When it comes to famous cars in film, director John Carpenter is probably best known for the film adaptation of a certain Stephen King novel about a demonically possessed Plymouth. Here’s a closer look at a few other Carpenter films and the now memorable classics this influential director of horror used to set the stage.
1978 Ford LTD Wagon (Halloween, 1978)
Moviegoers who could stand to open their eyes long enough to see Michael Myers behind the wheel naturally wondered how the psycho killer ever learned to drive despite having been committed to an asylum since the age of six. Supposedly, the Ford LTD in the opening scenes of the film was a last-minute rental Carpenter’s production company used for two weeks during the filming. The film crew installed a wire-mesh divider between the front and rear seats and, to make it more “governmental looking,” some Illinois state decals on the front doors.
1973 Volkswagen Thing Type 181 (The Fog, 1980)
When Carpenter went looking for a weird little car to show in a weird little movie about a Northern California fishing town under siege by a killer fog that shrouds 100-year-old leper zombies, he found a perfect choice in the VW Thing. In the movie, Stevie Wayne, the owner of the KAB radio station, drives this 1973 model. (Things were sold in the United States for just two years: 1973 and 1974.)
1977 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham (Escape From New York, 1981)
Aside from Cabbie’s Checker cab, the most memorable car from this classic Carpenter film is definitely the Cadillac with the fender-mounted chandeliers driven by The Duke. According to IMDb trivia, these two vehicles set the standard for “art cars” now commonly seen at Burning Man (a public art festival outside Reno, Nevada) and the annual Houston Art Car Parade.
1958 Plymouth Belvedere/Fury (Christine, 1983)
Plymouth introduced the Fury name in 1956 in what was basically a sport and trim package offered on the Belvedere. Only produced for two model years, two door V-8 Fury package Belvederes are now quite rare, which understandably raised the ire of many Plymouth fans when it was revealed that Carpenter smashed anywhere from 13 to 16 Belvedere/Furys (depending on the source) during the filming of Christine.
Freightliner FLC 120 (Big Trouble in Little China, 1986)
Proof of the old adage that it’s better to stick with what you know, Carpenter took a break from horror to direct this mid-’80s commercial flop staring Kurt Russell. Russell plays truck driver Jack Burton who gets himself into one corny fight and chase scene after another trying to help his friend, Wang, rescue a green-eyed damsel from some pretty freaky Chinatown bad guys. Burton’s truck, which he calls the “Pork-Chop Express,” is seen in numerous fights and chase scenes involving the Lords of Death.