'TIS but a little more than a week until AllHallows Eve, when witches and warlocks and ghouls and ghosties and even scarier things (Stephen Harper's haircut) prowl the night searching for fresh prey, immortal souls, brains, arterial blood and, respectively, enormous amounts of hairspray.
The usual safety admonitions apply: kids, be careful crossing the streets, be sure to wear reflective clothing, don't accept any unpackaged candy, and stuff your pockets with garlic, wooden stakes and a comb made of purest silver - just in case.
But what of the spooky rides that the paranormaltypes use to get around? On this spookiest of holidays, how about some horribly haunted hoopties, jitterinducing jalopies, venomously vampiric vans and colossally creepy convertibles. In short, it's a quick roundup of the scariest cars ever.
1958 PLYMOUTH FURY
We start with an obvious one: the bright red Plymouth from the 1983 Stephen King movie, Christine. Is your car acting up a little? Maybe it's possessed!
In the movie, Christine is a '58 Fury coupe that comes to life after being fixed up by nerdy Arnie Cunningham.
Almost immediately after coming into contact with Christine, Arnie begins to change, growing less nerdy,
more forceful, and somehow darker. Then, things get really weird.
Christine begins a horrible mission of revenge after a gang wrecks Arnie's restoration job, seeking out the various thugs and crushing them to death. Run inside and shut the door? No chance, that big ol' Plymouth is coming through the front entrance with a horrible vengeance that reflects the name emblazoned on the trunk: Fury.
What's more, Christine is completely indestructible. Scarily, any damage she takes on her hellish tasks can simply be regenerated and there's nothing more chilling than watching the final scene where the crushed and theoretically vanquished Plymouth is sitting in a mangled cube, when her grille begins to straighten out again. . . .
1955 PETERBILT TANKER
Another scary movie car, the rumpled grey Peterbilt of Steven Spielberg's Duel seems fairly innocuous - up
destinationchrysler.ca . destinationchrysler.ca . destinationchrysler.ca . destinationchrysler.ca until you see its grille filling the rear window. While the Peterbilt tanker has a driver, and a crazy one at that, we never see his face.
Thus, it's the sootbelching, oil-stained big-rig that takes on the personality of pure evil as it begins to torment the red Plymouth Valiant (aptly named) of David Mann. After passing the truck and annoying its driver somehow, Mr. Mann finds himself in a deadly game of cat and mouse, which finds the Peterbilt lying in wait for him at gas stations, trying to push his car into a train and chasing him along miles of empty, desolate interstate.
While there are no supernatural overtones to the story, the menace of the truck grows with each encounter until you can't help thinking that the Peterbilt is, like Christine, possessed by some kind of demon. It's an unstoppable force, huge
and grey and capable of crushing Mann at any time.
What's more, the plucky little red Valiant is perfectly matched as its engine is so feeble it can't escape the racing juggernaut and has to finally resort to trickery to send the tanker to the bottom of a cliff.
What's the moral of the story? Always be courteous to truckers on the road. Also, make sure your car has more get-up-and-go than a wheezy Plymouth Valiant, just in case.
1955 Porsche 550 Spyder
Time for a real-life evil car: the silver Porsche that killed James Dean. Having owned the car just nine days, Dean, cinema icon and amateur racer, was killed in a head-on collision. An accident? Or was the car . . . cursed?
Even by itself, the Porsche 550 Spyder was something remarkable. Extremely lowslung - it was reportedly able to drive under lowered railway crossing barriers - the 550 Spyder was a low-production volume racecar for the street. James Dean was actually banned from driving it while he was at work on his last movie, Giant, where his language coach gave him the nickname "Little Bastard." Dean subsequently had the phrase painted on the back of the 550 Spyder.
Foreshadowing? Obi-Wan Kenobi certainly seemed to think so. When James Dean showed actor Alec Guinness the little coupe, ol' Ben Kenobi picked up a disturbance in the Force: "If you get in that car you will be found dead in it by this time next week." In seven days, he was proven right.
There's nothing overtly sinister about the head-on crash that killed James Dean, just a case of inattention and a reminder of how dangerous the road can be. Afterwards though, strange things started happening.
The wreck of the 550 was bought from the insurance company by two amateur racing enthusiasts who used the parts in their own cars. One was subsequently killed in a car race, while the other is rumoured to have been seriously injured while driving a car with the engine from Dean's 550 Spyder. There are reports of the car injuring mechanics, transport drivers and would-be thieves, of falling off lifts and trailers and causing tow-trucks to lose control.
Who knows where the final resting place of Dean's 550 Spyder is? Well, pieces of it are all over the world. Maybe one of them was melted down and put into your car. . . .
Brendan McAleer is a freelance writer and automotive enthusiast. If you have a suggestion for a column, or would be interested in having your car club featured, please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Brendan on Twitter: @brendan_mcaleer.