Christine (1983)

Christine (1983)

“It’s that car — I swear, it’s the car.”

A football star (John Stockwell) is concerned when his bullied friend Arnie (Keith Gordon) purchases and restores a run-down 1958 Plymouth Fury named Christine from a local coot (Roberts Blossom), begins dating a beautiful new girl (Alexandra Paul) at school, and shows increasingly car-obsessed behavior. But a detective (Harry Dean Stanton) sent to investigate wonders: is it Arnie or Christine that’s causing so much mayhem and murder around town?

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Character Arc
  • Harry Dean Stanton Films
  • Horror Films
  • John Carpenter Films
  • Possession
  • Stephen King Adaptations

Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary writes that Stephen King’s “undistinguished” novel “about a killer automobile — a subject that’s been done to death on television and in film — is given a visually impressive but extremely impersonal treatment by John Carpenter.” He argues that this “unpleasant film has few surprises” (I disagree) and that it “lacks an important transition scene in which the shy Gordon becomes a ladies’ man capable of approaching someone like Paul” (agreed). Peary adds that “also missing are scenes in which Gordon at least tries to ward off Christine’s control — Gordon becomes thoroughly obnoxious so quickly that we don’t really care what happens to him” (though I’m not sure this is so important, given that Christine-the-car is clearly possessed by a malevolent spirit that has infected Gordon as well). Ultimately, Peary posits that “Carpenter paid so much attention to the special effects relating to Christine” (which are nicely handled) “that he forgot about character development”, which I would concede is the case. However, it’s undeniably freaky watching Christine take her revenge on those she feels have wronged her — and the film is well-made enough to recommend to those enjoy this type of fare.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Several exciting chase and hunt sequences
  • Fine special effects

Must See?
No, though it’s worth a look by fans of the genre.


3 thoughts on “Christine (1983)

  1. ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2 out of ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    One of the most underrated films by John Carpenter that captures it’s world of bullying and teens etc very well. Excellent performances and the ambiguity of the relationship betwixt car and teen is well conveyed; we’re not sure if the teen is responsible until near the end. However good it may be this is not a must see film though. Having read the book I think I prefer the film as it tightens things up and makes the story more ambiguous.

  2. I completely disagree with the assertion that character development suffers at the expense of SPFX. Arnie Cunningham is extremely well characterised, not always likeable and brilliantly played by Keith Gordon. The supporting parts are also well drawn and well played; certainly enough for the film’s ambitions and narrative.

  3. Rewatched this. Not must-see, though it’s certainly watchable. Mainly for Stephen King fans.

    You’ve got to hand it to King; he has concocted some ‘out-there’ stuff. (Admittedly, I was something of a King fan when he began, with ‘Carrie’. I read most of his major work up to ‘Misery’ and then stopped. I didn’t read ‘Christine’.)

    It has apparently been generally said that Carpenter’s film improves on the novel – which, in its own way, is a reworking of ‘Carrie’ (with a few significant differences). It has the same high school milieu; the same downtrodden protagonist who gains a ‘power’.

    The film is also full of the kind of dialogue you’d expect for this kind of story (i.e., as noted, “I swear, it’s the car!”)

    I don’t agree with Peary that the film “lacks an important transition scene in which the shy Gordon becomes a ladies’ man capable of approaching someone like Paul”. We do see that scene but it’s a very quiet one – with Arnie alone in his car (in the garage) when he first becomes possessed. The transition is so quiet that it can be easy to miss it.

    A few moments threaten to be unintentionally funny: Christine magically repairing herself; Christine on fire; Christine’s demise.

    But overall the film accomplishes what it sets out to do. My fave scene is the way the film opens – with the pitch-perfect use of George Thorogood and The Destroyers’ ‘Bad to the Bone’. As snazzy as it is creepy.

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