First featuring in Nightmares & Dreamscapes in 1985, Dolan’s Cadillac was almost a completely different movie. The original plan was to have Sylvester Stallone and Kevin Bacon star, but the project never came to fruition. Then in 2oo8, a successful revival began, minus the two originally rumoured actors who were replaced by Christian Slater and Wes Bentley. Whilst it would have been pretty great to see Bacon and Stallone, the two substitutes pull of an enjoyable tale, even if it does miss the point of the novella.
Elizabeth (Emmanuelle Vaugier) and Robinson (Wes Bentley) are an average Las Vegas couple trying for a baby. All is going well until Elizabeth goes horse riding in the desert and witnesses the shooting of illegal immigrants by the ruthless human trafficker Dolan (Christian Slater). In her attempt to flee, she drops her mobile phone, an item that Dolan uses to track her down. After threatening her with a gruesome message in their bed, they decide to go to the police and are protected in a safe house. Elizabeth sneaks out one night to buy more pregnancy tests, but Dolan is one step ahead: he’s booby trapped her car, which explodes just as Robinson reaches the outside of the building. From then on, he devises the ultimate plan of revenge against his wife: a plan which includes utilizing Dolan’s high tech, bulletproof Cadillac…
With two big names such as Christian Slater and Wes Bentley, it’s surprising that this is a straight-to-DVD release. Slater, who has worked with some of the industry’s finest talents and Bentley, who found his breakthrough role in the form of American Beauty’s Ricky Fitts, both give impressive turns and perform to a level that would be more than acceptable for cinemas. Slater is perfectly slimy and equally ruthless as the titular Dolan, while Bentley exhibits great emotions as the heartbroken and revenge seeking Robinson, and Emmanuelle Vaugier plays his ill-fated wife. She’s only seen for a short period of time, but just about manages to convincingly seem loved up with her husband. It would have been nice to have seen more of the two, as it would have made Robinsons plight more believable rather than assumed simply due to their relationship.
The film opens promisingly enough, with a relatively quick pace. Unfortunately, this isn’t maintained and it regularly feels dragged out for the sake of making a feature film as opposed to a thirty minute TV episode. When Robinson finally puts his elaborate scheme into action in his attempt to get to Dolan, Screenwriter Richard Dooling seems to have entirely missed the point of the Cadillac; it’s not simply a car that he prefers to be driven in, but a metaphor for Dolan’s supposed invincibility. This point isn’t put across strong enough, and means that it could have been any car that is used.
Nevertheless, Dolan’s Cadillac features strong performances, striking imagery in places and a memorable take of evil getting their comeuppance. The source material has been dumbed down whilst being dragged out to fill a feature film runtime, but the quality is still above the usual seen for straight to DVD releases. It’s no classic, but it sits proudly in the ‘hidden gem’ category of Stephen King adaptations.