The Cars that Ate Paris was acclaimed Australian Director Peter Weir's first film. Original Australian movie posters for the film are scarce and there have been many debates among collectors about whether the daybill that occasionally appears is an original or reissue.
The Cars that Ate Paris was originally pitched as a comedy with Graham Bond, of Aunty Jack fame, penciled in for the lead role. However, it soon evolved into a horror / comedy project. It was completed in 1974 and filmed in New South Wales near the country town of Sofala with the rather gruesome plot where residents in the town of Paris arranged fatal car accidents and stole money and luggage from the victims.
Any unfortunate survivors were taken to the town where the local doctor performed medical experiments and lobotomies on them. Peter Weir assembled a talented cast for The Cars that Ate Paris including John Meillon, Bruce Spence, Terry Camilleri, Chris Haywood, Max Gillies and Max Phipps.
In May 1974 the film was shown at the Cannes Film Festival, with cast members particpating in some clever publicity campaigns. The film was well received and attracted the attention of Roger Corman whose films were similar in genre.
The Cars that Ate Paris was first released in Australia in October 1974 but was not well received. Movie posters would certainly have been printed for the original release but none appear to have been seen.
The producers worked hard to secure a US release and this was finally achieved in June 1976 with the revised title, The Cars that Ate People. The film was shown again in Australia to coincide with the US release but, once again, was not a success.
The Cars that Ate Paris was released on video in 1979 and gradually achieved cult status as an in its Ozploitation genre over the years. The only Australian movie poster to be seen for The Cars that Ate Paris carries the tag "From the Director of Picnic at Hanging Rock". As that film was only released in August 1975 and The Cars that Ate Paris was originally released in 1974, it is possible that the posters that have been seen would have been for the 1976 release.
Occasionally, there has to be an educated guess as to the originality of some posters. If the reference to "Picnic at Hanging Rock" had not been included on the poster then I am sure that collectors would have assumed that the poster was the original release.
Some collectors say that it is highly unlikely that an earlier poster was printed. One theory is that although Picnic at Hanging Rock was not released until 1975, it was would have been in the planning and production stage at the time that The Cars that Ate Paris was first released. However, the words "From the director of Picnic at Hanging Rock" suggests that Hanging Rock had well and truly been released by the time the Cars that Ate Paris posters had been printed.
It may well remain a mystery but if anyone knows of an earlier original Australian poster that pre dates the one shown in this article please let me know.