The Cars That Ate Paris


1h 31m 1974
The Cars That Ate Paris

Brief Synopsis

A small town in rural Australia makes its living by causing car accidents and salvaging any valuables from the wrecks.

Film Details

Also Known As
Cars That Ate Paris, Cars That Eat People, The
MPAA Rating
Genre
Comedy
Adventure
Horror
Mystery
Release Date
1974
Production Company
Panavision, Ltd.
Distribution Company
New Line Cinema; New Line Home Entertainment

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 31m

Synopsis

Portrait of an Australian shantytown that supplements its economy by engineering auto wrecks.

Film Details

Also Known As
Cars That Ate Paris, Cars That Eat People, The
MPAA Rating
Genre
Comedy
Adventure
Horror
Mystery
Release Date
1974
Production Company
Panavision, Ltd.
Distribution Company
New Line Cinema; New Line Home Entertainment

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 31m

Articles

The Cars That Ate Paris -


Australian filmmaker Peter Weir's satiric first feature is streets away from the quiet intensity of his moody Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975) and the hushed apocalyptica of The Last Wave (1977). Beating George Miller's Mad Max (1979) to the punch as a reflection of the Aussie mania for motor vehicles and open road, The Cars That Ate Paris (1974) reboots the legends of coastal wreckers of past centuries, who lured merchant ships to their doom in order to plunder their cargos for profit. In the antipodean backwater of Paris, Australia, the locals (led by Crocodile Dundee's [1986] John Meillon, subbing for Weir's first choice, Donald Pleasence) deal with economic blight by causing horrific road accidents, from which they salvage not only luxury items and car parts but the lobotomized survivors, whom they warehouse in an area hospital for future medical experimentation (a plot point apace with Roland West's 1925 Lon Chaney silent The Monster). Australian cinema's first film shot in anamorphic widescreen garnered international recognition at the Cannes Film Festival, where it was screened out of competition due to its violent content. Weir's use of automobiles retrofitted with cartoonish spikes and animal fangs inspired Roger Corman to produce Death Race 2000 (1975) while The Cars That Ate Paris was distributed in the United States in 1977 as The Cars That Eat People.

By Richard Harland Smith
The Cars That Ate Paris -

The Cars That Ate Paris -

Australian filmmaker Peter Weir's satiric first feature is streets away from the quiet intensity of his moody Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975) and the hushed apocalyptica of The Last Wave (1977). Beating George Miller's Mad Max (1979) to the punch as a reflection of the Aussie mania for motor vehicles and open road, The Cars That Ate Paris (1974) reboots the legends of coastal wreckers of past centuries, who lured merchant ships to their doom in order to plunder their cargos for profit. In the antipodean backwater of Paris, Australia, the locals (led by Crocodile Dundee's [1986] John Meillon, subbing for Weir's first choice, Donald Pleasence) deal with economic blight by causing horrific road accidents, from which they salvage not only luxury items and car parts but the lobotomized survivors, whom they warehouse in an area hospital for future medical experimentation (a plot point apace with Roland West's 1925 Lon Chaney silent The Monster). Australian cinema's first film shot in anamorphic widescreen garnered international recognition at the Cannes Film Festival, where it was screened out of competition due to its violent content. Weir's use of automobiles retrofitted with cartoonish spikes and animal fangs inspired Roger Corman to produce Death Race 2000 (1975) while The Cars That Ate Paris was distributed in the United States in 1977 as The Cars That Eat People. By Richard Harland Smith

The Cars That Ate Paris/The Plumber


Australian director Peter Weir has a string of big-budget studio pictures to his credit, including The Truman Show (1998), Fearless (1993), and Dead Poet's Society (1989), with the upcoming Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003), starring Russell Crowe, set to dwarf its predecessors in size and scope. But it's good to keep in mind that Weir was also successful in his earlier years with a string of art-house staples that are remembered, despite their much smaller budgets, for their enigmatic power and haunting visuals. Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975), The Last Wave (1977), and Gallipoli (1981) were all titles that anchored themselves for long runs in small independent cinemas across the country. Now, thanks to a double-feature dvd release by Home Vision Entertainment, fans of Weir's work can view two of his often overlooked gems that, despite a limited release, never quite took hold of the art-house circuit. The Cars That Ate Paris (1974) was an ambitious freshman effort that combined dark comedy, horror, and western genres. The Plumber (1979) was a made-for-television thriller with a very limited theatrical run. Both films show Weir in full command of his craft as he veers between the soft-boil and the bombastic.

