Director: John Carpenter
Harry Dean Stanton/Junkins
The moment school geek Arnie (Gordon) set his eyes on Christine, it was love at first sight. The problem is that Christine is a cherry red 1958 Plymouth Fury and to make matters better (I’m a horror fan so yes, this is better), she’s also a possessed car with jealous fits and murderous instincts. Arnie’s obsession toward Christine transforms him from mucho geek to psycho chic and you bet that school bullies will get run over.
"Christine" is based on a book by Stephen King (that goes by the same name) and horror master John Carpenter directed it. How can you go wrong? I know the film is different from the book (many purists bitched about this upon its release) but I haven’t read the book, so I don’t give a rat’s ass! This movie has been underrated for years and I think it's time to give it its rightful dues right here in this freaking review.
Christine grabbed me right away with its slick opening credits (with the sound of a car engine rumbling) and its opening at the car assembly line. It didn’t let me go till the closing credits. The film is not particularly scary but it is definitely engaging and very entertaining. What really helps make this somewhat silly situation credible are the actors. I want to buy a beer to whomever cast this puppy. All of the main performers take their somewhat cliché characters (the jock, the geek, the brainy chick) and make them feel real. With lesser actors it wouldn’t have worked as well. Also, major props to Carpenter for actually pulling off the “car with a soul” thang. I’m sure it was a tough aspect to get a handle on but Christine’s personality shined through all the way. I loved the way that she communicated through 50’s tunes from her radio and I always perceived her as a main character. Wrap all that in extreme atmosphere and stylized visuals, slap in a somber, synthesizer score by Carpenter himself (that’s it, I have to buy this guy's music!) and you get a film that’s a cut above the norm.
I’ve heard people say that the film was too long and I don’t agree. I was actually craving more, which brings me to my main complaint about the film. There wasn’t enough emphasis put on Arnie’s (Gordon) nerd to cool guy transformation. It happens too quickly and not gradually enough. It’s almost like one second he’s a nerd and then the next...he’s choking his dad or wearing kool threads. The movie should’ve taken more time with that. I also would have liked to have seen Arnie’s relationship with Leigh (Paul) be explored further before Arnie lost it. If I ‘d seen them be more normal and loving early on, that would’ve made me care more about the conflict that happened between them later.
But on a whole, "Christine" captured my heart. The situation and the characters reeled me in. The moments of high style in the film (when Christine chases some school bullies) had me foaming with delight; the effects were dead-on (seeing Christine reconstruct herself was a damn blast!) and the film was just a fun (but somewhat downbeat) ride. Yes, I’m in love with Christine…varoom!
A broken piece of glass in a character’s belly, a corpse on fire…not much in terms of gore but the film doesn’t need it.
Keith Gordon (Arnie) does the geek thing very well but it’s when he was in "psycho" mode that I really sat up and said wow! This dude is talented and is way scary! John Stockwell (Dennis) nails the "jock with feelings" bit and conveys all emotions properly. Alexandra Paul (Leigh) should’ve gotten more screen time, her character is not developed enough. She does have an agreeable presence but tends to be a bit too melodramatic at times. Harry Dean Stanton (Junkins) is a delight as the nosy cop on Arnie’s case. I loved his delivery. William Ostranger (Buddy) looks like John Travolta's evil twin brother minus the acting talent. His performance is hilariously overblown. He’s the weakest actor in this film.
T & A
Everybody keeps their tops on but Christine looks really good. That cherry red body of hers is too die for…yum…
The film is tight, has some sharp camera movements but what really did it for me were the “Christine” moments where Carpenter goes all out. For instance, the scene in which the car is on fire, headlights on chasing a scumbag. Backed with the solid score and the moody ambiance, that sequence almost had me creaming my pants. Carpenter has a talent when it comes to coupling scenes with music and it’s in extreme evidence here. He also uses sounds brilliantly and the cinematography is superb.
Lots of rock 'n roll oldies grace this soundtrack. My favorites being “Bad To The Bone”, “Keep A Knocking” and “We Belong Together”. The score my Carpenter is excellent and really supports the film’s many groovy moments.
We all know that some guys love their cars more than their chicks (that’s why I’m nailing them while they go for a drive) and “Christine” takes that concept a step further. I really don’t see why this flick got so much flack when it first came out. It has solid acting, stylish directing, strong effects, a slick score and much like Christine, it has soul. The film can almost be perceived as a love triangle: a boy, a girl and a car. I can’t believe Carpenter made that work. Christine, baby…I love you. “kiss” “kiss’ “vroom”.
Thirteen or sixteen (everybody says different) Plymouth Fury's were smashed during the shooting of this film.
The book Dennis picks up before asking Leigh out is “Christine” by Stephen King.
Keith Gordon (Arnie) went on to become a director. His directing credits include "Mother Night" with Nick Nolte and "Waking The Dead" with Jennifer Connelly and Billy Crudup.