Road Rage With The Freeway Fiddler
"Death Car on the Freeway" is the sort of TV movie which you now watch some 30 plus years after it was made out of curiosity. Here is a TV movie which not only features some familiar names and faces from the 70s but is also directed by Hal Needham who specialised in stunt heavy movies which this certainly is with lots of car action. Beyond that curiosity to what a 70s TV movie was like there isn't a lot else to say at is quite typical with nothing great to make it stand out.
TV journalist Jan Claussen (Shelley Hack - A Casualty of War) becomes suspicious when she is sent out to cover a story about woman who says she was rammed off the road by a guy in a blue van with blacked out windows as she remembers another story which her ex Ray (George Hamilton - The Hollywood Mom's Mystery) covered for another studio. Despite the similarities Lieutenant Haller (Peter Graves) refuses to believe that there is any connection between the two incidents or that the driver of the van was trying to kill the women. But then a third woman also falls foul to the van driver and ends up with severe burns when her car bursts into flames following the incident leading to the van driver to be labelled the "Freeway Fiddler" and becoming big news.
So "Death Car on the Freeway" is really a simple thriller as the focus is on Jan trying to piece together the story and then putting herself in danger in the hope of catching the bad guy. As such we have the mystery as to who the driver of the van is with various male characters who are sketchy making us question whether they are the man. And then the danger as Jan takes advanced driving lessons in hope of being targeted by the driver in the hope of catching him. That is it and whilst not overly long at just over 90 minutes "Death Car on the Freeway" struggles to fill the movie with enough drama to stop it from dragging.
There is also a feminist side to this movie as it has elements of male sexist opinions but to be frank it now appears quite laughable as it is less than subtle but probably was quite hard hitting back in the 70s.
But where "Death Car on the Freeway" comes into its own is the action and with Hal Needham behind the camera the car chases and crashes are good. I wouldn't say they are spectacular but from a car precariously sliding along a crash barrier to just the road rage of the van ramming women in their cars it is certainly better than you expect from a TV movie.
As for the acting well it is a case of some well known names and faces such as Shelley Hack, George Hamilton, Peter Graves, Dinah Shore and Barbara Rush but the characters are the anonymous kind. It is where the movie is seriously let down as the characters are all too weak and so you never really care for them.
What this all boils down to is that "Death Car on the Freeway" is a movie which is interesting purely to see what a 70s TV movie was like and only entertaining because of the stunt work.