When I watch a movie, there are two of me in the same seat. There’s that regular movie-going guy who likes blood and boobs and things that explode, the kind of movies we call POPCORN MOVIES. But there’s another fellow who accompanies him. This guy likes some of the same things as his friend, but he is a seeker and connoisseur of SERIOUS CINEMA. This guy doesn’t just want to see a movie, he wants it to change his life. POPCORN: Dude, why we takin’ a cab? CINEMA: The Mitsubishi finally died. I’ve gotta make the rounds and find something new. Hey, don’t you have a car? POPCORN: Yeah, I don’t know where it is. Amidst squealing tires, the taxi arrives. It’s old, black, and beat-up, but vaguely familiar. The engine is rumbling and grumbling more than the average cab. It sounds like one bad-ass automobile. The driver, fiftyish, wild-eyed, cigarette dangling, peers out at them. Cam Johnson: Y’all call for a cab? Well, hurry up, we ain’t got all day. “All good clean fun have another stick of gum man you look better already Motorhead, remember me now Motorhead, alright . . .” – Motörhead CINEMA: Downtown, please. Cam Johnson: Gotcha, pal. Pedal to the medal. POPCORN: What we lookin’ for, dude? Aston Martin? Trans Am? ECTO-1? CINEMA: What I’m looking for is cheap, financed, and probably lame as hell. POPCORN: Dude, Cheech and Chong’s van in UP IN SMOKE. Made outta marijuana. Ain’t no brownie, but . . . CINEMA: Shut up. Just . . . shut up. What I’d really like is the Batmobile. Cam Johnson: Batmobile? Sorry, pal. Name’s Cam. The cabbie turns around, while driving, extending his hand. Cinema quickly shakes his hand, glancing at the traffic around them. Cam Johnson: Which Batmobile you into? CINEMA: Well, um, I really like them all. But I’m partial to the original from the TV show. Cam Johnson: The George Barris. Ford Futura, with a few-a them Hollywood modifications. Not bad, not bad. We could probably find ya an old Futura. Me, I’d want the Tumbler from them new movies. That sumbitch could get through anything. Horns are honking. Cam starts searching through the thickening traffic. POPCORN: Naw, dude. The Tim Burton ride was sweetest. Cam Johnson: It’s alright, but ain’t real. The Tumbler, buddy . . . it’s got a beefy 350-cid Chevy V8, 37-inch off-road tires, independent front suspension. That mother can hit 60 miles an hour in five seconds. Damn thing is so real that they crashed one out in L.A. A sudden dash to the left, then the right, nearly sideswiping an old pickup. Brakes screech. Cinema’s eyes are big. Popcorn seems to notice nothing. CINEMA: At this point, I’d probably even go for the Mirth Mobile from WAYNE’S WORLD. POPCORN: Excellent. CINEMA: It comes with custom flame decals and a cassette deck. POPCORN: How ’bout some kinda fixer-upper like what’s-his-face had in BETTER OFF DEAD? CINEMA: Lane Meyer, played by John Cusack. That was, I think, a ’69 Camaro. Cam Johnson: ’67, pal. POPCORN: Heh, Cusack was like you in high school. Except he could draw, had a girlfriend . . . and a car. So, yeah, I guess not at all. CINEMA: Laugh it up, fuzzball. Besides, the car spent most of the movie under a tarp on his front lawn. His girlfriend had just left him for the captain of the ski team. He had very little self-confidence, or knowledge. Definitely not enough to tackle restoring that Camaro. And he wanted to die – hence, the title of the movie. POPCORN: Enter the ooh-la-la. CINEMA: Ah, yes, the French exchange student. When he walks outside to find her under his car . . . one of my favorite scenes. She’s covered in grease, which somehow makes her even more beautiful – Cam Johnson: Usually does. CINEMA: Cut to the repair montage. She shows him what he has to do, literally guiding his hands in replacing axles and engine parts. Then that Muddy Waters tune starts playing. The Camaro pulls out onto the road. Lane slips up beside those Japanese guys who’ve left him in the dust so many times, with Monique there at his side . . . POPCORN: She brought that car back to life, man. CINEMA: She brought Lane back to life. Frankly, that movie ruined me. I thought that, when it finally came, love would look like it did with Lane and