Vic’s Review – “Christine” (1983)

“Hell hath no Fury like a Fury scorned”

“Christine”

Directed by John Carpenter

8 Plymouth Furies Out of 10

How can you make a film about a killer car scary? Well, you adapt a novel by Stephen King, change it around a bit and give the project to John Carpenter. Carpenter to this day proclaims that this film was just a routine paycheck. He sells himself short which is a classic pattern of true cinematic genius. Keith Gordon stars as Arnie Cunningham, a picked on, nerdy high school kid who befriends a popular jock named Dennis, played very believably by future film director John Stockwell. Rounding out the cast are Harry Dean Stanton in a very slick performance as a police detective and Alexandra Paul as Arnie’s soon to be love interest.

But how does Arnie get cool enough to date the hottest girl in the school? Well, after a day of getting his ass handed to him he drives home with Dennis and sees her. Who? A piece of crap, rusted out ’58 Plymouth Fury. He immediately falls in love with the real star of the film — Christine. At first she’s ugly, worn out and dilapidated, much like Arnie, and he sees her as a project. So he decides to fix her up at Robert Prosky’s garage. Prosky steals every scene as Darnell, who has the best line in the film-”You can’t polish a turd.” But Arnie does polish this turd.

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Christine obviously works on different levels so I won’t go too much into it. But is does play well with the loner becoming a force to be reckoned with angle. And this is what Carpenter excels at. His take is pronounced, accurate and even emotional. Arnie is obsessed with the car which magically fixes itself. And has an odometer that goes backwards. Cracks in the windshield that reduce in size. Stockwell and Paul’s characters see the change in Arnie and they attribute it to Christine. How can one be jealous of a car? Well, Carpenter is all over this film. The cinematography, not by Dean Cundey mind you but Donald Morgan is exceptional especially when Christine is barrelling after teenagers. All the stars give very real performances and the car itself is basically what makes the film work and Carpenter shows her off like the very best kind of car porn. And he succeeds with Morgan’s great scope and vision. Arnie does become an asshole a bit too fast for my liking though and we want to really relate to this kid but by the end you kinda want Christine to run him over as well. Arnie is lucky to have friends that care about him but he is to obsessed to notice. It ends in a very cool Christine versus a tractor showdown. After watching her fix herself (the coolest part of the movie) she succumbs and is crushed into scrap. And Arnie suffers for it. Please observe the nuances of Christine. Many Carpenter fans are polarized by this film. It isn’t scary enough. The ending sucked. Blah blah blah. Christine is smooth, fast and terrible. Hell hath no fury like a Plymouth scorned.
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10 comments

    • I agree, it is overlooked. Thanks for reading. 😀 I even thought Harry Dean Stanton was awesome too. He should have had more screen time.

      • HDS is always great. And man, you are dead on about the ‘show me’ scene. It still looks great. I love how the book and film take what is a silly concept, but take is seriously. I love Arnie’s transformation too. He’s a completely different character from the one in the beginning. That scene where he grabs his dad by the throat is awesome and scary

      • Yeah Arnie turns bad ass pretty quick. I thought a bit too quick but yeah I know what you mean. The scene when Gordon turns on his girlfriend and screams “Don’t you touch her!” still gives me goose bumps.

      • You and I definitely seem to share the appreciation for King, so I wanted to get your opinion on the Carrie remake coming out soon.

      • Pierce and Sacasa (Who wrote The Stand Comcs for King) seem capable enough. I think they should have went with an unknown for Carrie though. Every time I see Moretz as Carrie I see Hit Girl. The posters are none too bad. They don’t knock my socks off but they seem ok. I do hope that King gets the Carrie he’s always wanted for the big screen.

  1. One of Carpenter’s best 80s films. I also loved a film called THE CAR, but I had to drop it when the insert said they consulted with the leader of the church of satan when making the film. A brother has to draw the line somewhere lol. Good review V.

    • Thanks and yeah I read that too. I always thought it was very strange for them to have to consult some satanist for a movie about a killer car. Stupid move. I reviewed it recently and I still enjoy it. I agree about JC and Christine. It’s so under rated. Thanks for stopping by, the RT and reading!

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