Tuesday, September 27, 2011

#417. Christine (1983)


Directed By: John Carpenter

Starring: Keith Gordon, John Stockwell, Alexandra Paul



Tag line: "Body by Plymouth. Soul by Satan"

Trivia:  Scott Baio was considered to play Arnie Cunningham and Brooke Shields was considered for Leigh Cabot







No matter how evil or demonic they may be, cars just don't scare me. Bottom line: their motion is far too limited. Being chased by a car? Here's an idea: jump off the road, or climb a tree. In every film I've ever seen where someone's running from a killer car (or a killer driving a car), the intended victims could have easily saved themselves by leaping left or right, as opposed to sprinting down the middle of the street. Fortunately John Carpenter's, Christine offers more than a monster on four wheels, and many of the movie's thrills come courtesy of its lead character, Arnie Cunningham (Keith Gordon). A confused teen who falls under the spell of a classic automobile, Arnie's transformation from geek to psychotic proves more intense than any high-speed pursuit could ever be. 

You see, Arnie has recently met the love of his life: a red 1958 Plymouth Fury, nicknamed Christine by its previous owner. Almost immediately after purchasing Christine, Arnie's personality starts to change. Gone is the kid who allowed himself to be bullied at school and pushed around by his parents. Now that Christine's entered the picture, Arnie's the one calling the shots. Confident to the point of cockiness, he even works up the courage to ask Leigh (Alexandra Paul), the most beautiful girl in school, out on a date. His best friend, Dennis (John Stockwell), is concerned about the sudden changes in Arnie's behavior, and senses Christine is somehow responsible for it all. Delving into the vehicle's history, Dennis learns that Christine shared a similar connection with her previous owner, one that ended in tragedy. But Arnie refuses to listen. With Christine, his life has improved tenfold, and he won't allow his friends, or even a few mysterious deaths, to stand in the way of their "relationship". 

As evil cars go, Christine is a doozy, getting down to business before she's even rolled off the assembly line (slamming her hood down on the hand of a quality control inspector, then finishing off another employee who had the audacity to flick his cigar ash onto her new upholstery). To his credit, Carpenter does build a handful of exciting kill scenes around Christine, but ultimately, it's Arnie Cunningham who stirs up the bulk of the film's tension. When first we meet him, Arnie's spilling garbage all over his driveway and being chastised by his domineering mother (Christine Belford). At school, he's ignored by the girls and pushed around by a gang of thugs, led by Buddy Repperton (William Ostrander), who, at one point, slices Arnie's lunch bag open with a switchblade. Christine changes all that.  In her, Arnie finds the self-confidence he sorely lacked.  But soon enough, that confidence will mutate into an obsession, and anyone attempting to separate him from his beloved car will pay dearly for it, possibly even with their lives. 

Gordon does a remarkable job as Arnie, conveying both nerd and psychotic without once taking either to an unbelievable extreme. It's in his growth, and ultimate downfall, that the real horror of Christine lies.









2 comments:

Barl3y said...

The hand burst out of the grave, the grave! The bloody grave......

*assumes foetal position*

I will NEVER watch that scene again, as a young boy I had seen worse. But I just was not ready for that moment and it twisted me. Great movie and all but that scene Stayed with me for much longer then I would have liked.

Much like the pigs eating the woman in the bath in Evilspeak.

Ben Russell said...

I loved Christine! It's easily one of the best novel to film adaptations of Stephen King's works. (Along with Misery and Shawshank Redemption).