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Gas Stations Go to the Birds (and Other Cool Movie Scenes)

Run while you can!

birds_attack_gas_station

While it should be no surprise to our regular readers that we find the connection between C-stores and American pop culture fascinating, we admit we were a little disappointed with the link we posted on Monday featuring video clips of famous scenes from movies that used C-stores as at least a partial setting. Not that the clips weren’t entertaining; there simply wasn’t enough variety.

It took us a few days, but we eventually came to the conclusion that since gas stations—even more iconic than the C-stores they have helped make a national institution—have been around in the U.S. since at least 1905, a search for unforgettable movie scenes featuring gas stations might prove much more fruitful.

One came to mind before we even began to do the research: “The Birds,” directed by Alfred Hitchcock. In this terrifying thriller from 1963, hordes of birds descend on the isolated town of Bodega Bay, California to attack its denizens (it’s made more disturbing because you never find out why). The suspense just builds and builds until it kicks into full gear when a motorist filling his car at a gas station is attacked by a pair of birds. He falls over, knocks his head against the concrete and gas starts puddling around his unconscious form. Another man, unaware he is standing in the rapidly growing puddle, lights a cigar and drops the lit match. Boom! (There’s a reason you aren’t supposed to smoke at gas stations.) Check out the clip here. Even with the pre-CGI special effects (it’s over a half century old!) it remains effective to this day.

Here are a few other favorites:

Romeo and Juliet (1996) — They adapted this movie incorporating modern (for then) disenfranchised youth (gangs!) with mixed results. But you gotta love a Shakespeare adaption that opens in a gas station.

Teenagers from Outer Space (1959) — More a “D” movie than a “B” movie, the only scene that sticks with us is the alien (they look totally human) “x-ray” gun attack on a gas station. It turns the patrons into skeletons. We must have seen this when we were six or seven which probably explains our somewhat warped sensibilities.

Zoolander (2001) — Ben Stiller’s title character’s moronic sidekicks mix dousing each other with gas and lighting cigarettes at a gas station. The result is more spectacular than “The Birds” but a whole lot funnier, probably helped by the fact that Wham is playing in the background.

Spoorloos (1988) — This Dutch movie is known as “The Vanishing” in the U.S. and is quite haunting. A key event that might happen to any of us (if we’re not careful) occurs at a gas station. Avoid the American re-make with Jeff Bridges and Keefer Sutherland that tacks on a forced Hollywood ending.

Cars (2006) — Ramone’s body shop is based on the U-Drop Inn on Route 66, which we featured earlier in our Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn feed. Check it out here.

So what about you? Do you have any favorite gas station movie scenes? Message us at this blog if you do and we’ll compile a list to publish in the near future.

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