22
Oct
09

Horror Movies on DVD Review: Christine

christine

 

It’s a love story about a boy… and his demonic car.

Starring Keith Gordon, Alexandra Paul, John Stockwell, Robert Prosky, and Harry Dean Stanton. Directed by John Carpenter. Based on the novel by Stephen King.

Arnie (Gordon) and Dennis (Stockwell) are best friends despite their roles in the high school caste system. Arnie is your high school nerd brought up being part of the chess team, forced to study a lot, wimpish personal character, etc. Dennis is the jock; the high school number one football player. Dennis puts up for and helps Arnie out because they’ve been friends since childhood.

Enter Girl #1: Leigh (Paul). The new girl in school. Dennis is suddenly interested in her and try as he might, fails on delivery; she already has a date for the dance after the big game.

Enter Girl #2: Christine. At first sight she’s a definite fixer-upper. She’s rusted-over, out-of-shape, and a little beyond general disrepair. For Arnie it’s love at first sight. The crotchety old man selling it (Roberts Blossom) said that his brother, six weeks dead, loved the car and that he’s selling it to get a condo. Dennis thinks Arnie is crazy and tries talking him, and the old man, out of the whole deal. No dice. Arnie buys the car on the spot and takes her to meet the parents.

Mom and Dad Cunningham disapprove of her and Arnie is forced to take her elsewhere, ending up at Darnell’s Auto Shop where owner Darnell (Prosky) throws his weight around, threatening Arnie in the event that there should be any mischief. Arnie agrees to the terms.

The football game provides the crux of future events: Arnie is going out with Leigh, a group of guys pissed at Arnie plan to exact revenge on his car, and Dennis zigs when he should’ve zagged and wakes in the hospital, an inch away from paralysis. Arnie comes to visit Dennis and they talk. Apparently, Arnie has been spending more time with Christine than his girlfriend, parents, or even best friend. Arnie concedes that Christine is almost finished and looking better than ever, and Arnie is reflecting that change in himself.

Thus begins Arnie’s slow descent into heavy metal madness with the help of Christine. His girlfriend refuses to get into the car after almost choking on a burger and Christine locking the doors, not letting anyone in. The guys who assaulted Arnie earlier in the film and even destroyed Christine are subsequently hunted down and dealt with. Christine is one mean machine.

Detective Junkins (Stanton) comes to question Arnie. It seems that Darnell was found dead inside Christine and the guys who harassed him were all murdered. Arnie shows his new attitude, protecting Christine. Meanwhile Leigh gets with Dennis and the two plan a way to get rid of Christine and hopefully save Arnie.

From the 1957 open with the “birth” of Christine on the factory line and “Bad to the Bone” playing in the background to Arnie’s introduction to the car to the car fixing itself or driving around engulfed in flames to the end at a junkyard, “Christine” is a great adaptation of Stephen King’s loves: cars, horror, and rock ‘n roll. If you’ve read his work, not just this novel, this movie is a great marriage of his themes with a story without necessarily being a 100% dead-on take on the novel the movie is based on.

The only real drawback to the film is that it’s interesting. Not overly-engrossing but better than amusing. To Carpenter’s credit the film has aged decently and the story can still hold-up without feeling completely stilted or stuck in its time. While our current culture thrives on more emotion being in a film, this one does a good job at mixing action and emotion without sacrificing too much of either.

Is it scary? There are a few parts that the easily scared can probably freak-out at, but for the most part it’s more a dissertation on the descent into metal hell than “this car will kill everyone.” That job was for the truck in “Duel.” It is an entertaining film, and the scene where the car is on fire running a kid down should be in the Hall of Greatest Scenes Ever Filmed.

My grade: B

Hor-O-Meter Level: 2 – “Eight dollars for beer nuts? This room is evil.”

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