The Video Vacuum (thevideovacuum) wrote,
The Video Vacuum
thevideovacuum

THE CARS THAT ATE PARIS (1976) *

When I was a kid, my parents and I used to go to the (now long gone) video store, Phil’s TV in Salisbury where I used to rent some truly wonderful movies from the “Children’s Section” like Tron, Now You See Him, Now You Don’t, and countless other Disney titles.  Since I was only about five at the time, my mother forbade me from renting movies from the “Grown-Up Section”, but that didn’t stop me from wandering around and checking out the cool-looking video boxes found in the Grown-Up part of the store.  Usually if I saw a movie that looked promising (at least judging by the video box of course, the only natural way that a 5 year-old can judge a movie’s merits), I could usually talk my dad into renting it.  Like the time I found the video box for I Drink Your Blood and I Eat Your Skin (which preserved the double feature aspect of it’s original release) and told my dad to rent it and he did.  My mom naturally never let me watch a flick like that, but the next morning over some French Toast, my dad would give me the skinny on it.  If he said, “It was a good one”, then the movie was a good one.  If he called the movie a “stinker” though, then that was the kiss of death.  And if my dad held his nose while saying the word “stinker”, it was doubly dubious. 

 

One day, I saw a cool looking video in Phil’s called The Cars That Ate Paris.  It featured a Volkswagen Beetle with razor sharp teeth gobbling down some poor unlucky pedestrian.  I thought to myself, “This has to be great!”  I showed the box to my dad and he agreed that the movie looked promising so he rented it.  Of course, my mom wouldn’t let me watch a movie in which cars ATE people so she said I couldn’t watch it.  The next morning came and I was all ready to hear my dad’s review.  I kept picturing him saying “it was a good one”.  I mean we’re talking about a movie in which cars EAT people here folks, it HAS to be good.  Much to my surprise my father gave me the “stinker” review, complete with nose-holding.

 

Normally if my father gave out that dreaded rating, I would just shrug and say oh well, but this time I had to pry.  I had to know why this wasn’t a great movie.  I mean how could it not be?  I MEAN IT’S ABOUT PEOPLE GETTING EATEN BY CARS FOR CHRIST’S SAKES!  My dad responded with, “Well, the cars didn’t eat people and it didn’t take place in France.”

 

It took me 25 years to finally see this flick, but even a quarter of a century later, my dad’s review still stands:  The Cars That Ate Paris features cars that DO NOT eat people.  The thing doesn’t take place in France.  (It takes place in Australia.)  My dad WAS right:  The Cars That Ate Paris IS a stinker.   

 

Basically what we got here is a low budget version of Road Warrior, without the Warrior.  People in a small village cause out-of-towners to get into nasty auto wrecks and then they collect the scrap parts and sell them.  When a motorist actually survives one of their accidents, the mayor decides to make him a citizen of the town.  Things get really bogged down at this point until the decent final reel when some unruly punks in souped up cars use the town as their own personal demolition derby.

 

The Cars That Ate Paris marked the directing debut of Peter Weir, who would later go on to direct The Truman Show.  I don’t care if the man directed one of Jim Carrey’s best movies, this one still sucks.  While the last ten minutes of the flick where cars are getting smashed up left and right is okay, most of the movie is just plain weak.  Although a handful of people do end up getting ran over or get impaled on designer hood ornaments during this stretch of the film, it’s not nearly enough to make up for the excruciating first 75 minutes. 

 

The moral of the story:  Always listen to your father when it comes to shitty movies from Down Under.

 

AKA:  Cars.  AKA:  The Cars That Ate People.

Tags: action, c
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