96 Straight Minutes of Car Puns

How did they make the front cover for an animated film look green-screened?

Rev your engines because you’ll need the extra horsepower to make it through the grueling 96 minutes of torture that is the Asylum film “Car Go.”

In all honesty, I’m pretty excited. This is the first Asylum film that I’ve ever owned.

If you don’t know, Asylum is famous in the world of bad movies for the sheer quantity of low-quality, rip-off films they release. Since their first movie in the early 1990s, they have racked up an impressive list of 447 films, including their infamous lineup of children’s animated films and their slightly better received live action films like the “Sharknado” series or their work on the show “Z Nation.”

Owning a physical copy of an Asylum film feels like my first step into the mainstream of bad movies, as their films are some of the most celebrated for their lack of quality or coherence that you can find.

In case the name isn’t making it obvious, this movie is an attempt at ripping off the “Cars” franchise, specifically the third movie which was released around the same time. The movie uses the line “The city on 4 wheels” on its cover, which was really confusing throughout most of the movie. It turns out that the name of the city itself is Cargo, so what makes this city special in this world?

This movie has a similar universe to “Cars” in that every character is a sentient car.

So in this world, wouldn’t every city be on four wheels? Or does this hint that this is the only city of sentient cars, and other cities are inhabited by either humans or other sentient objects? Knowing this movie, though, I don’t think they put that much thought into such things.

As a quick aside, did you know that the “Cars” series actually takes place in a post-apocalyptic world? One of the creative directors for “Cars 3” stated that in his mind, the movies take place in a world where autonomous cars rose up, killed all the humans after deciding they were not actually needed and adopted the personality of their drivers to let them control their own destinations.

In my mind that is 100% canon.

Back to the worse film, it actually learned some lessons for the design of their vehicles from the “Cars” series, deciding to take their idea for the eyes — a lesson which older movies failed to learn. See, in “Cars,” the eyes of the vehicles were the windshield, making them look less uncanny. Hilariously, many of the rip-offs made the headlights the eyes, making all of their character look unnerving and off-putting.

Of the many bad kid’s movies I have seen, “Car Go” would be one of the few I would actually have enjoyed as a child. It is full of car puns, from the names of every character to the locations and even some of the objects. The only thing that feels pretty questionable to me is that there are a lot of darker themes in the latter half of the film.

Not only is there a horrible accident leading to the protagonist’s father going to the ICU (intensive car unit), but he is then declared totaled and shipped off to scrap island, a sort of purgatory in this world where they are used for spare parts to repair others. This island is full of cannibals who wear parts of these totaled cars as well as sacrifice two cars to the sun every day.

They literally show us a car getting sent through a grinder and coming out as a cube of metal, with the soul of the car driving away into the sun.

Excuse me, what?

Who thought this was a subject that was needed in this kid’s movie? If it wasn’t cars, this would be an island of cannibal doctors that perform two ritualistic sacrifices daily, wearing clothes made of human skin and bones. This would definitely not be something you would show kids, so why is it ok if they’re cars?

They also have the fatherless side-character going to juvie for illegal street racing after constantly pressuring the main character into joining him in breaking the law.

The main character is also the son of a prominent political figure in the town, and we see him get away with breaking the law multiple times just because of his father’s influence.

How are children supposed to understand these themes of political corruption and classism, as other cars get arrested for the same things that our protagonist keeps getting away with?

In one scene, the main character feigns sickness to get out of class by throwing up a bunch of oil. I talked about it with my friends and came to the conclusion that oil would be the blood of living cars, and gasoline would be the contents of the stomach. This means that he just threw up blood, yet it’s treated as something minor.

There is also a running joke throughout the movie that the main character and his female friend — who they make sure we understand is a girl by her pink paint and flowery stickers, including a bumper sticker that my friends and I agree is actually a tramp stamp — have a crush on each other, yet constantly say they are just friends. At one point, the girl interjects loudly to state that they are only friends and nothing more, making our main character sad, hoping they were more than that.

At the end of the movie, though, they of course get together, completely breaking the first rule of friend zoning: to never break the friend zone. This will only lead to the guy in future situations not accepting being only friends and causing him problems in all future friendships with girls. This is an incredibly unhealthy solution to this whole situation.

I rate movies from 10 to -10, with negatives being so bad they are good. “Car Go” gets a -8, as it was an incredibly fun disaster to watch, and it did a great job of constantly supplying me with new failures to laugh at. My friends and I had a great time with this movie, which can’t be said for the movie we attempted to watch after this about vampires with dwarfism called “Ankle Biters,” which only held our attention for like five minutes until we gave up on it.

This week, I want to talk about the uncanny valley. Have you ever seen an animated film whose characters made you feel uncomfortable and disturbing? This may be because of the uncanny valley, a term for designs that sit in a certain spot between realistic human and cartoony. For most of this graph, things look fine, but near the realistic side there is a sudden drop where designs will make people uncomfortable, up until the design is almost exactly perfect.

My theory for this is that it was an evolutionary advantage to discern humans from possible importers, and it is a subconscious feeling that lets us know that what we are looking at isn’t human. The reason it only kicks in at a certain closeness to reality is because that is the area where it’s harder to consciously tell whether something is human.

This article was originally written for The University of Tennessee’s Daily Beacon’s Bad Movie Showcase.

Editing done by Evan Newell

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