Not all horror films feature vehicles, but those that do have some of the most iconic cars to grace the big screen.
Some act as stalwart allies on the side of the heroes, driven by the gang to help them escape (or fight) evil. Others might be the very reason why these films are classified as horror, mowing down innocent people in the most gruesome ways possible.
Without further ado, here are five of some of the most iconic automobiles in horror cinema.
Christine (Christine, 1983)
First on the list is Christine from John Carpenter’s 1983 movie of the same name. Don’t let this cherry-red automobile’s gorgeous looks fool you. Christine’s a stone-cold killer that can drive itself to inflict pain and suffering on the people who’ve wronged it, as well as those who haven’t.
It’s unclear how or why Christine became sentient and autonomous, but one thing’s for certain: she made it everyone’s problem. After coming into the ownership of Arnie, a meek and nerdy teen, Christine grew dangerously possessive.
Arnie’s new vehicle slowly but steadily corrupted him, making him more aggressive, impulsive, and just as obsessed as Christine is with him. Eventually, the pair became a murderous duo that was more than willing to kill anyone who slighted them.
The story of Christine might be based on a real-life case of a possessed vehicle that brought tremendous misfortune to anyone in its vicinity, especially those who drove it.
The Golden Eagle was a 1964 Dodge 330 Limited Edition that used to be a police car. The story goes that every officer who drove the vehicle committed suicide, but not before killing their families in their own homes.
The Golden Eagle then came into the possession of car collector Wendy Allen, who was supposedly able to contain the vehicle. Allegedly, vandals who tried to mess with it wound up dead not long after their attempts to attack it.
Though it’s debatable if the story of the Golden Eagle is actually true, its prominence as an urban legend likely inspired Stephen King enough to write his horror novel Christine in the 1980s.
Ectomobile (Ghostbusters, 1984)
Another iconic horror movie vehicle is the Ecto-1, also known as the Ectomobile, from the original Ghostbusters movie from 1984. It’s the vehicle that brings the titular Ghostbusters from zone to zone, helping them stop evil spirits and other entities.
The Ectomobile itself is a heavily modified 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor Sentinel — a rare vehicle that isn’t exactly known for its quality. It comes equipped with technology designed to bust ghosts. One of its most iconic features is the unique siren wail.
In the sequel, the Ectomobile receives a significant upgrade, transforming it from the Ecto-1 to the Ecto-1A. It’s the same car but with new tools and fancy equipment, such as digital signboards, glowing light bars, and a satellite dish.
There are only 25 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor Sentinel models in existence, and two out of these 25 were modified to create Ectomobiles to use in the film. A new model was needed because the original Ectomobile broke down and stopped working when filming the original Ghostbusters.
A replacement was made and sent to the studio. This Ectomobile lasted much longer, being present in the first Ghostbusters film, Ghostbusters 2 (1989), and finally, Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021).
Mystery Machine (Scooby-Doo, 2002)
The Mystery Machine from the world-renowned Scooby-Doo franchise might be one of the most iconic automobiles in horror media.
Thanks to its unique color scheme, groovy floral decals, and stylish boxy look, the Mystery Machine is as vital a member of Mystery Inc. as Scooby and the rest of the gang. Because of this, the live-action adaptation of Scooby-Doo took some creative liberties and fashioned their own unique Mystery Machine.
Scooby-Doo (2002) portrayed the iconic Mystery Machine as a 1972 Bedford CF modified to look more like the automobile that fans of the cartoon know and love. On the other hand, the Mystery Machine used in the 2004 sequel Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed is a modified Chevy Van.
While the original Mystery Machine from the 1969-1976 animated series doesn’t seem to match the description of any known vehicle, its appearance draws loose inspiration from retro vans like the Dodge A100, the Ford Econoline, and the Chevy Van.
The Car (The Car, 1977)
Before Christine, there was the Car — a malevolent 1971 Lincoln Continental Mark III that likes running down innocent people. The Car, from the 1977 movie of the same name, didn’t have any real identity. It had no license plate, and more importantly, it had no driver.
The titular Car was modified to look as evil and otherworldly as possible. The roof is three inches lower than the average vehicle to reinforce the idea that it’s not a vehicle a human can drive. Similarly, the side fenders were raised and elongated to give it a more sinister look.
Four cars were built for the movie. One was specially designed for close-up shots and was kept in pristine condition, never used for daring stunts. The other three were more expendable and were used exclusively for stunt work.
Unfortunately, two of the three stunt cars ended up getting destroyed. Of the two remaining cars used in the film, one became part of a private collection.
The Oldsmobile (The Evil Dead, 1981)
Last but not least, Ash Williams’ — or more accurately, director Sam Raimi’s — iconic 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88 has made an appearance in every single installment of the Evil Dead franchise to date.
Although the Oldsmobile didn’t have a big role in the first movie, its presence in the story grew with each sequel. It culminated in Army of Darkness (1982), receiving a badass Mad Max-esque makeover.
The Oldsmobile’s evolution in the final installment of the original Evil Dead trilogy included steam-powered weaponry. Spinning blades, deadly spikes, and a giant weaponized plow were all attached to the Oldsmobile, transforming it into the Deathcoaster. It was then used to fight off waves upon waves of Deadite soldiers at Castle Kandar.
The Oldsmobile is actually one of director Sam Raimi’s longest-running easter eggs across all of his films.
Almost all his movies feature the same cream-colored car, either cleverly hidden in the backdrop or stealing the show front and center.
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