Monique. Wheels squealing, the cab cuts around a line of cars and dashes toward the Interstate. Popcorn and Cinema are flung back into their seats. Cam Johnson: Love’s more like a wreck on the highway, pal. Ain’t worth riding it if it ain’t got wheels. Ya know, that first generation of Camaros, ’67 to ’69, is some of the most collected, restored, and modified cars out there. Most stolen, too. POPCORN: I read somethin’ about that car. This dude rented BETTER OFF DEAD all the time when he was in college. Like, VHS all the way. Kinda like when we got it from Blockbuster for, like, the fiftieth time or something. Remember? That one chick you really dug was workin’ there. Heh-heh. You slinked up to the counter, all like, hey baby, you wanna restore my love – CINEMA: Is there a point within sight? POPCORN: Oh yeah. So the dude – it was, like, twenty years later or something. The dude saw the movie again and started wonderin’ about the Camaro. He got, like, the license plate number, then got ahold of the DMV. Got the VIN number and tracked that shit down to some other dude in California. I mean, this guy was really in love with that car. Cam Johnson: Been there, bud. POPCORN: The owner was, like, yeah, it’s in rough shape, I kinda lost interest in it. Dude’s, like, you wanna sell it? Gets on a plane, gets out there and the car is . . . you know, under a tarp. Just like in the movie. CINEMA: Wow. POPCORN: I know, right. Dude brings it back to Florida, wherever the hell he lives. And that Camaro looks even worse than when Lane had it. So he, like, starts restorin’ and stuff. New seats, tinted windows. Replaces the engine. Some kinda Iron Eagle something, cylinder heads. Turbo transmission, a bunch of other shit I don’t know about. CINEMA: And then . . . POPCORN: Then what? He makes sweet love to that car every night. Man, I dunno. I mean, I don’t live with the dude or nothin’. That was kinda the end of the story for me. Scenery is flying past outside the cab. There is sweat on Cam’s forehead, his hands gripping the wheel. He keeps looking in the rear-view, but Cinema has noticed that he’s not looking at them. He’s looking for someone behind them. POPCORN: Hey, dude. Who we racin’? “Wound it up to a hundred and ten speedometer said that I hit top end foot was glued like lead to the floor that’s all there is, there ain’t no more . . .” – Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen CINEMA: What kind of cab is this anyway? Cam Johnson: You boys ever see that show SUPERNATURAL? They nod, but Can isn’t waiting for their answer. The car is soaring down the highway. Cam Johnson: There’s an Impala on that show. ’67 hardtop, 502-cubic inch big block, Hotchkiss performance suspension, V8 rumblin’ like a sumbitch, as you already heard. That’s one bad-ass, demon-fightin’ mofo right there. Well, you are in that car, brother. POPCORN: Huh. CINEMA: Huh. That’s why the logo looks a bit slapped on. Wait, this is the car? I mean, the actual . . . Wheels are screaming. Highway traffic, suddenly stopped. They swerve, then come to a jolting halt behind a sixteen-wheeler. The sign on the truck says DRIVE CAREFULLY. CINEMA: Oh shit. POPCORN: Damn, dude. You some kinda gearhead? Cam Johnson: You could say that. Been tinkerin’ ever since I was knee-high. But I do a lot more than just drive. POPCORN: So you’re to cars like Ebert here is to movies. Cam Johnson: If he’s any good. How ’bout it, pal, you any good? Cinema appears stunned, possibly afraid. He opens his mouth to speak but his words take too long. Cam is watching him intently. POPCORN: He’s solid, dude. Hey, real quick, the most bad-ass cars in movies. Cam Johnson: The ’67 Pontiac GTO Vin Diesel drives in XXX, except that it’s purple. We’d have to give it a new coat. Maybe that customized job from MAD MAX, a ’73 Ford Falcon Interceptor. Loud, fast, and it just looks mean. You could get somewhere in the Charger from THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS too. More or less the same car as the General Lee – CINEMA: – and DIRTY MARY CRAZY LARRY. Cam Johnson: Right on, brother. POPCORN: Dude, the Mach 5. You know, Speed Racer. Cam Johnson: Yep. Still watching Cinema