Reviewed By

Christopher Armstead
Back in the day J.J. and Cutter were NASCARing fools and bitter enemies.  Cutter had already stolen J.J.'s girl Tammy and snatched his biggest sponsor, thus to secure this domination over J.J.'s lameness, all Cutter has to do on this day is win this race.  Leaving nothing to chance, Cutter also did a little number on J.J.'s ride just to make sure the outcome came out in his favor.  Unfortunately Cutter's people suck at sabotaging race cars because J.J.'s car didn't screw up until late in the race, while he was winning, causing Cutter's car to crash into J.J.'s ride injuring J.J. but leaving Cutter to fry like a stuck pig inside what is now a rolling deathtrap.  But Cutter's not going to stay dead, no sir.  He will return years later, causing a ruckus, as the 'Phantom Racer!'

Fast forward seventeen years or so and J.J. (Greg Evigan) has given up NASCARing and now just rides the open road in his big rig ferrying a race car from race to race.  Circumstance on the road leads to J.J.'s rig having some technical difficulty and dang if this rig doesn't break down in his old home town, one he hasn't been in ever since that fateful day seventeen years prior.

First J.J. runs into Sheriff Hodges (Winston Rekert) who really doesn't like J.J. much, mainly because he left town which seems like a lousy reason not to like somebody.  Then the sheriff drops J.J. off to get his truck fixed at Cliff's auto shop, Cliff being Cutter's brother and former pit chief so Cliff basically saw J.J. kill his brother so that seems like the logical place for the sheriff to drop J.J. off at.  Sheriff Hodges… I tell you.  Cliff also married Tammy (Nicloe Eggert) after Cutter died and has been the
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defacto father to Cutter and Tammy's seventeen year old girl Jesse (Brenna O'Brien).  Most importantly though is that Cliff has restored Cutter's NAS-CAR.  When J.J. saw the car he knew immediately that something wasn't right, his NAS-CAR evil sensing ghost gene kicking in, but then Cliff told him how he sabotaged his ride back in the day and then Tammy showed up and stuff so he forgot all about the evil car.

He won't be forgetting long though because the Death Car is out of the garage, driving around town and messing people up.  Like the punk teens who saw it and decided to jump in.  One of them went in the trunk to check for beer because everybody knows that if you see an abandoned stock car on the side of the road it has to have beer in the trunk.  The gene pool has now been favorably thinned out.  Then the Death Car decapitates Cliff.  This seemed like dick move since Cliff was Cutter's brother and all, and Cliff was the one who put the car back together so I don't what was up with that.  Unfortunately Sheriff Hodges thinks J.J. killed Cliff, and so does the bratty teen Jesse which leads to this movies best line… "You've killed My Two Dads!"  Greg Evigan was on the show My Two Dads back in the 80's.  Post B.J. and the Bear.  Remember those?

J.J. tries to tell folks that the car possessed, but do they believe him?  Not yet they don't, but after Death Car Windshield Wiped that deputies face off and destroyed the remainder of this towns incompetent cops, now everybody's a believer and the Phantom Racer wants blood.  J.J.'s blood.  Even though J.J. didn't do a damn thing to him.  With Tammy and Jesse in tow, and Tammy hiding a secret that we all already know, they try to escape… the Phantom Racer! 

What a peculiar picture this Sci-Fi Channel original film 'Phantom Racer' turned out to be.  A mix of extreme gore, family melodrama and horror movie stupidity that had a fairly enjoyable first half, this when the Phantom Racer was turning the local townsfolk into bloody pulps, but then deteriorated in its second half when the Phantom Racer was stuck chasing our main characters down empty roads, for a virtual eternity, which got a little dull after a while. 

You want gore? When brother-man got his face wiped off by windshield wipers, gotta admit I've never seen that before.  True enough, something that wipes off rain probably shouldn't have the ability wipe somebody's face off, but would a stock car even have windshield wipers?  People's faces get caved in by tires, decapitations, bodies cut in half, imploded by seatbelts, all kinds of horrible things happened to folks in 'Phantom Racer'.  Melodrama?  J.J, Tammy, and Jesse had nothing to do during the second half when they were running from the Phantom Racer but talk about their emotion, pain, feelings, abandonment, hopes, dreams future plans, and why Tammy turned out to be a lousy mom on top of being a lousy person.  It was painful.  For me as well as the characters.  Horror movie stupidity?  It's been established that the death car is indeed haunted and murderous and violent.  Maybe somebody who already knows all these things shouldn't jump in the death car because that would be stupid.  And Cutter didn't seem like a real bad guy when he was alive and all, so why was he such an asshole as the Phantom Racer? 

Held up by a promising first half that had a crazy car killing people in horrible ways, solid performances by a veteran cast, let down in the second half by the 'Crazy Car Trying to Kill the Main Character Syndrome'.  Killer Car movies usually start out swell when everybody is fair game, but most of them start to stumble when we're stuck watching the car trying to hunt down the main character, for an entire third act, who just isn't going to die.  And I don't think there's a cure for this.
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