Black Cadillac (2002)

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Sell-Through Release Status Unknown
Available for Rent

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Main Menu Audio & Animation
Theatrical Trailer
DVD Credits
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 88:45 (Case: 93)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By John Murlowski
Artist View Ent.
Imagine Entertainment
Starring Randy Quaid
Shane Johnson
Josh Hammond
Jason Dohring
Kiersten Warren
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI Rental Music Jai Winding

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Screen, not known whether Pan & Scan or Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

Revenge is in the driver's seat.

    The most surprising thing about Black Cadillac is that it is apparently based on a true story. It concerns the (mis)adventures of three young men as they enjoy a wintry night out in the countryside bars of Wisconsin. The trio consist of smug, yuppie jock Scott (Shane Johnson), his easily-awed younger brother Robby (Jason Dohrig) and his facially scarred, stoner best friend C.J. (Josh Hammond). After the trio are involved in a bar brawl, thanks to the loud-mouthed defiance of C.J., they are forced to make a hurried exit in Scott's red Saab and head back towards home in Minnesota.

    Within a matter of minutes, the boys become aware that they are being followed by a mysterious 1957 Cadillac El Dorado. The Caddy keeps tailgating, then dropping back which leads the lads to believe they are being followed by some rednecks from the bar. Luckily they come across a patrolman who is stranded after his car freezes up on him on one of the coldest nights of the year. Officer Charlie (Randy Quaid) hitches a lift with them, but much to their dismay, when the Cadillac reappears he seems content to let them drag race the pursuers rather than pull his badge. Soon enough, the game gets out of hand when the Cadillac starts to ram their vehicle - and the boys begin to realise that they are playing not for thrills, but for survival...

    There is a fair degree of the "coming of age" flick in this movie as the boys learn more about each other, and themselves, than they would have expected. The sub-plots involving the scarring on C.J.'s face and the overshadowing of Robby by his jock brother add texture to the characters and prevents them from being mere fodder for their pursuers. The tension in the film builds within minutes of the opening scene and is sustained fairly well throughout - although there is the odd moment of respite thanks to C.J.'s character. Much like the anonymous truck in Spielberg's Duel, the suspense is generated by the seemingly unending pursuit of the Cadillac.

    This is quite a surprise package. Whilst it is not the scariest thing ever committed to celluloid, whilst it does get a little repetitive, whilst the titular vehicle seems to be both indestructible and incredibly fast - the film remains eminently watchable. The car chase scenes (of which there are many) are well handled, and will generally have you on the edge of your seat. The icy roads and frozen lakes form a dramatic backdrop and add an extra edge to the pursuit. Certainly, the ending may be a little too predictable for some, but there would be few people who could not get some enjoyment from the tension this flick manages to generate. The fact that it is based on the real-life experience of writer/director John Murlowski adds a worrying credibility to this little picture. Certainly recommended as a rental for a stormy winter's night.

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Transfer Quality


    The video quality of this transfer is acceptable without being remarkable.

    The video is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and it is not 16x9 enhanced. It is generally acceptably sharp throughout, with only some minor grain or pixelization limiting the clarity a little.

    Given that ninety per cent of the film takes places outdoors at night, it is just as well that the black levels are inky and deep with no significant low level noise present. Unfortunately, shadow detail is occasionally a little lacking, with the picture falling away into full blackness a tad too quickly for my liking. I would suggest that the film is best viewed in a fully darkened room to get the most from the video transfer. Vivid colours are rarely present, but are reasonably well rendered when they do crop up (in the bar and later in the diner) and there is no colour bleeding present. Skins tones are generally natural.

    There are no major MPEG artefacts evident despite an average transfer rate of 5.22 Mbps. Edge enhancement and aliasing are never a problem.

    Film artefacts are very rare in what is generally a clean transfer.

    There are no subtitles available.

    The disc is in DVD 5 (single sided, single layered) format so there is no layer change present.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The overall audio transfer is acceptable technically, but the film would really benefit from a nice Dolby Digital 5.1 surround mix.

    The sole audio track is an English Dolby Digital 2.0 effort, encoded at 224 kbps.

    There are no audio defects in the way of hiss, clicks or dropouts present. Dialogue is always clear and I noticed no problems with the audio sync.

    The music present in the film is mainly anonymous country/rock present on the car radio and in the bar. Additional music is credited to Jeff Marsh - someone whose work is unfamiliar to me. Whilst often only subtly evident, it does manage to reach a more stirring crescendo with staccato drums and percussion instruments during the pursuit sequences. Overall it does a reasonable job, whilst not being particularly memorable.

    The overall audio stage is of course fully frontal. With Pro Logic II enabled however, the surround speakers do get something to do. They carry music in the bar scene, plus some light ambience from car and wind noises. The subwoofer will carry some bass from the car engine and road noise, depending on your set-up, but has nothing in the way of LFE to work with.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    There are negligible extras present.


    The main menu is a basic affair with a bit of animation and a loop of sound. It allows the options of playing the movie, choosing one of a meagre twelve chapter stops, or viewing the following extras:

Theatrical Trailer

    Running for 1:52 and presented at 1.33:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 224 kbps.

DVD Credits

    A silent and static text-based screen providing minimal information on the DVD authors.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The film does not appear to be available on DVD in Region 1. The Region 2 version appears to be similar to our own. Buy whichever is cheaper.


    Black Cadillac is a surprisingly chilling tale. The fact that it is based on a true story only adds to the watchability. This will not change your life, but it will provide some decent entertainment if you are in the mood for a bit of a thriller. Recommended as a rental for a stormy night.

    The video quality is fairly good, but is a little dark in places.

    The audio transfer is adequate, but it would benefit from a lively 5.1 surround mix.

    The extras are inconsequential.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Daniel O'Donoghue (You think my bio is funny? Funny how?)
Sunday, February 01, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDHarmony DVD Video/Audio PAL Progressive, using Component output
DisplaySanyo PLV-Z2 WXGA projector. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR600 with DD-EX and DTS-ES
SpeakersJensenSPX-9 fronts, Jensen SPX-13 Centre, Jensen SPX-5 surrounds, Jensen SPX-17 subwoofer

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