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Carmageddon It! Screw the LA Pileup with These Rough and Tumble Car Movies

Carmageddon It! Screw the LA Pileup with These Rough and Tumble Car Movies

If you are lucky enough to live in Los Angeles this summer, the city of sun, insanity and soul-destroying traffic, what better way to celebrate the closure of the 405 freeway (a.k.a. Carmageddon) and the death of your Westside weekend social life than with a marathon of classic car-themed movies this weekend.

From horrors and thrillers to road-trip movies and comedies, we’ve compiled a list of 12 movies with cars that can either terrorize, taunt, titillate or inspire you while you stay home. Trailers and descriptions are below.

But first, slap yourself in the face with this 1954 promo video touting the “greatest highway system in the world.”

“The Car”
James Brolin stars as a sheriff against a possessed car that terrorizes everyone in this 1977 film directed by Elliot Silverstein and berated by critics for its entertainingly bad acting and plot.

Steven Spielberg’s take on the evil car sub-genre (and his first feature) pitting a Plymouth Valiant against a tanker truck and its psychotic driver. The tagline: “A duel is about to begin between a man, a truck and an open road. Where a simple battle of wits is now a matter of life and death.”

“Death Proof”
Quentin Tarantino’s 2007 film features a charming and psychotic Kurt Russell as a man who uses two “deathproof” cars, a 1970 Chevy Nova and a 1969 Dodge Charger, to murder women. Rose McGowen and Rosario Dawson are among his prey.

“The Driver”
Since you can’t see Ryan Gosling in Nicolas Winding Refn’s “Drive” yet, see this. This 1978 Walter Hill film features Ryan O’Neal as a specialist in the getaway driver business, who becomes the target of a hot shot detective, played by Bruce Dern. And yes, there’s a girl, too: Isabel Adjani.

John Carpenter’s 1983 horror film about a supernaturally evil 1958 Plymouth Fury (“Body by Plymouth, Soul by Satan”). Adapted from Stephen King’s novel, the film is set in 1978 and follows Armie Cunningham (Keith Gordon), a high school nerd who’s life changes when he discovers the red hot car and begins restoring it.

“Thelma & Louise”
Ridley Scott’s classic 1991 road-trip movie written by Callie Khouri, which made history with stars Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon in the driver’s seat of a 1966 Thunderbird, leaving men in the dust and for dead while on the run toward freedom and self-discovery. NYT: “Their adventures, while tinged with the fatalism that attends any crime spree, have the thrilling, life-affirming energy for which the best road movies are remembered.”

“Jeepers Creepers”
In this 2001 film from writer-direct Victor Salva, a brother and sister (Justin Long and Gina Philips) take the long way home in their 1960 Chevy Impala and quickly regret it as a monster truck (1941 Chevy COE) and its evil and body-part-hungry driver terrorizes them.

The Harold Ramis directed film, written by John Hughes, that started it all for the National Lampoon series with Chevy Chase playing Clark Griswold. As David Kehr says, “Despite plenty of gross-out gags and dumb slapstick bits, the careful viewer can occasionally detect some acrid and original satire in this 1983 film.”

“The Wraith”
A young Charlie Sheen stars in this 1986 film about a kid who is murdered by a gang and returns as a mysterious figure with a fast car (a Dodge prototype, the M4S) and starts his revenge killings on the gang members. Nick Cassavetes, Sherilyn Fenn and Randy Quaid co-star.

“Taxi Driver”
Martin Scorsese’s 1976 film with Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Albert Brooks, Harvey Keitel, Leonard Harris, Peter Boyle and Cybill Shepherd, about which the Washington Post says; “Since the mid-1970s, the movie has become presciently emblematic of our emotionally diseased, violence-prone culture.”

“Gone in 60 Seconds”
Angelina Jolie + Nicolas Cage + Cars.

French director Quentin Dupieux’s 2010 film follows Robert, an abandoned tire that for no apparent reason comes to life. Turns out he is possessed by terrifying telepathic powers that allow him to destroy things, like trash… and women.

And a bonus track… An enterprising marketer for “Planet of the Apes” pieced together this nifty short:

[Brian Brooks contributed to this article]

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