March 28, 2015

Movie Review: Killing Car

The other night is was scrolling through my Netflix queue looking for a movie to watch. I did not know what I was looking for, just something older that I may want to write about. I chose poorly and ended up with the 1954 science fiction feature Gog. What a bore that was, sure it had some interesting ideas, but I had no interest in writing about it. So, last night I went back to the well and stumbled across Killing Car. It had a release date of 1993 and had some interesting cover art. As I pressed play, I had absolutely no idea what I was in for. Some would probably say I struck out again.

The first thing to catch my eye was the copyright notice, it did not say 1993, it said 1989. It turns out the the movie was made in 1989, and probably some time before that as well, but lost financing or something happened that caused it to sit around until it got its final mastering done on tape, not film, prior to is 1993 release. Now, that seems interesting, until I get to the other part that caught my eye, it was directed by Jean Rollin. How did I not notice this before?

I learned long ago that Rollin is an acquired taste, an auteur that you need to prepare yourself for. You cannot jump right into a Rollin film as a beginner any more than you can jump into a Jess Franco movie. At the same time, he is also quite inconsistent. To be sure Killing Car is not one of his better movies, but there is something about this movie that I really liked.

Killing Car is a slow, methodically paced, often confusing, art house action flick. It is not about a car that kills, so much as it is about some sort of nebulous form of revenge that has a car at its center. An unnamed woman walks onto a junkyard, and steals a car. She kills the junkyard owner and chases down his girlfriend.

Now this is kind of humorous, the girlfriend grabs her gun (that I think she was sitting on), goes off running and stumbles across a group of hookers who are working a random road I'm the middle of the woods (and one is inexplicably carrying a hammer). Needless to say, they are all soon dead, but not after being stalked through a carnival. Yes, this movie is quote random.

Set up more like a chain of scenes than having a plot driven flow, as soon as she kills one person (or group of persons), she is on to the next stall and kill, with side adventures into night club dancing and modeling. All while being pursued by some lackadaisical police detectives, following the chain of murders (which are inexplicable linked by the placement of a toy car with each victim).

Killing Car makes little sense, it is a series of kills by a near silent woman. All of the people murdered are linked to some accident from a year before. I am guessing there was a car accident of some sort, but neither the accident itself nor the link of all the victims is ever explained.

Jean Rollin was clearly not on his game and I probably have no business watching this movie, much less liking it. It does not have much of a narrative thread, there are the scarcest of references to things that make the string make sense, and by make sense, I mean throwing in some reason to string the scenes together, no matter how thin the thread is. It is not really a good looking movie, but that may have to do with the version I saw looking like a twentieth generation VHS, or the fact it was originally mastered on tape and not on film. Still, aside from that worn, low detail look, there are still some interesting sequences. You can tell some thought was put into the screen composition.

Can I recommend this movie? Not really. I liked it a good deal, but I cannot expect anyone to really have any affection for what amounts to nothing more than a trifle in the latter stages of a career. Still, if you are up for something off the beaten path, or are only familiar with Rollin's better films, by all means, test your ability to remain conscious with Killing Car.

Recommended. (well...)

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