The Cars That Ate Paris - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Cars That Ate Paris Reviews

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February 14, 2017
Like Edgar Wright's "Hot Fuzz" (2007), the action comedy which found its plot twist in the revelation that the conspiracy at the front and center of all the intrigue was actually a citywide phenomenon, 1974's "The Cars That Ate Paris" also buys into the idea that idyllic small town living can be a deadly force. In the film, we find that the minuscule Paris, Australia has malevolently been orchestrating car accidents as a way to exploit clueless passersby for their finances and for their medical potential. For those who perish in crashes, pricy items from suitcases are sold or utilized for economic gain. For those who survive, transportation to the local hospital, lobotomies, and eventual medical experimentation are givens.
It's difficult to say how long such practices have been going on, but because Paris is the metropolitan equivalent of Veronica Lake's petite profile, it's easy to come to the conclusion that its criminal offenses have gone unnoticed for so long that it's feasible most don't much realize that the wrongdoings running around so rabidly are actually wrongdoings.
But revolution arrives shortly after Arthur and George Waldo (Terry Camilleri and Rick Scully) come riding into town. Inevitably, George is killed, but Arthur survives, the city unexpectedly allowing him to skirt the usual routine of hospital housed horrors to take care of the mayor, Len Kelly (John Meillon).
Festering under Paris's seemingly idealistic surface, though, is a feud between the vicious older generation and the young punks they raised, who've become determined to overthrow the madness of Kelly and company's mad practices. The naive Arthur's sudden entrance into the cruel city turns out to be enough to incur anarchy.
And yet while "The Cars That Ate Paris" is frosted in a delectably bonkers storyline that seems fit for any classic American exploitation movie, it's never quite as fun as it should be. It's the first film writer/director Peter Weir, who would later find critical and commercial success with acclaimed films like 1989's "Dead Poets Society" and 1998's "The Truman Show," ever made, and that lack of experience shows. As it goes for several revered directors, a debut, while not always perfect, is able to provide insight toward the illustrious career to follow, whether such notions come through inspired stylistics or a particularly good storyline. In Weir's case, "The Cars That Ate Paris" boasts remarkable restraint and the ability to flavor seemingly minimal and dry comedic concoctions.
But Weir's mastering of those characteristics is precisely the film's problem: he treats the movie like it's a grindhouse's version of 1973's "Badlands" when we should be given a wild horror comedy romp. All is too languid, too understated, to ever really work. Material like this calls for sweaty mania, and Weir doesn't have the sensibility necessary to realize that he should be making inspired chintz, not high art within the grindhouse zeitgeist. For now we'll have to consider it a precursor to his beloved "Picnic at Hanging Rock," which would be released two years later and make him a hotshot within his profession.
February 6, 2015
The directorial debut of Peter Weir, who up until then had made short films, documentaries and TV shows in his native Australia. This film was inspired by a holiday Weir had undertaken in Europe, with strange towns he visited off main roads. It was financed by the Australian Film Development Corporation to the tune of $250,000, and made in little under a month, and it's a good schlock film. Paris, New South Wales is a seemingly peaceful town, but it has one hell of a dark undercurrent. The locals of the town, led by Mayor Len Kelly (John Meillon), arrange fatal car crashes to anyone who passes through the town, and they salvage the cars, and the survivors are lobotomised and kept for medical experiments. However, when Arthur Waldo (Terry Camilleri) and his brother, George Waldo (Rick Scully) are caught up in an accident where George is killed, Len spares Arthur and has him live in his family home. Big mistake, as Arthur has a dark past, and he uses this to his advantage to try and make an escape from Paris. It's a dark and disturbing film, but amazingly, it has a wickedly black sense of humour too. It has some great stunts as well, which come out well on film considering it was done for almost next to nothing. This got Weir's career off to an excellent start, and Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975) and Gallipoli (1981) soon followed.
November 12, 2014
Although it starts out pretty good, the characters are just plain weird, and the plot is sort of out there, little happens, and it just crawls along.
½ May 13, 2014
Monday, May 12, 2014

(1974) The Cars That Ate Paris

Not a very good early film from accomplished director Peter Weir which I've heard is like something coming from low budget movie king Roger Cormon. "Paris" as the movie is referring to doesn't have anything to do with 'Paris, France' except by name only. It only refers that name toward another town also called Paris residing in Australia. And it has something to do with a string of car accidents that happen there whenever a motorist rides through or ride near Paris- serious enough to create suspicion. Arthur Waldo (Terry Camilleri) is the star, and while driving through the countryside, end up in a fatal car accident, killing his brother who was sitting beside him at the passenger side. By the time Arthur resides around the Paris town, he's then greeted and then eventually ordered to reside with the mayor himself, who's looing after two children who're not his. At this point, viewers are obvious about it's circumstances about how, showing the 'why'. What's confusing about this whole movie is the fact that if there was ever a town that has a high automobile crash rate, would attract the attention of the country's gov't. And I also find it hard to believe that their were no other relatives living on other parts of the region making suspicious reports of possible murder.

