Christine

01/21/2019 15:12

Film: Christine

Year: 1983

Director: John Carpenter

Writer: Bill Phillips

Starring: Keith Gordon, John Stockwell and Alexandra Paul

 

Review:

This was a film that I had sought out in college when I was determined to watch all the films based off of works by Stephen King. He is my favorite writer and that was really something I was doing to get more acclimated with horror films I hadn’t seen. It was an added bonus when I learned that John Carpenter was the director of this film. The official synopsis is a nerdish boy buys a strange car with an evil mind of its own and his nature starts to change to reflect it.

We kick off back when the car was first built in Detroit, Michigan. It is 1957 I believe and the car is a 1957 Plymouth Fury. The day it is coming off the assembly line, one man is maimed by the car and another is killed inside of it. This isn’t in the original novel, but was added that this car was evil from the beginning.

It then shifts to the present. We get introduced to our main characters. We have Arnie Cunningham (Keith Gordon) who is a nerdy guy. He has overbearing parents who don’t really let him live his life. His best friend is a jock, Dennis Guilder (John Stockwell). He does what he can to protect his friend, even though they are seemingly from different worlds. I actually really like this aspect of the film. We normally see that when two friends hit high school, they go their separate ways as they explore different things. These two stick together and I thought it adds an interesting element.

Two major things happen on their first day. Arnie is severely bullied by Buddy Repperton (William Ostrander) and his two friends. He actually pulls a knife on him. Dennis and Arnie point this out to a teacher and Buddy is kicked out of school. This will come back into play later. The other is that a beautiful new student starts there, Leigh Cabot (Alexandra Paul).

On their way home, Arnie sees a car in a yard that is for sale. It is the Plymouth Fury we saw in the beginning of the film, but it has fallen into disrepair. Arnie ends up buying it off the old man who tells him that the name of the car is Christine. Arnie’s parents won’t let him keep it there so he has to go to the local junkyard. A man named Will Darnell (Robert Prosky) allows him to keep it there, but for a price.

Arnie starts to fix the car up and getting it to look almost brand new. He also arrives at a football game with Leigh. It is at this game that Dennis gets hurt. Arnie is acting different too. That night Buddy and his friends destroy the car. It doesn’t stay like that and it is out for revenge.

This film really has a solid deeper meaning to it that I didn’t pick up on until this time watching it. The interaction of Arnie with his parents we see that they are quite controlling of him. He actually says to Dennis that he thinks part of it is if he starts to do more adult things, they lose him as their son. I do have friends with overbearing parents so that is an interesting way to look at it. Christine is giving Arnie the energy and even making it to where he doesn’t need his glasses. The novel is interesting in that Arnie I know is covered in zits and might be overweight. The car helps to clear all of that up. It becomes a symbiotic relationship where both of them need each other. It doesn’t go as deep as that in the film, but we get enough of it.

I do have an issue with the relationship with Leigh and Arnie. It really happens rapidly and ends much in the same way. I just think that could have been fleshed out a little bit, as she really doesn’t seem to be all that needed for the film. Most of it is just to show that he has become confident thanks to Christine, but seeing how they came together and when things were going good would have helped.

This brings me to the pacing of the film. I do think that the film is a little bit slow. The longer running time might contribute to that. It takes almost to the forty minute mark where something happens. I get that the car needs to be fixed before it can do anything, but it took a bit for me to get into it. Once it has though, the film really picks up and builds tension. I do like how it ends and making you wonder if it is all over or not.

The acting is something that I thought was solid. Gordon really does embody the role for the film. I do think they should have done a little bit more before he gets Christine to really play up its effects on him. He has low self-esteem and glasses, but maybe the acne could have helped as well. Stockwell is good as the jock friend. I have touched on that I like he isn’t your normal jock though. I like the dynamic between him and Arnie. Paul is gorgeous in the film, but I think she is really underutilized. Prosky is good as the jerk who is allowing Arnie to use his garage. I also want to shout-out to Harry Dean Stanton, who is the detective when the murders start. Same goes to Ostrander, Steven Tash, Stuart Charno and a young Kelly Preston as well for rounding out the film with their acting.

Something that really blew me away for this film was the effects. It is amazing how they could destroy the car and make it look like it was fixing itself. I have read up a little bit at what they did, using hydraulics and I’m assuming shooting it one way and then playing it in reverse. Whatever they did, it was great. Seeing this car do things that it probably shouldn’t be able to was good as well. This film was also shot very well and it looks great.

I did notice that Carpenter did the music along with Alan Howarth. For the most part we get old Rock ‘n Roll songs, but I like how they incorporate the lyrics to how the car seems to be talking to the characters. We also get some great musical cues that this duo is really good at. This isn’t the best score that they have done, but I thought it was still solid. It fit for what the film needed and helped to build the tension of the scenes.

Now with that said, this is a solid adaptation of a King novel. I like the idea of a car being something of evil from the beginning. The film really has a deeper concept though of growing up and how it can change us. I like that the car is able to fix itself, but also make Arnie into a better looking and more confident human. The problem does become though him becoming worse because of it. I do think there was a bit of a pacing issue for the film. The effects were great while the score of the film was really good. Acting for the film was solid as well. This isn’t my favorite from Carpenter, but this is a definitely a good film. I would recommend giving it a viewing.

 

My Rating: 8 out of 10