My Life in Horror 1983 – Christine

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Along with with Videodrome which you can read my review of by clicking HERE! the good people of Twitter also voted in Christine for me to watch and review. I hadn’t seen this for a long long time and although I like everyone else knew/knows the basic concept I had trouble recalling any of the film. My missus loves this film so she knew what to expect more than me when we settled down to give this classic a watch.

Poster art for John Carpenter's CHRISTINE (1983)

Director – John Carpenter

Writer – Stephen King novel and Bill Phillips screenplay

Stars – Keith Gordon, John Stockwell, Alexandra Paul, Robert Prosky, Harry Dean Stanton and Roberts Blossom.

Run Time – 110 minutes

Budget – $9.7 million estimated.

Tag Line – How do you kill something that can’t possibly be alive?

Trivia – According to Bill Phillips on the DVD Documentary, the movie technically didn’t have enough violence to justify an “R” rating. But they were afraid that if the movie went out with a PG rating (PG-13 didn’t exist yet) nobody would go to see it. So he purposely inserted the word “fuck” and its derivatives in order to get the “R” rating. He then recalls that they were criticized at the time for their use of the word.

Trivia – Stephen King‘s popularity was such at the time that the film went into production before the book was even published.

Trivia – To simulate the car regenerating itself, hydraulic pumps were installed on the inside of some of the film’s numerous Plymouth Fury “stunt doubles”, a mock-up in plastic that looked more like metal on camera than actual metal as it bent and deformed. These pumps were attached to cables, which were in turn attached to the cars’ bodywork and when they compressed, they would “suck” the paneling inwards. Footage of the inward crumpling body was then reversed, giving the appearance of the car spontaneously retaking form

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It’s 1958 and a red Plymouth Fury rolls off the production line we don’t know why or how but the car begins to hurt and kill people straight away as they die in accidents around it shortly after it’s creation. Fast forward 20 years and we meet Arnie, a nerdy teen who no one really likes other than his football playing friend Dennis. Arnie is a stereotypical nerd of the times his thick black glasses his beaten down manner but Dennis tries to stick up for him as well as he can.

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As you’d expect with any story of this time period especially one from Stephen King Arnie is bullied and as you’d also expect with films from this era the bullies always end up getting what they deserve. The pair are on their way home when Arnie spots a battered old red Plymouth Fury for sale, against Dennis’s wishes and his parents he buys the car as a project to do up.

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Whilst working on the car Arnie starts to change, becoming obsessed with the car. Eventually he shocks everyone when he pulls up to the local school game in a shiny perfect looking car but he’s also managed to pull the most attractive girl in school. Dennis is shocked but not as shocked as Arnie’s parents who are noticing a change in their son, his mannerisms the way he handles himself and strangely the fact he has stopped wearing his glasses are things everyone picks up on.

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Things start to get even weirder when the car seems to attack Arnie’s girlfriend. Not only that but several other people who either attempt to damage the car or get in Arnie’s way end up getting hurt. He’s a changed man/boy by this point and all he cares about is Christine. This eventually all leads to Dennis and Leigh confronting the car in a strange but entertaining battle to end the grip the car has on their friend.

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The Good

  • Arnie’s change is great to watch, from nerd to cool kid with a cool car and a hot girlfriend.
  • Dennis the jock not being a dick and looking after Arnie and seeing their relationship change over the course of the film is great to watch.
  • The car is sexy.
  • The mystic around the car is great and not spelling out exactly why Christine was like she is was good. Too often everything is revealed and although leaving things to guess work can backfire Christine does this perfectly.
  • Linking to the previous point, during the kill scenes Christine’s windows are blacked out. Now I’ve read this was to easily hide the stunt drivers, however it also serves two fold, leaving us guessing if Arnie was in fact driving all the time or not.
  • The history of the car when revealed.
  • The ending was great, the last “battle” entertaining and the final scene was a nice touch.

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The Bad

  • Some stereotypical characters.
  • Why’s everyone fancy Leigh when clearly the cheerleader that fancied Dennis was much more attractive, getting picky I know!
  • The whole bullying thing seems to crop up a lot in films like this, however it is an essential part of the story.

I loved this film and although most people pick out The Shining as the best example of a Stephen King book being brought to live I honestly prefer this and The Stand. This film is paced brilliantly and never seems to drag even for a minute nor did I spend any time bored. The pace is helped but how great Arnie’s change is from nerd to cool kid to maybe killer? If you’ve never seen this then where the hell have you been? Go and get it watched right now, I demand it!

Overall Rating – 9/10

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2 thoughts on “My Life in Horror 1983 – Christine

  1. Pingback: My Life in Horror 1983 – Christine — AcidBurnsHorrorshow | Flesh and Bone

  2. I saw this a few years ago with a friend, and we both agreed even if it wasn’t so dated, it left a lot to be desired, especially in terms of characterization. And by God, they don’t even mention Leigh’s name! She’s just “brown-haired love interest” in our heads.

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