And although, the film does carry on a good idea, it hasn't really put too much thought into it, ignoring the big picture. The only thing I did thought was amusing are the look of some of it's vehicles themselves which look like models for a George Miller's "Mad Max" movie. And looking at the cars themselves cannot save the movie either.

2 out of 4 stars
½ May 9, 2014
strange movie but watchable
September 18, 2013
Strange horror/comedy from Petr Weir has a subtle sense of humour and the usual grubbiness and oddball characters found in Australian cult movies.
½ May 2, 2013
Super awkward and creepily hilarious gem. Not bad for a debut movie
March 4, 2013
I don't think I am happier than when I'm watching Aussie movies from the 70s and 80s. 'The Cars That Ate Paris' is a misleading title for a number of reasons and yet it suits the film perfectly. Just a few years after 'Wake In Fright' presented a nightmare story of an out-of-towner trapped in a small community unable to escape, Peter Weir elaborated on that concept to create a creepy horror film about a small country town which orchestrates car accidents to fuel it's local economy. The only way into town is a small and treacherous road and anyone travelling in their direction is forced off into a steep ravine. If the travellers survive they are either lobotomised and locked up in a sanatorium for the local doctor to experiment on or they are selected to become new residents, at which point they are brainwashed. I love the movie. The stunt work is great, the performances are effective and the concept is totally surreal. We stopped making these types of movies midway through the 90s and it's really sad. We had such a distinctive approach to genre filmmaking and it's something we should celebrate and reclaim. Something that occurred to me when watching the movie was how often I drive through small country towns and see entire paddocks full of old wrecked and abandoned cars... it makes you wonder!! LOL
January 5, 2013
Exceptionally bizarre.
August 20, 2012
You can't connect the plot to any sort of pre-set formula. There's no real three act structure, and the character arc is ridiculous. Peter Weir made a stunning and unique debut, followed it up with a few more great films, but then he fucked up and made Dead Poets Society.
May 30, 2012
well, one of my friends explained this movie to me, and the entire time she's explaining it, I'm trying to think of why someone would come up with a plot this idiotic and retarded.
April 8, 2012
Peter Weir's early film is arguably one of his better films, if not so refined. This morbid black comedy is both horrifying and entertaining. One of the first true 'Ozploitations', it is definitely worth a see.
January 12, 2012
This feature debut from director Peter Weir is simple and interesting. However, I was confused by a lot of the characters motivations and there's not much in the way of resolution. So as an example of Ozploitation, I'm sure there is better choices out there.
September 25, 2011
At times wonderfully offbeat, bleak and kitschy, though unfortunately mostly dull and confusing, The Cars That Ate Paris is worth watching only if your a Peter Weir fan.
½ September 3, 2011
Yeah teach kids to find something to use in life from this movie...staying awake in class...
Super Reviewer
July 30, 2011
First off, this is Paris: Australia, not Paris: France. It's a charming little horror debut from Peter Weir that sits somewhere between Clockwork Orange and The Wicker Man. It is dated and would now be worth remaking, but for fans of Weir it's wonderful to see his early work.
March 2, 2011
Bizarre little Australian film about a town that causes visitors to crash their cars, then experiments on them, then have some sort of robot warriors style smack down. Bizarre.
½ February 7, 2011
The Cars that Ate Paris (1974) -- [5.0] -- I'm at a loss for this one. I saw the movie, but I'm still not sure what it's about. There's a town that sabotages drivers, all so the community can trade auto parts amongst themselves and hand the drivers (the ones who live) over to a doctor for medical experimentation. The town's adults live in fear of their own children, a punkish lot that patrol the town in tricked out cars reminiscent of "The Road Warrior." The mayor takes a liking to one of the auto victims, but both characters are aloof and enigmatic enough to defy audience identification or empathy. If there were a clear protagonist with a clearer objective, it might have helped me sort things out.
Super Reviewer
December 31, 2010
I found this movie confusing, slow, boring, and very strange. I wasn't sure if anything was actually going on. I wouldn't recommend seeing this movie.
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