Road trips very rarely turn out well in horror movies. Chances are, if you get in a car, that car is going to breakdown, run out of gas, or crash, all of which will leave you in a perilous situation with no means of escape.
When it comes to breakdowns, sometimes it’s the fault of the driver, but more often than not, there is some evil force at work to make sure that your escape vehicle is taken out of commission. Let’s take a look at some of the best breakdowns in horror history caused by things ranging from barbed wire, encroaching zombies, and suicidal crows.
10. Final Destination (2000)
In Final Destination, you can forgive the characters for thinking they had any say over when they live and die because it’s the first movie in the franchise, and they didn’t have loads of newspaper clippings of past deaths to pore over. So when Carter decides he wants to die to be with his girlfriend Terry, and then changes his mind, Death has other plans.
Carter stops his car on a railway crossing but decides to dramatically pull away at the last moment. Unfortunately for him, Death is now in the car with him, causing the engine to fail, the doors to jam, and the seatbelts to stick. Carter only survives because Alex rips him out of the car window seconds before the train hits.
9. Silent Hill (2006)
Silent Hill gives us another example of an unseen force making someone’s car break down. While Rose is racing to find the town of Silent Hill before she’s pulled over by the police, she swerves to avoid hitting a little girl in the road, causing the car to crash.
However, when Rose wakes up, the car is completely dead, and her daughter, Sharon, is missing. The lack of escape options means that Rose has no choice but to venture into the town of Silent Hill to find answers and a way home.
8. Husk (2011)
By this point in the list, it’s clear that evil forces are really not above taking your vehicle out of commission so that you’re stuck in a remote location and can’t escape. In Husk, the evil forces are a cursed cornfield and a hivemind of scarecrows, meaning that the crows in the area are also on the bad side.
When our team of main characters is driving past the haunted field, their SUV is pelted by an inhuman amount of crows, covering the window in crow gore. The incident causes the SUV to run off the road and get stuck in a ditch, meaning our group has to venture into the cornfield in the hopes of finding help.
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7. Wrong Turn (2003)
Most car breakdowns in horror movies are caused by an external force, and the cannibal family in Wrong Turn are not above puncturing a few tires to capture their next meal. While Chris is rushing to get to an interview, he decides to take a backroad and promptly crashes into the back of another car parked in the middle of the road.
Containing the group of people Chris is about to be running for his life with, it turns out they are stuck there after they blew out all their tires. While this may seem like it could have been an accident, we soon find out it was due to some barbed wire someone ‘left’ in the middle of the road.
6. House of Wax (2005)
House of Wax is a good example of why you should never annoy the locals, which is exactly what Carly, Wade, Nick, Paige, Blake, and Dalton do when they park on some land a little too close to the murderous wax town of Ambrose. Nick makes things worse by slinging a bottle at Bo when he comes to investigate the teens, and so, Wade wakes up in the morning to find the fan belt on his car has mysteriously broken.
When Carly and Wade head into town to get a replacement, the exact size of fan belt they need is mysteriously missing. This could have something to do with the fact it’s Bo that runs the gas station, and he orchestrated the whole thing to lure more victims for his wax-loving brother, Vincent.
5. The Battery (2012)
When Ben and Mickey find an abandoned car in the middle of the road amid a zombie apocalypse, they think their worries may be over for a little while. However, a run-in with a couple of other survivors sees Ben shot and their car keys thrown into the nearby grass. Unable to find the keys as darkness sets in, the pair decide to sleep in the car overnight.
The reason they find their car immobilized in the morning is it is completely surrounded by zombies. Not only are they unable to make a break for it, especially with Ben’s injured leg, but they also can’t even drive away because the car keys are still missing!
4. The Mist (2007)
The ending of The Mist has to be one of the most shocking and depressing scenes in movie history, and it all comes about because the group’s car runs out of gas in a really unfortunate place.
With no gas to keep them moving, and the mist monsters enclosing around them, David decides the best course of action is to shoot his young son and his three friends, and then hope the monsters will eat him before he has to suffer for too long. Of course, it turns out the army was right behind David, ridding the world of monsters as they go. So maybe if the car had broken down a little earlier, everyone in the car would have survived.
3. Tourist Trap (1979)
It’s been a while since we’ve had an unseen force messing with a car, so let’s talk about the wonderful piece of cinema that is Tourist Trap. With one car already suffering from a flat tire, Jerry’s car also suddenly stops working, and our main group of friends finds themselves stranded at the side of the road.
Enter the super friendly and very creepy Mr Slausen, who offers to help them fix the car back at his place. However, it turns out Mr Slausen has psychic powers and was using them to stop the car from working the whole time. Much like Bo in House of Wax, Mr Slausen uses the broken-down cars to lure in hapless teens before brutally murdering them.
2. Cujo (1983)
Cujo has such a basic premise, and yet it is one of the most terrifying Stephen King films out there. Donna and her son Tad drive to a remote house in their town to get their car fixed. While there, they find out the mechanic’s dog, Cujo, has been bitten by a rabid bat and is now a giant killing machine. Unfortunately for Donna and Tad, their car has chosen to stop working for good and they are trapped.
Donna is forced to choose between potentially being mauled by a rabid dog, and trying to help her son escape from a car which is a deadly level of hot in the daylight. Trapped in the car, and with nowhere to go, it’s terrifying to watch Cujo smash himself against the car windows, trying to get to the people inside.
1. The Hills Have Eyes (2006)
There are a few common themes in this list, and cannibal families bursting your tires with sharp implements thrown into the road is definitely one of them. The cannibal family in The Hills Have Eyes are smart because they have their accomplice at the gas station sending hapless families their way to become tomorrow’s dinner, so they are always ready to spring a trap.
When the Carter family barrel into cannibal town with their giant trailer, they soon find all their tires burst on a hidden spike strip which is quickly retracted out of sight, keeping the cannibals’ presence hidden until they attack the family after it gets dark.