more than the traffic ahead. POPCORN: The car in REPO MAN glows, dude. That’s pretty sweet. I’d say the Jeepers Creepers van, but ain’t no chick gonna ride with you. Kinda liked the car in TOMMY BOY – Cam Johnson: That was a ’67 Plymouth Belvedere GTX. I crashed that thing. POPCORN: No shit, dude? Cam Johnson: No shit. POPCORN: Best one ever, though, dude . . . you see COBRA? CINEMA: I don’t really think he cares. Cam Johnson: That hurts, pal. I always care about automotive. Can either of you boys guess which movie car is my favorite? CINEMA: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang? Cam Johnson: Ha, listen to this guy. POPCORN: Christine? Cam Johnson: Ah, the ’57 Plymouth Fury, an offshoot of the Belvedere. Nobody really cared much about that car until they seen it in that movie. POPCORN: Dude, that scene where she’s, like, rollin’ down the street on fire – Cam Johnson: Yeah? POPCORN: Yeah. Cam Johnson: No, that ain’t it. POPCORN: How about THE WRAITH? Ever see that? Punk-rock gang making folks race for pink slips. Dude, you got Charlie Sheen . . . and Sherilyn Fenn’s all up in there, being hot as usual. Opie’s brother is some dude called Rug-head. Randy Quaid is the law. There’s dead people showin’ up with their eyes burned out, some 80s metal, and this, like, ghostly kinda dude in a bad-ass ride . . . Cam Johnson: Never seen it. CINEMA: You seem a bit more like the GONE IN 60 SECONDS type. 1974, Toby Halicki, drive-in classic. You know, the one where a bunch of car thieves are given just five days to steal forty-eight cars. Cam Johnson: You know about all those old movies? POPCORN: Dude, don’t even get him started. CINEMA: I can tell you that Halicki left New York for California when he was fifteen years old, allegedly because his mother refused to let him get his driver’s license. Cam Johnson: Oh yeah? CINEMA: Oh yeah. POPCORN: You got him started. CINEMA: Forty dollars in his pocket, he got a job pumping gas. Halicki ended up with his own garage and wrecking yard. He was busted for being in an auto theft ring, but they couldn’t get anything to stick. But then, when he scraped together the shoestring budget to make a movie, guess what it was about? Cam Johnson: An auto theft ring. CINEMA: He didn’t really have a script going into it, just an outline with some plot points and a little dialogue. With his dream in mind, he acquired almost 200 cars to be used in the movie. He would be the main character and do all of his own stunts. He was driving the Mustang when it got clipped. It spun out of control, smashed into a light pole at a hundred miles an hour. Cam Johnson: Damn. CINEMA: He survived, but everyone said he never walked right again after that. He was working on a bigger, more elaborate version of the original when he died. Then that douche-bag Jerry Bruckheimer got ahold of it. Cam Johnson: Remake’s got the original Mustang, though. CINEMA: It does. So, Cam, which movie car is your favorite? Cam Johnson: You called it, brother. Gone in 60 seconds, that’s what I was soon as I saw that car. 1973 Mustang, Mach 1. They called her Eleanor, but I called her love. And yeah, car theft rings is a subject that I’m familiar with. Sirens begins to wail in the background. The DRIVE CAREFULLY truck makes a quick right without signaling. Apparently that’s the cue. The Impala jumps to life, screeching around the turning truck. Cam curses under his breath. And then floors it. Cam Johnson: If you boys ain’t wearin’ your seatbelts, this might be a good time to put ’em on. “Adrenaline starts to flow thrashing all around acting like a maniac Whiplash!” – Metallica POPCORN: Uh . . . dude? Cam Johnson: It’s the fuzz. My old lady musta turned me in. Hang on, I can shake ’em, then we can still get you boys to the used car lot. CINEMA: Um, that’s not necessary. You could just let us out right here – Cam Johnson: Ain’t no cop car around can keep up with this baby. CINEMA: Oh shit. The Impala is roaring. Weaving around other cars, tires digging into the rumblestrips on the side of the highway. Hauling ass, shaking. No sign of stopping. Somewhere behind them, police sirens are screaming in frustration. Cinema turns