Cars That Ate Paris, The / Cars That Eat People, The (1974)

Cars That Ate Paris, The / Cars That Eat People, The (1974)

“You ever seen a bloke with a foot up his nose?”

When his brother (Rick Scully) is killed in a freak car accident in Paris, Australia, a meek man (Terry Camilleri) ends up living with the town’s paternalistic mayor (John Meillon) and his wife (Melissa Jaffer), gradually learning more about how Parisian citizens survive on scavenged items from intentional accidents, the local doctor (Kevin Miles) performs lobotomizing operations on the survivors, and rebellious youths race their “odd-looking automobiles”.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Australian Films
  • Horror Films
  • Mad Doctors and Scientists
  • Peter Weir Films

Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary writes that “Peter Weir’s debut was this creepy, comical, unsettling, one-of-a-kind ‘horror’ film” about a “shantytown off the beaten track” filled with “weirdos”. He notes that “Weir completely keeps viewers off guard” so that while “we laugh”, the “sinister environment makes us feel uneasy.”

He describes this most unusual flick as a “send-up of youth/drive-in films, westerns (a stand-off is filmed like a Sergio Leone shootout):

… and horror films” — but “it can also be seen as an attack on Australia’s car culture, the acquisitive materialism of the bourgeoisie, and the oppressive autocracies present in small towns.”

It’s hard to know what else to say about this movie except… it’s weird. Really weird. Be forewarned.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Memorable imagery

Must See?
No, though it’s worth a one-time look for its cult status and historical importance in Australian cinema.


One thought on “Cars That Ate Paris, The / Cars That Eat People, The (1974)

  1. First viewing. Not must-see, though certain cult film fans are likely to have interest.

    To me, this Twilight Zone-esque film reflects the anti-outsider feelings that can spring up in certain communities – particularly communities that fall prey to an ‘island mentality’ (whether the inhabitants are actually physically on an island or have created that ‘island’ in their minds).

    Director Weir is to be applauded for his ability in developing a simple idea without (thankfully) stretching it beyond its worth. (Wikipedia tells us the script was originally conceived as a comedy – that’s evident – but that it grew darker as Weir developed it into its screenplay.)

    Overall, the film reveals Weir as a filmmaker of talent – though it definitely has an odd (occasionally shifting) tone to it and viewers need to just stick with it for its pay-off.

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