Sleek And Spooky: The 10 Best Classic Halloween Movie Cars – Forbes
It’s been a long time since we’ve driven a truly scary car.
The 1985 Yugo immediately comes to mind, a sputtering claptrap of a vehicle that even when new felt old and worn and had the mechanical life span of a fruit fly. Or there’s the government surplus right-hand-drive Post Office Jeep we once owned (and no, not on a dare) that was frightening in its own right, especially when driven at speeds greater than 25 mph.
But the really scary cars, like scary clowns, are in the movies. In the (otherworldly) spirit of Halloween, we present 10 classic cars that either wreaked havoc or were central to an admittedly oddball assortment of horror/sci-fi themed films.
- The 1958 Plymouth Fury from Christine (1983).
Based on a Stephen King novel and directed by John Carpenter, this is essentially a love story about a boy and his demon-possessed killer car. It’s like Chuckie with tires or Bette Davis’ psycho character in Hush…Hush Sweet Charlotte (1964) reincarnated as My Mother the Car. Back in 2015 Barrett-Jackson auctioned off the original furious Fury featured in the film for $198,000.
- The 1971 Chevrolet Nova SS 396 from Death Proof (2007).
Kurt Russell played the deranged former Hollywood stuntman who kills – but takes an awful long time being killed – behind the wheel of a classic big-block V8 muscle car in this Quentin Tarantino grindhouse epic.
- The 1971 Lincoln Continental from The Car (1977).
See, this is why people are wary of autonomous autos: Here, a big black non-hot-rod Lincoln must have left the factory with a bad attitude (worried about the ensuing auto-industry downsizing perhaps?) and takes to inciting nasty hit and run collisions. Sheriff James Brolin protects his small town from the killer car.
- The 1955 Peterbilt 281 tractor-trailer from Duel (1971).
Stephen Spielberg’s directorial debut – a made-for-TV effort at that – finds a mild-mannered traveling businessman played by Dennis Weaver (TV’s McCloud) being relentlessly harassed by the (unseen) driver of a hulking tractor-trailer. This is the nightmare of anyone who’s ever been tailgated on an interstate highway.
- The black semi-truck wearing a giant Green Goblin mask from Maximum Overdrive (1986).
A murderous big rig – and at that one having an odd sense of humor – leads a pack of cars and trucks turned into killing machines by a passing comet…or was it really a UFO? This fright fest that was not only based on a Stephen King-based film, it was directed by the master of horror himself.
- The 1981 DeLorean DMC-12 from Back to the Future (1985)
Doc Brown’s DeLorean emblazoned the term “flux capacitor” into the modern lexicon. Retaining this ill-fated stainless-steel-bodied sports car’s signature gullwing doors, Doc’s intensely modified version could travel through time upon reaching exactly 88 mph (which took longer than one might think, as the original iteration took nearly nine seconds to reach 60 mph). Perhaps Marty McFly should have gone back in time to convince John DeLorean that drug trafficking wasn’t such a good way to prop up a struggling auto company.
- The “Ecto-1” from Ghostbusters (1984).
Spirits are wreaking havoc with New York City, with Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson taking them to task in a modified long-wheelbase commercial chassis 1959 Cadillac Miller Meteor Ambulance. Already a rarity with only around 25 ever produced, two became full-blown Ecto-1 models for the movie, with several replicas created by Universal Studios for touring, theme park use, and exhibition. Like 2016’s Ghostbusters reboot, the latter-day Ecto 1 (based on a 1980’s Cadillac hearse) comes close to capturing the charm of the original, but unfortunately falls short.
- The 1963 Volkswagen Beetle in The Love Bug (1968).
Here’s another film in which a car somehow becomes a sentient being. Only this being a Disney film, the concept is played for big laughs rather than horror, with the title character having more of a mind to be a racecar than a cold-blooded killer. As it is, an old VW Beetle with a mind of its own and mischievous manners palling it up with Buddy Hackett and fostering a romance between virtuous Dean Jones and sweet Michele Lee is already a bit creepy.
- The “Drag-U-La” from Munster Go Home (1966).
Classic TV’s family version of the Famous Monsters of Hollywood travels to England in this film spinoff to claim an inheritance, and Grandpa fabricates this famed coffin car to help hapless Herman win a race that’s somehow essential to the dead-on-arrival plot. The Drag-U-La was fabricated from an actual fiberglass coffin, packed a 350-horsepower Ford Mustang V8 engine, rode on Firestone racing slicks at the rear, and was festooned with a tombstone grille, spider headlamps, and an exhaust fashioned from pipe organ pipes.
- Any of the Batmobiles.
Comic book characters always make popular Halloween costumes, and Batman’s ride of choice is as much a central figure to the Caped Crusader’s exploits as Alfred the Butler. We’re particularly partial to the George Barris version created for the campy 1966 television show (it was based on a Lincoln Futura concept car from the mid-1950’s) but likewise admire the later more-muscular iterations crafted for the Tim Burton and Christopher Nolan Batman films. “Atomic batteries to power – turbines to speed…”