"Always focus on the front windshield and not the rearview mirror." - Colin Powell
This year alone, there have been more than 45 million cars produced. It is estimated that there are one billion cars in use in the world today. Cars get us from point A to point B. Most of the time. So what of those instances where people don't reach their destinations? Or when they get there, they now have to burden some kind of secret they picked up along the way.
Here are ten suspenseful films involving car accidents and mishaps. Drive safely.
I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER 1997 Directed by Jim Gillespie
On the cusp of finally leaving their coastal community after high school graduation, four teenagers accidentally run over a man on July 4th. They then make a pact to dispose of the body and never tell the authorities. One year later, someone who knows their secret is out to both expose them and take revenge.
The characters in this somber teen slasher from 1997 made a bad decision. Although they were not punished by the law, they dealt with some heavy consequences. Their dreams of escaping their stagnant hometown were dashed by constant guilt and paranoia. And there was also the matter of a killer wearing a slicker coming after them while brandishing a fisherman's hook.
THE MONSTER 2016 Directed by Bryan Bertino
While delivering their daughter to her father, a mother's car breaks down on a desserted road. As they wait for help, a terrifying creature lurks outside.
If you are a fan of The Babadook, The Monster has some similarities. For one, the relationship between the mother and child is strained at best. The mother is obviously a mess, and it's for the best that her daughter not be under her care anymore. And secondly, there's a supernatural element at play that is raising the drama level. Unfortunately, Monster shares something else with The Babadook: the characters are grating and really off-putting. Even more so. The mother here is in fact written to be so unpleasant that viewers may find it hard to muster sympathy for her or the situation at hand. This creature feature is better made than others and the practical effects make the movie worth at least one watch.
PENNY DREADFUL 2006 Directed by Neil Marshall
To help a patient with a phobia of cars, a therapist drives her to a retreat. Along the way, they have a flat tire after picking up a strange hitcher. The therapist goes for help, leaving the patient alone. Or so she thinks.
The premise and setting for this obscure thriller are both creative, but the execution is admittedly flawed.
DEAD END 2003 Directed by Jean-Baptiste Andrea, Fabrice Canepa
A family's car gets a flat tire on a desserted back road while driving to see relatives on Christmas Eve. As they try to get back on the road, the family experiences a serie of bizarre events.
Ray Wise and Lin Shaye lead the cast in this fun indie horror comedy about a father who breaks a twenty-year routine to take a shortcut. The biggest problem would be the uninspired twist ending.
WRONG TURN 2003 Directed by Mennan Yapo
A man taking a shortcut through the West Virginia woods crashes into the car belonging to a group of stranded people. Together, they look for help, but end up being hunted by cannibals living in the forest.
This slasher doesn't paint West Virginians in a flattering light, but Wrong Turn is a good, bloody time if you're in the mood for some backwoods terror.
DUEL 1971 Directed by Steven Spielberg
A businessman traveling across a California desert is pursued by a malicious driver in a rusty tanker.
There is no accident here that kicks off the story, but road rage is a serious problem nonetheless. Steven Spielberg's debut film was originally a television-made movie, but due to its popularity, more scenes were filmed for a theatrical release. Even today, few if any other car-based thrillers have come close to the quality of Duel.
FENDER BENDER 2016 Directed by Mark Pavia
After having a minor car accident with a stranger, a teenager exchanges insurance information with the other party. At home, she is punished by her parents and left home alone. This is when the other driver from the accident decides to pay her a visit.
Before Chiller went belly up, they aired an original movie that was surprisingly chilling and grim. Fender Bender is part home invasion and part slasher. The ending is bleak.
REEKER 2005 Directed by Dave Payne
A group of friends driving to a desert rave get stranded at a seedy motel after having some car trouble. There, they begin to die as a foul-smelling killer hunts them down one by one.
Reeker stands out among other modern slashers because of its twist ending, which may be excessive for this type of movie.
HIT AND RUN 2009 Directed by Enda McCallion
After a night of drinking, Mary drives home. She hits something, presumably an animal, and continues driving. The next morning, she awakens to find that she did hit something - a man. And now he's impaled on her bumper. Rather than reporting her crime to the cops, Mary buries the body. But her paranoia won't go away - and the victim may not be dead after all.
This torture flick is loosely based on the 2001 murder of Gregory Glen Biggs. There is a slightly better movie, Stuck, inspired by the same case. But that film, starring Mena Suvari, is more of a drama. There is also an Indian movie from 2010 called Accident on Hill Road that is more or less a remake of Stuck. Hit and Run is a trashy splatter film that may satisfy anyone who wants to see some bad people get what they deserve.
THE HILLS HAVE EYES 1977 Directed by Wes Craven
On the way to California, a family's car breaks down in a remote part of the desert. Unfortunately for them, a group of dangerous locals are watching them, waiting to attack.
The popular 2006 movie of the same name is a remake of Wes Craven's 1977 cult classic. While the modern adaptation fits perfectly in the 2000s, the original feels more guerilla.
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FFA QUESTION Do you ever get road rage?
- I will list ten horror movie titles, but each title has had specific words replaced with synonyms. - Example: "I Am Aware of What You Performed the Previous Dog Days" is actually "I Know What You Did Last Summer." - Be the first to answer all 10 (or the most of everyone who plays) correctly, you win. One winner per game. - The prize: A $10 E-gift card for Atom Tickets, Fright Rags, Lyft, or Sephora. Your choice.
Keep an eye out as there will be various mini-contests posted randomly in my series of ONTD Halloween posts.