Directed by John Carpenter
Screenplay by Bill Phillips
Based on the novel Christine by Stephen King
Keith Gordon, John Stockwell, Alexandra Paul, Robert Prosky, Harry Dean Stanton
Original Release date December 9, 1983 Run Time 110 minutes
Budget $10M Box Office $21M
IMDb 6.7/10 Rotten Tomatoes 69% Metacritic 57/100
For the first time, I have two of the trailers included for this film. One is the original, classic trailer, the other is the typical trailer you would get after the movie had been released but was still being promoted before showings of other films or on video cassette previews.
This is one of my all-time favorite movie adaptations of a Stephen King novel. What’s so blatantly different about this particular story of King’s pretty much starts out with from the first scene with death and we just keep going. Now, since this film was release in ’83, I’m going to take a wild shot in the dark here and assume that this movie is old enough that it has been seen by the majority of my readers... However, if you haven’t seen it by now, before I go any further, here is your spoiler alert notice.
!!!!!!CONTENT BELOW CONTAINS SPOILERS!!!!!!
There, now we can continue.
So, first thing we see is a Chrysler auto plant and auto workers making 1958 Plymouth Furys. All of the ones currently on the line are all the same boring grayish kind of color except for one. This one single solitary masterpiece of an automobile comes rolling down the line and she’s a pristine, gorgeous, sporty, candy apple red with a high gloss shine. By the time this sexy beast leaves the factory, she’s already claimed the life of one man, he ashes his cigar on her front seat and another man was messing around near the front end under the hood and well, she probably took off a finger or two when she let the hood of this American made tank of a car slam down on his hand, sending him into shrills of pain. Okay, that’s in 1957, got it?
Fast forward twenty-one years later to 1978 and we meet Arnie Cunningham. Arnie is the poster boy for the stereotypical of what my generation called a geek or a nerd. (Do kids still do that these days? I would think with all the progression that the school popularity hierarchy might have changed a bit by now. But what do I know? I don’t have kids. Anyways…1978)
It’s the first day of a year at high school. Luckily, Arnie is friends with a kid named Dennis Guilder. Dennis is a football player and he and Arnie are close buddies. And for Dennis, the first day of school isn’t a big deal or anything. But for Arnie, it’s the first day of a long line of upcoming torturous, embarrassing and demeaning encounters with Buddy Repperton and his cronies, Don Vandenberg, Moochie Welch and Richie Trelawney, the merciless school bullies.
On the way home, Arnie and Dennis pass by what looks like a junky old car parked in a junky old yard of a junky old house. Arnie tells Dennis to stop the car and go back. When they get to the car Arnie immediately falls in love with it, while all Dennis can see is a hunk of junk not worth anything. The owner comes to talk to Arnie and is happy to speak with him, since he is interested in the car, a 1957 Plymouth Fury. Dennis has some smartass comments to say and tries to talk Arnie out of buying the car but it’s no use. Arnie writes a check and Christine becomes his new baby.
From that point on, Arnie starts to change and with every little thing he fixes, replaces or rebuilds on Christine, he becomes more and more unlike himself. Eventually, the only thing he cares about at all is that car. During the time that he owns it several bad things happen involving the car itself. His new girlfriend, Leigh, who also happens to be the hottest girl at school and won’t date anyone but for some reason chooses to date Arnie, almost chokes to death in the car at the drive-in theater. Certain other people are threatened by Arnie and others that seem to be problems in Arnie’s life seem to mysteriously die violent and ugly deaths.
Christine isn’t just any old car. She’s special. She’s got a history, a past, a string of pain and death in her wake. It’s almost like she’s cursed. But in the strangest of ways. She can actually rebuild herself so no damage is ever permanent. Her radio only plays old songs from the 1950s. She gets very attached to her owners, devoted in fact. If anyone tries to mess with Arnie or get in between the two of them, Christine can take care of whatever the problem is. And she can take care of Arnie. Even though throughout the movie we see Arnie get more pale and sickly looking, his eyes sunken with dark bags underneath, the change in his attitude becomes that of a cocky and indignant wretch rather than the sweet, caring and sensitive kid he started out to be. And there’s nothing anyone can do. For Arnie, to get rid of Christine, to protect anyone. Nothing.
Eventually, everything comes down to a battle between Dennis and Leigh versus Arnie and Christine. A battle that neither Arnie nor Christine is willing to lose and Dennis and Leigh can’t afford to not fight.
Okay, so this is one of my favorite Stephen King stories. I’ve watched this movie since I was a child. I love this movie. It’s not just the idea of this cursed car avenging his owner’s mistreatment or heartache or whatever. It’s also the idea that this car has a mind of its own. It can rebuild itself. It poisons the person who owns it. It kills those who try to take the owner’s love from it. It plays songs people don’t even hear on the radio anymore. This car is evil and magic at the same time. A blessing and a curse. If you own it, you can solve all your problems in your life, but if you own it, it is sure to kill you or someone you love, at minimum someone you know. All the while seemingly living off the very essence of life inside you, draining and expelling anything good or wholesome and replacing it with anything bad or evil.
Plus, for the era in which it was made, they did some fancy FX work to make this car do things that even KITT in Night Rider couldn’t do. Yes, I know what Night Rider is and yes, I know that shows my age and yes, if you don’t know what Night Rider is, you’re what I refer to as a young person. No offense. Just too many generations back for most of ya, that’s all.
Anyways, this movie is a classic. Not Oscar material by any means but one of Hollywood’s best movie adaptation of Stephen King’s novels by far. A must see for any horror fan. And if any of the younger people out there think that it’s gonna suck because there’s no CGI, I promise you, it won’t. I guarantee there were good movies and graphics prior to CGI and back in these days, we still required actors, directors and special fx techs to have talent because not everything could be fixed with the computer and digital programs. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there’s a certain respect for the pioneers of special effects; the makeup, the puppeteer work, the robotic creations, everything that went into making us believe these people really looked this way and these things really did happen. This movie gets a lot of respect from me for the things they make this car do.