger and more independent nowadays. So, symbolically, the person on his tail is a rather timid and initially insecure female journalist who just liberated herself from her self-centered husband and doesn't get taken seriously by her management, or the TV Company's management. The "freeway-incidents" are tense and spectacular, in spite of the obvious budget restrictions, which is a good thing because the rest of the film is overly talkative and somewhat dull. The crashing cars burst into flames illogically fast, if you ask me, but that only makes it more exciting. Although it's "just" a TV-movie, "Death Car on the Freeway" stars a fairly impressive number of familiar names, like Peter Graves, George Hamilton and Robert F. Lyons. Horror and cult fanatics should particularly keep an eye open for a brief appearance by Sid Haig.

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