How do you kill something that can't possibly be alive?

110 min     6.8     1983     USA


Geeky student Arnie Cunningham falls for Christine, a rusty 1958 Plymouth Fury, and becomes obsessed with restoring the classic automobile to her former glory. As the car changes, so does Arnie, whose newfound confidence turns to arrogance behind the wheel of his exotic beauty. Arnie's girlfriend Leigh and best friend Dennis reach out to him, only to be met by a Fury like no other.


John Chard wrote:
Christine No Strawberry Girl, She’s Plymouth Fury. CQB 241. Christine is directed by John Carpenter and adapted to screenplay by Bill Phillips from the novel of the same name written by Stephen King. It stars Keith Gordon, John Stockwell, Alexandra Paul, Robert Prosky and Harry Dean Stanton. Music is by Carpenter and Alan Howarth and cinematography is by Donald M. Morgan. How Do You Kill Something That Can’t Possibly Be Alive? 1983 was a busy year for Stephen King adaptations to the screen, along with Christine there was also Cujo and The Dead Zone, so for fans of the legendary author there was plenty to chew on. Christine tells the story of a possessed car that takes over the life of the school nerd, with devastating consequences. As a story that’s pretty much all there is to it, the beauty of the pic is how Carpenter ensures the car really does have a malevolent life of its own. The theme at work such as automobile obsession and the bonkers love story at the narrative heart, are not sacrificed for cheap shocks and gimmickry, but Carpenter rightly made the car the star and she doesn’t disappoint. Christine’s move from being a knackered old banger to super shiny speedster runs concurrent with Arnie Cunningham’s (Gordon) transformation. Where once was the misfit being bullied, is now a supremely confident dude, he even dates one of the school babes. But with Christine’s love and protection comes great danger, and this lets Carpenter craft some super scenes. From self healing to fiery vengeance, the director brings his lensing skills to the party. Music, unsurprisingly for Carpenter, plays a key part as well. A ream of 50s Rock “n” Roll tunes play out of Christine’s radio to align with what is unfolding on screen, while the score is distinctly Carpenteresque. Cast are very good in their efforts, though more of the wonderful H. D. Stanton should have been a requisite. Unfortunately the screenplay doesn’t afford many character instances to run smoothly, it sometimes feels like the studio demanded that Carpenter hurry up to the next Christine is evil scene instead of building the character bridges! However, it’s a film that may be undeniably 80s in tone of film making, but it has aged surprisingly well. Suspenseful, exciting and devilishly playful, this is another Carpenter movie worthy of re-evaluation. 8/10
talisencrw wrote:
One of the most intriguing coming-of-age stories in cinema, and this tends to be overlooked, both as a Stephen King story and horror film, in place of the more sensationalized frolic and mayhem of works such as 'The Shining', 'Carrie', 'Misery' and 'The Shawshank Redemption', which is a crying shame, because: a) John Carpenter is probably the finest director (at least Top 3) ever involved with King adaptations; and b) it perfectly conceptualizes, like earlier short experimental films by the likes of Kenneth Anger, the downright uncomfortable sleaziness and fetishism that has existed, mainly in America, between men and their cars. Keith Gordon does some really fine acting here (as he did previously for Brian De Palma in 'Dressed to Kill') as all possible dynamics along the range from nerd to psycho. It's impressive that, while growing up in film, he obviously learned some of the tricks of the trade from such cinematic greats (at least of American film of the past 50 years) and ended up becoming a decent film helmer himself. 9/10 for me; Grade A Carpenter. It simply isn't top-tier for me, of his oeuvre, because I know he, like Sir Alfred Hitchcock, De Palma and other greats, is capable of cinematic perfection (Halloween, The Thing, etc.).
DrewBlack wrote:
“She’s a killer!” Said one of the promotional posters for John Carpenter’s feature film, based on the homonymous best-selling novel by famous writer Stephen King. Since its 1983 release, the movie has become a cult-classic, especially for gearheads and horror fans, thanks to its premise. But is the movie a killer thriller or just a clunker 1980s film? For this reviewer, it is an absolutely enjoyable, fun to watch deep character study. Carpenter turns his wrenches on King’s over the top supernatural material, and polishes it into a clearer, more relatable version of the horror romance. The plot is intriguing to say the least. In the 1980s, a young, bullied nerd, Arnold “Arnie” Cunningham, buys a trashed red 1957 Plymouth