My Favorite Movies – Christine (1983)

13 Oct

By Tanner Smith

John Carpenter reportedly didn’t put as much passion into the 1983 Stephen King adaptation “Christine,” because he was still going through depression brought on by the overwhelmingly negative reception of “The Thing,” a film he put his heart and soul into…

I honestly couldn’t tell, because I think “Christine” is one of his best films.

Seriously, I love this film. And it’s a film about a killer car–you’d have to be a very skilled director to make something like that work. Even though this was basically a work-for-hire, Carpenter didn’t treat it as such…or maybe he did, and it still turned out well despite that.

I think part of the reason the film works is because of two things. One is the lead character, Arnie (Keith Gordon), who is already a creep and a dweeb before his influence from the malevolent presence inside the car turns him into a jerk with aggressive tendencies. That not only makes his story more interesting but also more tragic in how his story ends. He’s basically made a deal with the devil, to get the girl and look cool, and in exchange, he’ll do what he feels needs to be done (or what Christine tells him needs to be done).

And another important reason it works is because of the slow buildup to the true terror that occurs midway through the film. We’re already put in a realistic setting, and the characters of Arnie and his best friend Dennis (John Stockwell) feel real enough, and because of that, we’re more able to accept when the supernatural takes over and the car has a mind of its own that goes on a killing spree against Arnie’s bullies.

And when the car does spring into action, it makes for some pretty awesome chase sequences. My favorite scene is one in which Christine chases the bully Moochie–I especially love when Moochie stops and looks back where he was being followed, only to find that it’s coming another direction.

Stephen King has always been good at revenge stories, which is why it’s satisfying when so many of the crappier people in “Christine,” based on his novel, get their comeuppances. But did that one guy seriously have to get inside the car? It’s almost like he was asking to be squashed to death. (Actually, Darnell’s death in the book was crazier than that…look it up if you want.)

And there’s the climax with Christine going up against a bulldozer–simply put, it’s awesome!

I’m not going to lie–“Christine” is my second-favorite John Carpenter film. “Halloween” is first obviously, and “The Thing” and “Starman” are fighting for the number-three spot, while “They Live” and “Big Trouble in Little China” fight to squeeze into the top-5…it’s difficult, guys. I love “Christine”…probably even more than the King book.

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