Last year Steven Spielberg crammed an insane number of pop culture nods and Easter eggs into Warner Bros. Ready Player One, and it included horror in major ways. Now, Warner Bros. is partnering with Mattel to bring a Hot Wheels live-action feature film to the big screen. Horror has no shortage of iconic vehicles; memorable cars and trucks that exude evil or simply exist as tools for terror. So, here’s to hoping that we may see some famous horror movie cars return to the big screen for the Hot Wheels feature film in the future. But in the meantime, here’s a look at the most dread-inducing, iconic cars the genre has to offer.
Christine – ’58 Plymouth Fury
Based on a Stephen King novel of the same name, and directed by John Carpenter, Christine features the most famous horror movie vehicle of all time. The malevolent Plymouth Fury that possesses her owner and has a serious jealousy streak even made a brief appearance in Ready Player One. But only briefly, so it’s not too much to ask for another, larger role in Hot Wheels, right?
Phantasm – ’71 Plymouth ‘Cuda
This stunning car didn’t just become famous for being a beauty, but also because it featured heavily in the entire franchise, especially as they took on a road trip format. Originally belonging to older brother Jody, ownership passed to hero Reggie Bannister, and the ‘Cuda became a major tool in the fight (or flight) against the Tall Man. The Phantasm ‘Cuda even has a website dedicated to it, as well as a famously angry rant by horror host Joe Bob Briggs dedicated to the car’s destruction in Phantasm II.
The Evil Dead series – ‘73 Oldsmobile Delta 88
The Delta, dubbed the “Classic”, is the car that Ash Williams and friends drove to that fateful cabin in the woods in Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead, and it’s never left Raimi’s side since. Whether abandoned cabin side, or used as Ash’s chariot in battle in Army of Darkness or Ash vs Evil Dead, the Delta is a staple of the series. And not just the Evil Dead franchise, but all of Raimi’s works – he sneaks it into every one of his films. So, the Delta is perfect for Easter egg appearances.
Death Proof – ’70 Chevy Nova
Stuntman Mike’s customized Chevy Nova, complete with a roll cage, makes the car death proof. But only for him. As for his victims, it’s a pretty vicious tool of destruction and dismemberment. It’s also a pretty slick looking ride with a great paint job, and that skull and lightning crossbones on the hood helps catapult it to instantly recognizable status. Mike might have revealed himself to be not such a tough guy in the end, but his Chevy Nova is still a badass.
Duel – ‘55 Peterbilt 281
Steven Spielberg’s feature debut presented one menacing villain in the form of a rundown 1955 Peterbilt 281 tractor unit. For David Mann, a traveling salesman, the lesson of being courteous on the road comes at a steep cost when he pisses off the wrong driver. In this case, it’s the unseen driver behind this massive truck. It then spends the rest of the film terrorizing David, trying to get revenge and run him down. Like Christine, this truck has a whole lot of evil personality.
Maximum Overdrive – Western Star 4800
Loosely inspired by the short story “Trucks”, this Stephen King film followed a group of survivors holed up at a truck stop when a comet causes all machines to become sentient and homicidal. The primary villain is the Western Star 4800 tractor unit, rendered identifiable by the massive Green Goblin mask on the grill, and the Happy Toyz logo against the black paint on the trailer.
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre – ‘72 Ford Club Wagon
The green van that takes Sally Hardesty, her paraplegic brother, Franklin, and friends Jerry, Kirk, and Pam, across Texas to check on the grave of Hardesty’s grandfather plays a major role in the horror that befalls them. The decision to pick up a hitchhiker leaves the van marked by blood the he smears along the side while exiting, a horror-filled experience for the group on its own. It only goes downhill from there once they pull into the gas station owned by the patriarch of the cannibalistic clan that will pick them off one by one. It may look like a hippie van, but this Club Wagon acted more like a hearse.
The Birds – ‘54 Aston Martin DB 2/4
James Bond doesn’t hog the market on cinematic Aston Martins. Tippi Hendren also made it look like a stylish accessory in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. Her character, Melanie, drives into the town of Bodega Bay for the weekend to visit love interest Mitch, but finds herself ominously followed and attacked by birds. In this film, her Aston Martin constantly dangles salvation in her face, only for the swarming birds to take it away again. Sometimes being rich gets you nowhere.
Halloween – ‘77 Chevy Monte Carlo
John Carpenter’s Halloween doesn’t usually pop up in conversations surrounding iconic cars in horror movies, but the debate about how Michael Myers’ ability to drive still rages on 40 years later. So, it’s only appropriate that it make the cut. The most memorable car in the film isn’t one that Myers drives, but one he uses as a setting for the brutal death of Annie Brackett – he strangles her from the backseat of her own car just as she’s about to leave to go pick up her boyfriend.
The Car – ‘71 Lincoln Continental Mark III
Like Christine, this cult horror film features an evil car with a mind of its own. Unlike Christine, though, this evil black car has no driver in which to possess, just a serious taste for homicide. It’s up to a local town sheriff to outwit and stop the car from slaughtering more. The 1971 Lincoln Continental Mark III in the film was customized.
Cujo – ’78 Ford Pinto
This Pinto is memorable for being one of the most unreliable in horror history. For Donna Trenton and her young son Tad, the car becomes their only form of shelter, or prison, against a very rabid St. Bernard when the alternator goes out. Between the vicious dog and the scorching sun, this car earns a spot on the list for being a memorable death trap for the lead protagonists. Luckily, the film has a much happier ending than Stephen King’s source novel.
Elvira: Mistress of the Dark – ‘59 Ford Thunderbird 76A
The film’s story begins with the horror hostess road tripping from L.A. to Massachusetts, and of course, she’d do it in style. Enter her Macabre Mobile, a decked out, customized Ford Thunderbird convertible that Cassandra Peterson knew fit Elvira’s personality the moment she saw it. The tricked out car has every bit of Elvira’s personality on display, and Peterson fell for it so hard she eventually bought it back from the person who purchased it after filming, put a lot of work into restoring it, and even put it on display in a museum. In Elvira: Mistress of the Dark, her Thunderbird is just as much of a sidekick as pet poodle, Algonquin.
Ghostbusters – ‘59 Cadillac Miller-Meteor ambulance/hearse conversion
The Ecto-1 is just as much of an icon as the four central characters that start up a successful ghost removal business. In the film, Dr. Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) finds the car shortly after mortgaging his mother’s house to buy the fire station. For just under $5,000 he repaired and customized the vehicle to store all of the ghostbusting equipment, and added an eye-catching logo to boot. Nothing says Ghostbusters quite like the Ecto-1.