This movie is arguably the first of the Australian "car" movies that would prove significant in the new Australian film revival of the 1970s and into the 1980s [See Also: Stone (1974), The F.J. Holden (1977), In Search of Anna (1978), Summer City (1977), Backroads (1977), Mad Max (1979), Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981), Midnite Spares (1983), Running on Empty (1982), Dead End Drive-In (1986) and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985)].
The opening scenes that feature a couple driving in a car and smoking prominently displaying cigarettes were a parody of a commercial aired on Australian television at the time of the film's original release. Website 'Peterweircave' says of this: "The opening "advertisement", which many viewers seem to take as blatant product placement for Coke and Alpine cigarettes, was actually a spoof in itself. At the time it was made, movies in Australia were often preceded by ads for cigarettes and such. By putting this before the opening credits, Weir was fooling the viewers into thinking this was yet another ad."
This film is notable for one of its distinctive movie posters which features a striking black and white art-deco style cartoon graphic of a car.
When this film was taken to the Cannes Film Festival in May 1974, to promote the picture, production crew dressed up like characters from the film and also similarly, drove a Volkswagen car covered with spikes (like in the film) around the streets of Cannes, garnering much attention and publicity.
This was the the first feature film of the 1970s Australian Film Revival shot in anamorphic widescreen, though it was preceded by the US/Australian co-production Adam's Woman (1970). (The 1950s Australian productions or co-productions Long John Silver (1954), Smiley (1956) and Smiley Gets a Gun (1958) were all shot in CinemaScope.)
An American distribution deal with Roger Corman's New World Pictures was set-up to release this Australian film. However, the deal fell through after much deliberation which apparently had gone on for about a year.
This picture was one of fifty Australian films selected for preservation as part of the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia's Kodak / Atlab Cinema Collection Restoration Project.
This Australian film was retitled 'The Cars That Eat People' for theatrical release in the USA.
This Australian film was not successful at the box-office when released in Australia in 1974.
The first Australian film to gain international recognition at the Cannes Film Festival.
Donald Pleasence was considered for the role of The Mayor in this Australian movie. Pleasence had appeared in the then recent Australian film Wake in Fright (1971). The part in the end went to Australian actor John Meillon. According to the book 'The Last New Wave' by David Stratton, Pleasence "...liked the script and was keen to do it, but although his fee was very reasonable there just wasn't enough money to pay him". Pleasence would soon appear in another Australian film instead, Barry McKenzie Holds His Own (1974), which lensed a few months later in January 1974 after this film shot in October 1973. Pleasence would also later co-star in the Australian movie Ground Zero (1987).
John Meillon was cast in the part of The Mayor at a very late stage in pre-production.
In 1975, Roger Corman's New World Pictures released a movie called Death Race 2000 (1975). That movie, like this film, featured cars with spikes and teeth and were used to attack people. Apparently, Corman went to director Paul Bartel with this concept of the cars. Corman's New World Pictures had been in negotiations to distribute this film for a considerably long time the previous year. Bartel has stated that he had not seen this film when he directed Death Race 2000 (1975).
The pointy spiked silver Volkswagen car seen in the film was modeled on the Australian animal the spiny anteater which is also known as an echidna. The animal is similar to a hedgehog or porcupine. All these animals feature spines on their backs.
This film was adapted into a musical theatre production in 1992 by the Chamber Made Opera.
This film is notable for the appearance of cars with biting teeth and pointy spikes.
First film that director Peter Weir made with both Hal McElroy and Jim McElroy, producers. The others were Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975) and The Last Wave (1977). Weir also collaborated with Jim on The Year of Living Dangerously (1982) which was also a McElroy & McElroy production though Hal was not individually credited.
First feature film as producers for both Jim McElroy and Hal McElroy who are twin brothers.
First theatrical feature film of director Peter Weir. It's the second though if one counts Weir's short-feature Homesdale (1971) as a feature.
When this Australian film was made, there was no Australian distributor attached to theatrically releasing the picture.
Second theatrical feature film of Australian actor Max Phipps. You Can't See 'round Corners (1969) was the first.
According to the book 'Australian Film 1900-1977', "Attempts were made to salvage the film commercially [in Australia] by changing distributors (from M.C.A. to B.E.F) and by changing the advertising campaign from horror movie to art film (in Canberra during the 'Australia 75' arts festival), but neither succeeded."
In April 1974, Australian Distributor Roadshow Film Distributors offered to distribute this film after the picture had failed to find a distributor. In May 1974, after a successful campaign at the Cannes Film Festival, Roadshow pulled-out of distributing this movie.
Though this film was produced by the brothers Hal McElroy and Jim McElroy, this picture was not actually a "McElroy & McElroy" production. That company's first feature film was the brothers' next movie, Between Wars (1974).
Reportedly, this film was turned-down for screening in competition at the 1974 Cannes Film Festival because it was "too violent" and "too gruesome". The September-October 1974 edition of the Australian 'Movie News' magazine ran an article on this film with the headline: "The Aust. [Australian] film considered too gruesome for Cannes!". The film however did screen there out of competition in the market and was sold to a US major distributor.
This film is released in Australia on DVD as a double-feature with Peter Weir's later 1970s thriller, The Plumber (1979).
The number of people that lived in the Australian country town of Paris, New South Wales was 148.
The "Paris" of this film's title and setting in this picture is not the city of Paris in France but the town of Paris, New South Wales in country Australia. A similar non-French setting of a place called "Paris" also featured in the later film, Paris, Texas (1984), which was made and released exactly a decade later.
John Meillon received top / first billing, Terry Camilleri received second billing.
There are three female characters with speaking parts who are not credited - Matron at the hospital, and Hilary and Jeanette (the Mayor's children).