The Cars That Ate Paris had a memorable theatrical poster that featured a menacing Volkswagen "Beetle" covered with deadly spikes and looking like an infernal beast modeled after a giant motorized porcupine. It opens on a comedic note (a parody of a cigarette commercial that was familiar to Australian audiences of the time), and quickly shifts gears by plunging into mayhem and the bizarre as the survivor of a car "accident" is embraced by the small town community of Paris, Australia, only to discover dark secrets about its corrupt inhabitants. Things come to an inspired and tumultuous conclusion when the citizens of Paris find themselves battling their own renegade youth as nightmarish cars terrorize the town and crash through houses. A few years later, another Australian director, George Miller, would translate similar ideas into a huge commercial success with Mad Max (1979). Despite the seemingly clear connection between the two, Miller cites A Boy and his Dog (1975) as his primary inspiration, but Weir's film definitely sets the precedent.

In contrast to The Cars That Ate Paris, with its impressive sets and ambitious scenes, The Plumber is a modest but suspenseful and claustrophobic affair that pits a married woman, left alone in her university apartment, against a supposed resident plumber who makes things increasingly uncomfortable for her. Despite the fact that The Plumber is tacked on to the dvd as a bonus feature with a relatively short running time (77 mins and shot on 16mm), in some ways it's more the more effective of the two films, insofar as attention is riveted to credible threats and performances that don't get eclipsed by an eccentric universe. Whereas The Cars That Ate Paris is pretty "far out," The Plumber feels real. Special features on the dvd include interviews with Peter Weir and liner notes by Brian McFarlane (on The Cars That Ate Paris) and Neil Rattigan (on The Plumber).

For more information about The Cars That Ate Paris/The Plumber, visit Home Vision Entertainment. To order The Cars That Eat Paris/The Plumber, go to TCM Shopping.

by Pablo Kjolseth

The Cars That Ate Paris/The Plumber

Australian director Peter Weir has a string of big-budget studio pictures to his credit, including The Truman Show (1998), Fearless (1993), and Dead Poet's Society (1989), with the upcoming Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003), starring Russell Crowe, set to dwarf its predecessors in size and scope. But it's good to keep in mind that Weir was also successful in his earlier years with a string of art-house staples that are remembered, despite their much smaller budgets, for their enigmatic power and haunting visuals. Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975), The Last Wave (1977), and Gallipoli (1981) were all titles that anchored themselves for long runs in small independent cinemas across the country. Now, thanks to a double-feature dvd release by Home Vision Entertainment, fans of Weir's work can view two of his often overlooked gems that, despite a limited release, never quite took hold of the art-house circuit. The Cars That Ate Paris (1974) was an ambitious freshman effort that combined dark comedy, horror, and western genres. The Plumber (1979) was a made-for-television thriller with a very limited theatrical run. Both films show Weir in full command of his craft as he veers between the soft-boil and the bombastic. The Cars That Ate Paris had a memorable theatrical poster that featured a menacing Volkswagen "Beetle" covered with deadly spikes and looking like an infernal beast modeled after a giant motorized porcupine. It opens on a comedic note (a parody of a cigarette commercial that was familiar to Australian audiences of the time), and quickly shifts gears by plunging into mayhem and the bizarre as the survivor of a car "accident" is embraced by the small town community of Paris, Australia, only to discover dark secrets about its corrupt inhabitants. Things come to an inspired and tumultuous conclusion when the citizens of Paris find themselves battling their own renegade youth as nightmarish cars terrorize the town and crash through houses. A few years later, another Australian director, George Miller, would translate similar ideas into a huge commercial success with Mad Max (1979). Despite the seemingly clear connection between the two, Miller cites A Boy and his Dog (1975) as his primary inspiration, but Weir's film definitely sets the precedent. In contrast to The Cars That Ate Paris, with its impressive sets and ambitious scenes, The Plumber is a modest but suspenseful and claustrophobic affair that pits a married woman, left alone in her university apartment, against a supposed resident plumber who makes things increasingly uncomfortable for her. Despite the fact that The Plumber is tacked on to the dvd as a bonus feature with a relatively short running time (77 mins and shot on 16mm), in some ways it's more the more effective of the two films, insofar as attention is riveted to credible threats and performances that don't get eclipsed by an eccentric universe. Whereas The Cars That Ate Paris is pretty "far out," The Plumber feels real. Special features on the dvd include interviews with Peter Weir and liner notes by Brian McFarlane (on The Cars That Ate Paris) and Neil Rattigan (on The Plumber). For more information about The Cars That Ate Paris/The Plumber, visit Home Vision Entertainment. To order The Cars That Eat Paris/The Plumber, go to TCM Shopping. by Pablo Kjolseth

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1974

Re-released in United States on Video September 26, 1995

Released in United States October 10, 1974

Released in United States 1974

Re-released in United States on Video September 26, 1995

Released in United States October 10, 1974 (Australian premiere October 10, 1974.)