Killing Car is one of Jean Rollin's last seen films and a rare departure from the vampire theme for which he is best known though it still maintains Rollin's signature mix of mysterious femme fatales and female flesh. The film centres on a strange Asian woman who steals an American car and then proceeds to shoot and kill anyone who gets in her way for no apparent reason. Truly bizarre and with more killings than the French revolution Killing Car is a surreal thriller with ghosts, prostitutes and a secondhand car salesman and as such is well worth 90 minutes of your time.
Whilst I try not to be influenced by other reviews when watching a film, it’s difficult to avoid the drubbing ‘Killing Car’ seems to have attracted, even from fans of its French director Jean Rollin.
There’s no doubt that to enter into the often improbable fantasy world of Rollin’s films, there is little to be gained nit-picking lapses in continuity or a lack of comprehensive story – if the film itself is a carefully constructed dreamscape, why dash it with issues limited to reality? ‘Killing Car’ attempts a kind of gritty revenge motif, and therefore exists somewhere in the real world, so the lapses in logic here are harder to overlook.
The radiant Tiki Tsang, in her only film, plays ‘the car woman’ – hers is the dream-state that floats through urban landscapes killing people – seemingly – inexplicably. So, when she is involved in a shoot-out at a functioning fairground, and no-one intervenes; when everyone she meets (be they photographers, prostitutes, antique-dealers) all happen to carry fire-arms that never appear to run out of bullets, it’s hard, as a viewer, to look past this.
Still, if you are able to suspend disbelief to such an extent, then there is plenty to enjoy here. There are a couple of good twists towards the end – in fact, I thought there might have even been a third twist, but that was not to be. And Ms Tsang is very charismatic as the harbinger of death, whether she is staring into space on the boat where she lives, elegantly making her way through a junkyard or a city or simply looming over her next victim.
There is a school of thought that opines that Rollin films are highly regarded because they are French – if they were made in America, for example, they would just be dismissed as bad films. I’m not sure, perhaps there is truth in this – there is a (too) lengthy travelogue set in New York in the middle of ‘Killing Car’, which makes for picturesque viewing. There’s no doubt though, when the action returns to the French rooftops, the atmosphere is served up in droves and provides, for me, the film’s highlights. Perhaps Rollin was simply more confident filming in his native country, who knows? His cinematography is breath-taking on home turf, there is little doubt about that.