to see them bogged down in traffic. Struggling to move more than a few feet at a time. POPCORN: Sweet! CINEMA: Oh shit, oh shit. POPCORN: Alright, dude. Real quick, best car chases. CINEMA: This might not be the time. POPCORN: You think of a better time? Cam Johnson: I’m kinda partial to BULLITT myself. Another bad-ass Mustang, and another bad-ass driver behind the wheel. What do you say, pal? You got anything on that one? The speedometer needle is buried. The Impala is a jet vibrating down the highway shoulder. Everyone is shouting to be heard now. Popcorn is saying something about always wanting to drive on these rumble things. Cam is laughing. CINEMA: Oh shit oh shit oh shit, um – the, uh, the mayor of San Francisco made a deal with the producers. If they picked up the dime for a public pool, they had a city to film in. They . . . um, oh shit. They took about three weeks to shoot, but – Cam Johnson: The scene was only about ten minutes long. CINEMA: Yep, yep. Nine minutes and forty-two seconds. Still considered by many to be the best car chase ever. No effects, just . . . stunt drivers. Dodge Charger and Steve McQueen’s Mustang, flying . . . flying through the air above those San Francisco streets. POPCORN: Dude did his own driving. CINEMA: Most of it. The car topped out at 124 miles an hour – POPCORN: Dude, we’re beatin’ that right now! Check it out! CINEMA: No, I don’t want to. Oh, God. So, the, uh . . . the camera, there was a portable movie camera. It was used by the military in World war II. They, uh, used it with a suction cup vehicle mount. It was the first time ever for a movie. First time they got to bring the audience into the car like that. The rumble beneath the car deepens, slowing down. Then they are flying onto the exit ramp. Cam Johnson: It was a GT Fastback with a 390-cubic inch V8. The GT’s four-speed wouldn’t need to be double-clutched like you hear in the chase, but they thought it sounded cool. They used the sound of a Ford GT40 for dramatic effect. Weaving in and out of cars on the ramp, rumbling toward downtown. Cam Johnson: And I hate to be the one to break it to ya, pal, but Steve only did about ten percent of his own driving. The rest of it was Bud Ekins, Steve’s friend and Hollywood stuntman. So you boys got a favorite car chase? POPCORN: Shit, dude, this one. Cam is laughing. Cinema is watching the stop light as it glides from ahead of them to above them. And then behind them. Popcorn starts waving at other motorists. POPCORN: Dude, I just seen NEED FOR SPEED the other day – Cam Johnson: Yeah! CINEMA: Don’t even try to tell me that was good. POPCORN: Dude, I told you. You gotta lower your expectations. It makes everything better. And, like, experience that shit in the spirit it’s given. Know what I’m sayin’? Don’t go into it expectin’, like, acting or lookin’ for some deep plot. It’s a car movie, man. It’s got some sweet-ass cars doing shit you’d wanna do if you had one-a those sweet-ass cars. Cam Johnson: Amen, brother. Like haul ass and explode. CINEMA: I want to say VANISHING POINT is my favorite car chase . . . Cam Johnson: No shame in that. CINEMA: But, in reality, it’s when Zoe Bell is on the hood of that same Challenger in DEATH PROOF. (sighs) As a matter of fact, that’s my favorite Tarantino movie. “Fires in the Northlands floods to the south put the pedal to the medal and let it all hang out . . .” – Clutch With the screech of tires and the stench of burnt rubber, the Impala thuds to a halt in the parking lot of a downtown car dealer. Salesmen and shoppers alike turn to look. There are no audible sirens yet, but they are certainly not far behind. Strangely, neither Popcorn nor Cinema leap from the car as soon as it stops. Cam Johnson: Hey, uh, no charge for the ride. POPCORN: Real quick, dude. Best car movie ever. Cam Johnson: I think you already know what I’m gonna say, buddy. POPCORN: Dude, it’s BLOOD CAR. For real, check it out. Cam Johnson: Heh-heh, I will. What about you, college man? CINEMA: Well, there’s an Iranian director named Abbas Kiarostami. He made a film called TASTE OF CHERRY, about this middle-aged man who drives around in search of someone to bury him