Skip to main content
road sage

Halloween is up for grabs this year. Like everything else, COVID-19 has put the kibosh on it. Will kids be allowed to trick or treat? Will candy-givers deliver their confections via drain pipe or hockey stick? Will somebody dress up as a sexy kitten?

We can always, however, rely on the Halloween car horror movie. The automobile has always been scary, and its speed and metallic carriage have made it a perfect fit for the cinema. A list of the great car horror movies would start with John Carpenter’s Christine (which starred a 1958 Plymouth) Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1972 Ford Club Wagon) and Steven Spielberg’s The Duel (955 Peterbilt 281 gasoline tanker truck). It could go on and on.

On the downside, what these movies lack is realism. Sure, a 1958 Plymouth that is diabolically jealous of its owner’s affection and murders its rivals is spine-chilling, but everyday driving has plenty of eerie and mysterious twists and turns. How about we see some of these? Just in time for Halloween, here are some real-life car horror movies I’d like to see.

Check Engine Light: While on a tranquil drive in the country, a young couple sees a yellow glow on the dashboard. It looks like an oil can, no wait, a yellow video recorder from the 1980s. Below it lie the words “Check Engine.” A quick scan of the manual reveals that it can mean anything, as long as it’s bad. Mortified, they bicker for two hours over what to do until they finally drive onto the mechanic’s lot, unaware of the terror that awaits them.

The Passenger: Beware! Her bare feet on the dashboard are only the beginning! This passenger takes you for a ride!

The Warranty: The day Jennifer Choi buys her first car is the best of her life until the salesperson suggests an extended warranty called “mechanical-breakdown insurance.” It will cover air conditioning, engine, fuel systems and much more. And so, as a coven of salespeople chant demonic hymns in front of a flaming Camry, Jennifer signs her name in blood on the extended warranty. Satan appears! He tells a horrified Jennifer that, while the warranty covers anything not associated with driving, it does not cover “damage caused by accident, normal wear and tear, non-mechanical items, wear of any kind, anything to do with the car, anything to do with the car going nowhere, anything to do with the car not going anywhere.” And the deductible? Her soul.

Check Engine Light II – A Rude Awakening: A 76-year-old retiree living in Edmonton sees the dreaded symbol on her dash and spends $1,500 to make it go away, only to find that is was triggered by a loose fuel cap.

A Roadwork Orange: Set in the dystopian future of 2021 when developers rule the world, it traces the rise and fall of Alex, a foreman who, leading his “banda” of workers, derives sadistic pleasure from doing “Ultra Roadwork” – tearing up streets for nihilistic traffic-congesting kicks. After reworking the same road eleven times for no reason, Alex is arrested. In prison he endures the “Bike Lab” technique. His eyes pried open, he must watch car-crash videos and PBS documentaries about cycling infrastructure in Copenhagen. Rehabilitated, he returns to society and paves bike lanes, but his troubles are far from over …

The Shining: A driver on a rural highway is temporarily blinded by high beams from oncoming traffic.

I Know You Were Banned Last Summer: Inspired by the real-life story of 60-year-old Timothy Fraser, who was recently pulled over for speeding by the Ontario Provincial Police and found to have eight separate lifetime driving bans. I Know You Were Banned Last Summer tells the story of a group of youthful friends – all of whom have been found guilty of criminal driving and decide to keep driving anyway. Each summer, they are banned. Each summer, they return. Can anyone stop them? You know, put them in jail? No, we must wait until they kill someone while driving and then say there was nothing we could have done about it.

The Birds: Pigeons cover a newly washed Ford 150 in avian excrement.

Rosemary’s Bimmer: A cross-asset financial engineer’s world turns into a living nightmare when she buys a BMW X6 only to learn she could have bought a BMX X7 for less than $5,000 more. Also, she gives birth to the Antichrist.

Get Out: Paul Hobart knows he’s making good time as he does a controlled 120 km/h in his Acura TLX on the highway. Suddenly, a silver Audi Q3 appears before him in the passing lane doing 70 km/h. Paul flashes his lights, but the SLOW-poke in front doesn’t react. Frustrated, Paul passes in the right lane. Relieved, he continues his journey. On the next turn, the Audi reappears, crawling along in the passing lane. Like Sisyphus rolling his rock, Paul tries to PASS again and again. Each time, the Audi reappears. Paul descends into madness, screaming over and over “What kind of boot-licking loiter-sack buys an Audi and doesn’t know how to drive it?” Paul finally arrives home, turns off the engine and, as he walks to his door, looks back to the driveway – there he sees the silver Audi Q3. He was the boot-licking loiter-sack all along.

Coming soon to a theatre near you … if they ever reopen.

Stay on top of all our Drive stories. We have a Drive newsletter covering car reviews, innovative new cars and the ups and downs of everyday driving. Sign up today.