Is there anything better than rushing forward into the unknown? The wind in your face, the world whooshing past as you leap forward into the future... until you smash into something, that is.
Car crashes are an important part of science fiction and fantasy. They show us what happens when you go a little too boldly — and since most of us will never get to crash a starship or a magic broom, a car crash is like the closest real-life equivalent.
Here are some of the coolest, most insane car (and truck) crashes in science fiction and fantasy history.
Note: We are not endorsing reckless driving, or saying that car crashes are awesome in real life. You should especially not read this article and drive at the same time.
Mad Max: The Road Warrior.
Let's just get the best one out of the way right off the bat. The movie that set the standard for vehicular mayhem — so much so, that there's an annual festival paying tribute to it. And this sequence ends with an absolutely stonking crash, as Mel Gibson's tanker truck smashes into the post-apocalyptic buggy, with hilariously fatal consequences.
And then there's this: the greatest tribute to Road Warrior ever shown on the big screen (for like one weekend.) The title of this video on Youtube says it all: "Rhona Mitra Ramps A Bentley Through An Exploding Bus." What more could you ask for? Oh, and just like in Mad Max, the evil mohawk guy dies as a side effect of the crashy driving awesomeness.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
Apologies if this one isn't embeddable. You can always click over to watch it at Youtube. But chances are this stunt is already burned into your brain. The T-1000 drives a truck off a freeway overpass onto a feeder road, then chases John Connor all the way to another freeway overpass, where it crashes into the concrete railing. Total destruction ensues. Awesome. People make pilgrimages to that overpass just so they can relive the splendor.
Terminator 3: The Rise of the Machines
Another one that's not embeddable, sorry. But worth clicking over to watch. Terminator 3 barely made much impression in general, but this stunt is really a thing of beauty. Love the way the T-800 outsmarts the T-X by attaching the truck's winch to the manhole causing the truck to flip over. Also love the way Amsoil turns this into an ad for Diesel products.
Final Destination 2
In this supernatural film series, people don't die, and then they do die, thanks to supernatural forces that cause improbable deaths. Or something. Anyway, this is probably the most famous sequence, because it involves logs on a highway. Which are even cooler than snakes on a plane.
With Transformers 3 opening in a couple days, it's time to appreciate the wizardry of Michael Bay. The Island features copious amounts of vehicular destruction, including a whole sequence where there are big rusty freight train wheels all over the highway — because train wheels are actually cooler than logs — and a car gets sliced in half. (It's at about 2:20 in this video, which is a bizarre mash-up of scenes from The Island and scenes from Bad Boys.)
The Matrix Reloaded
Two trucks crash into each other. Poetry. Ballet. Semis hitting head-on is always impressive. And the two bodies floating over the destruction is pretty amazing too.
Back to the Future
What this car crash lacks in pyrotechnics it makes up for in rockabilly hilarity. Michael Bay needs to explore the possibilities of manure trucks.
Iron Man 2
The racetrack scene was the great highlight from this cyborg sequel. Whiplash lays waste to tons of racecars with his electrical whips, and in the process causes a lot of cars to crash into each other. And then poor Happy gets caught up in the middle of it with Tony's roadster.
The Dark Knight
Bruce Wayne's Lamborghini gets totally smashed, proving that even in his civilian identity, Batman isn't safe.
The Dark Knight (#2)
Batman kind of cheats, using missiles. But when the semi flips, that's the real deal.
Star Wars: Return of the Jedi
Not actually a car crash — but it's the closest you'll get in the Star Wars universe. And those speeders make a damn pretty flash when they careen into one of the many trees of Endor.
Young James Kirk drives a Corvette off a cliff — foreshadowing what he'll eventually do with the Enterprise in Star Trek III. (Although that was a different timeline, I guess.)
This 1977 James Brolin movie featured an evil possessed car that went around slaughtering people — and there are a lot of awesomely destructive crashes in the trailer, including the car crashing into a house.
And finally, a couple of awesomely intense ones from television...
One of the all-time great cliffhangers. The beloved Impala gets hit by a demon-driven truck, and smashed into a ditch, leaving the Winchesters unconscious and easy prey for a murderous demon.
Olivia Dunham crashes her car — and goes through the windshield much, much later. Momentum deferred, indeed.
What are your favorite fantastical car crashes?