It’s October, so let’s get spooky. But how spooky can cars really be? These ten cars from horror movies, books, and TV shows aimed to find out. As always, the rankings are entirely mine and done with all the deliberation of a chimpanzee determining which part of the termite mound he’s going to stab. Feel free to chime in with any that I’ve missed.
10. Leo’s Purgemobile
The best installment of the wildly-profitable Purge franchise is 2014’s The Purge: Anarchy. Trust me on this one. Mysterious anti-hero Leo Barnes does his purging in a black 2011 Dodge Charger Pursuit, albeit one modified with a bullbar, armored panels, and some barbed wire. The Dodge Charger Pursuit is famously a police car, but those aforementioned modifications give it the edge to place it in a dystopian world. You wind up with a car that is much like the Purge series as a whole: muscular, undeniably American, and kind of disturbing
9. The Wraith
If the ‘80s were distilled into a single machine, it would be the Dodge M4S (now known as the Turbo Interceptor) from the largely forgotten Charlie Sheen vehicle The Wraith. Though the movie is far from a classic, the machine at the center is. This UFO is a serious car, nearly killing a stunt driver when he arrived on set. The filmmakers actually had to tone this Dodge M4S down for the finished product. Yes, the car was too much beast for an ‘80s movie about a street racing ghost.
8. Grandpa’s Car
“Do you know the rule about filling up the car with gas when you take it without asking?”
“No, Grandpa,” Michael says, as he and a troupe of juvenile delinquents burst in, carrying a pair of sleeping vampires.
“Well, now you do.”
Grandpa gets all the best lines in 1987’s The Lost Boys, and it’s a movie brimming with great ones. The car they’re talking about is a blue and white 1957 Ford Fairlane 500 Skyliner, and the winner of the “car on this list I wish I owned” award. It’s hard to beat a Ford Fairlane for sheer classic Detroit goodness, and the Skyliner variant—that means a convertible—only makes it better. Sure, unlike Grandpa’s 1968 Toyota Land Cruiser, the Ford doesn’t do any vampire-slaying, but give it a break. It’s hard being that pretty.
7. The Addams Family Car
I don’t know if this qualifies as an instance of the Mandela Effect, but it’s close: in their two ‘90s movies, the Addams Family didn’t get around in a hearse. In fact, it’s a 1933 Packard V-12, but that’s an easy mistake to make. The Addamses certainly carried more than one body in it. I’m cheating a bit in this entry, because it allows me to add the bizarre little three-wheeler Cousin Itt shows up to Uncle Fester’s party too. It’s an actual vehicle called a Messerschmidt Kabinenroller. Its number of wheels and years in production were the same: three. That number seems high.
6. Raimi’s Ride
Sam Raimi owns a 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88, and he wants you to see it. Because his first film, Evil Dead, was made on a shoestring budget, he used his own car for the car the doomed teens drive. This became a tradition with him, and the “Classic,” as it’s been nicknamed, has a cameo in every movie he makes. While its most famous appearance is in the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man films, my favorite is Army of Darkness, in which antihero Ash turns it into a bizarre steampunk zombie-killing tank. It’s fair to say that this treatment voids any warranty.
5. Mystery Machine
The Scooby gang’s vehicle of choice might be the most iconic selection on this list. Modeled on one of those ‘70s panel vans that doesn’t look right without a wizard on the side, the Mystery Machine is a cartoon, so there’s some debate over what it’s supposed to be. For the live action movies from 2002 and 2004, the filmmakers settled on a 1972 Bedford CF. It’s not a bad choice for teenaged sleuths solving monster-related mysteries that somehow always involve real estate. The Bedford CF was widely used in Britain as riot vans, prisoner transport, ambulances, the Post Office, construction, and yes, even ice cream delivery.
A relative newcomer on the scene, the black 1938 Rolls-Royce Wraith bearing the license plate NOS4A2 (that’s pronounced “Nosferatu,” for those like me who didn’t get it the first time around), absolutely deserves a spot on the list. The car of Christmas-obsessed maybe-vampire Charlie Manx, the NOS4A2 has an impressive pedigree in that it’s the brainchild of Stephen King’s actual child, author Joe Hill. For funereal elegance, it’s tough to beat a Rolls, and the choice of the Wraith model—well, it seems like the engineers were trying to make this a horror icon.
I’m going to guess that a lot of people reading this aren’t familiar with the long-running paranormal action show Supernatural. Ask your kids about it. What you will like is the car that our demon-hunting heroes get around in, lovingly christened “Baby.” For sheer badassitude, it’s hard to beat a black 1967 Chevy Impala. In the early development, the brothers drove a ’65 Mustang, but a friend of the creator’s talked him out of it, saying of the Impala that, “you can put a body in the trunk.” More dealers should talk about trunk space that way.
When Ray brings the vehicle home that will one day be christened the Ecto-1, it’s framed as yet another questionable financial decision by the Ghostbusters’ resident rube. Despite this, there’s not a single person who came of age in the ‘80s who wouldn’t give their left arm to own it. The Ecto-1 is a heavily modified 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor Futura Duplex. I ran out of breath typing that. With its distinctive lines and off-tune siren, the Ectomobile strikes the perfect balance of being recognizable as an emergency vehicle and looking like something out of a mad scientist’s daydreams.
There’s no way a list like this could leave off perhaps the most famous horror car of all time, the eponymous villain of the Stephen King novel and John Carpenter adaptation, Christine. She’s a red 1958 Plymouth Fury and—spoiler alert—she’s alive and homicidal. It’s an odd choice for a haunted car, because with her nautical lines and stately bearing, the Fury is well, not exactly furious. King chose her for two reasons. The first is he’s a child of the ‘50s and there’s not a car out there that isn’t more ‘50s than the Fury. The second links the murderous and implicitly feminine Christine with the mythological Furies. The lesson is, as always, make sure your models have cool names.