after he commits suicide. It’s almost like a companion piece to TWO-LANE BLACKTOP, in that it – The distant mewl of sirens stops the conversation. Popcorn and Cinema climb quickly from the Impala. Cam grins at them and flips a cigarette into his mouth. Cam Johnson: Well, boys, I got a date. Then he’s gone. The guys stand in the parking lot for a long time, watching his taillights fade. A few minutes later, several police cars race past in search of Cam Johnson. But he’s already faded into the vanishing point. “Told my girl I’ll have to forget her rather buy me a new carburetor so she made tracks saying this is the end now cars don’t talk back, they’re just four-wheel friends now . . .” – Queen POPCORN CINEMA will return in two weeks with something special for after school. Don’t you dare miss it. Meanwhile, feel free to drop a comment or click a ‘Like’ . . . it makes the guys feel good. POPCORN: Dude, really. We go through all that, and you end up with the Mirth Mobile? CINEMA: Shut up, Garth. Without which the world of automotive movies (and TV) would be nowhere: THE FRENCH CONNECTION, THE ITALIAN JOB, AMERICAN GRAFFITI, THUNDER ROAD, THUNDER ALLEY, DEATH RACE 2000 (seriously . . . you’ve gotta see this movie), LE MANS, GRAND PRIX, James Bond, STARSKY AND HUTCH’s Grand Torino, SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT, KNIGHT RIDER, DUKES OF HAZZARD, MAGNUM P.I.’s Ferrari 308 GTS, BACK TO THE FUTURE’s DeLorean DMC-12, 48 HOURS’ 1964 convertible Cadillac DeVille, whatever the hell Cruella Deville was driving, the car from THE CAR (designed by George Barris, who was responsible for the first Batmobile), the Shaggin’ Wagon from DUMB AND DUMBER, FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF’s car that Cameron’s dad loved more than life itself, Sam Raimi’s Oldsmobile Delta 88, the customized 1982 Ford F-350 rocket-car from BUCKAROO BANZAI, KILLDOZER, DEATH CAR ON THE FREEWAY, WHEELS OF TERROR, BLACK CADILLAC, JOY RIDE, FERAT VAMPIRE, SUPERVAN, HIGHWAYMEN (a horror movie featuring both a Cadillac Eldorado and a 1968 Barracuda), Dragula, Steve McQueen, THE GUMBALL RALLY, CANNONBALL RUN, THE LOVE BUG, THE DRIVER, DRIVE, REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE, BONNIE AND CLYDE, TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A., THE ROAD WARRIOR, MAD MAX: FURY ROAD, THE TRANSPORTER, THE BLUES BROTHERS, THE CARS THAT ATE PARIS, Godard’s WEEKEND, MERCEDES MON AMOUR, HOLY MOTORS, L’AUTOSTOP, Ida Lupino’s THE HITCHHIKER, TAXI DRIVER, RUSH, CORVETTE SUMMER (though Mark Hamill could probably do without it), DRAGSTRIP GIRL, DRAGSTRIP RIOT, THE RACERS, ROAD RACERS, THE ROAR OF THE CROWD, THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS, MIAMI VICE, Colt Seaver’s GMC pickup in THE FALL GUY, Fred Sanford’s 1951 Ford truck, THE GREEN HORNET’s 1966 Chrysler Imperial, the Mystery Machine, HARDCASTLE AND McCORMICK’s 1971 Volkswagen Coyote X, THE A-TEAM van, the LOST Volkswagen, DAYS OF THUNDER, TAXI, CARS, THE YELLOW ROLLS-ROYCE, THE GREAT RACE, IT’S A MAD MAD MAD MAD WORLD, THOSE DARING YOUNG MEN IN THEIR JAUNTY JALOPIES, NO MAN’S LAND, the ’71 ‘Cuda from PHANTASM, Carey Lofton, Hal Needham, and John Glen, the Dude’s 1973 Gran Torino, Fozzie’s Studebaker, the VW bus from LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, the Griswold family car, Tucker’s Torpedo, Flounder’s brother’s Lincoln, Charlie Babbitt’s Buick, Buck’s Pussy Wagon, Greased Lightning, Bumblebee, the Thunderbird from THELMA & LOUISE, The Little Mule, Little Bastard, the dad’s Porsche in RISKY BUSINESS, Ben’s Alfa Romeo in THE GRADUATE, the flying 1914 Ford Model T, the Shaguar, 1977 Concordia II from BLACK MOON RISING, RONIN, STUNTMAN, SUGARLAND EXPRESS, BELLFLOWER, the Marines’ Armored Personnel Carrier in ALIENS, the truck from THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES, the cars from those BAD BOYS movies, Jefferson’s Camaro, Gadget’s Lincoln, Joe Dirt’s Daytona, Mr. Miyagi’s Ford, the evil cars and trucks of MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE, car shows everywhere, and COBRA . . . did we already mention COBRA? 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