Fury (named Christine by its previous owner) purely by impulse, as if he had fallen in love at first sight. He becomes obsessed with restoring the automobile to its former glory. His personality begins to change after that, as noticed by his best friend, Dennis, and his brand new girlfriend, Leigh. The car does share Arnie’s feelings, and will do anything to protect him… Even from his loved ones. An interesting take on an unhealthy romance, in which the parties are jealous and obsessed with one another, differing from King’s book, that used tropes such as possession to dictate the supernatural elements of the story. If there was one person to be able to make a film of this sort, it had to be John Carpenter. Coming out of what would be (years later) considered one of his most important works, The Thing, one year prior, he took the director’s chair for the Christine project. Despite also being known for adventure thrillers (like Escape From New York and Assault on Precinct 13) and satirical takes on other genres (Dark Star being an example), he is considered one of the masters of the horror cinema, and it is not for no reason, as he had vast experience in the genre, with all time classics such as Halloween (1978), The Fog (1980) and the aforementioned The Thing (1982) already under his belt. After Christine, his horror resumé would only expand, with the additions of They Live (1988) and Blood River (1991). Even though Carpenter is greatly responsible for the success of Christine, he says it was one of his easiest works, which leads us to the reason he affirms such a thing: the phenomenal acting by rising star Keith Gordon. Gordon was an eager-to-learn filmmaker aspirant by that time, but also a rising name on the acting scene. Despite being more concentrated on plays at the moment, he took the part and made a good team with the director. Bringing creative elements such as changing his hairstyle when his personality would change, he took the challenge of a (as he described) Jekyll-and-Hyde, rangy type of character surprisingly well, having a noticeable division between the Arnie of the beginning and the Arnie of the ending. Alexandra Paul did a great job bringing the element of the worried lady in Leigh. John Stockwell played Dennis, the jock, the successful best friend of the loser. Despite being fun to watch,Stockwell was playing a stereotype, so his acting was what needed to be expected from the 80s hero. It wasn’t bland, in no way, but not outstanding. Stockwell would go on to retire from acting and become a filmmaker. But what is interesting about the casting choices in Christine is that the producer, Richard Kobritz, and the director agreed on having less human star power to its cast, to give the spotlight to the real star of the film: The 1957 Plymouth Fury, Christine herself. The soundtrack is something to behold. The incredible 1980s electro-style original compositions blend so well into their scenes, because they were made by no other than John Carpenter himself, in his long time collaboration with Alan Howarth. The two composers also worked together in They Live, The Thing, Halloween and many others. When the one who is guiding the scenes makes the pieces who will accompany them, the two things become intrinsically related, assuring a good completion between the two. But something not to be overlooked is the amazing selection of 1950s songs, through which Christine “communicates”. They are a key element coming from the book itself (every chapter starts with a 50s Rock ‘n’ Roll quote), and represent Stephen King’s love for that time period. The rockabilly selection includes Buddy Holly’s Not Fade Away, Dion and the Belmonts’ I Wonder Why, and Danny and the Juniors’ Rock and Roll is Here to Stay. This blends not only with Christine’s communication, but also with Arnie becoming more “1950s” as the movie progresses, influenced by his obsession with his beloved car. And, of course, there needs to be an honorable mention to George Thorogood and the Destroyers’ Bad to the Bone, that features in a chilling opening. Visually, the film is quite smart, especially for a time in which virtually no special effects were available. Using practical effects, such as recording a car being smashed in reverse, to create the effect of it rebuilding itself, the creativity is what pays off for a film that won’t look visually dated, even well over three and a half decades since its first release. At the end of the road, Christine is a V8 powered monster movie thrill ride, with some old fashioned scares, a banger soundtrack, an acting with little turbo lag, visual effects that corner like they were on rails, and a pace that doesn’t run out of steam. Despite the premise being considered “silly”, the result can appeal to regular horror fans and gearheads alike… And she is ready to show you why.