If you have never heard of the name Stephen King then you really should be pretty ashamed of yourself. Erm, no offense of course. Seriously though, he is awesome. One of the best known writers of our time, he has written so many classic horror novels that it’s almost impossible to pick a favorite. I do have one though, and my choice is not one of the obvious ones like for instance The Shining or The Stand. As much as I love those, for me it has so far always been the novel Christine that is my alltime number one King book. There is a very good reason behind my choice, but I will get to that later. However, as you might have noticed above, I’m not going to talk about the novel, but I will instead talk about the movie. Made by director John Carpenter (yes the same man who is behind Halloween), this is one of the better Stephen King adaptations and a film that I have seen more times than I can count. So what is it about this film that makes it such a compelling watch? Let’s hit the road and find out.
Arnie Cunnigham is a highschool student who just isn’t one of the most popular guys around. In fact that is quite the understatement. Arnie is a bit of a nerd, a fact that is exploited by the school bully Buddy Repperton. There is one bright spot though and that his friendship with the football jock Dennis. His friend always stands up for him and protects Arnie whenever possible. After a particularly nasty confrontation with Buddy, Arnie is driven home by Dennis. But while driving along Arnie all of a sudden screams out at Dennis begging him to stop. Having no idea what’s going on, Dennis stops, and looks on in bewilderment when his friend rushes out of the car towards an old beat up vehicle that has a for sale sign on it. It becomes even crazier when Arnie tells him he’s going to buy it. The old wreck is a Plymouth Fury from 1957 that goes by the name Christine. Dennis just can’t believe what has gotten into Arnie, buying a car that looks like it won’t live past tomorrow. However after a few weeks Christine looks as if she just rolled off the assembly line. A fact that is almost impossible to believe. The scary thing is though, that the car seems to have a life of it’s own. Arnie’s personality also changes overnight, and when people start dying under suspicious circumstances, it soon becomes clear that Christine is no ordinary car….
Everyone who has ever been bullied at school must have once had thoughts of taking revenge on the people that mistreated them. I know I sure have. And that’s one of the things that I enjoyed about this story, and why it’s still my favorite King novel. Bullying has an impact on your life, it certainly did on mine, and it’s extremely satisfying to see the revenge Arnie (or more accurately Christine) takes on his nemesis Buddy Repperton and his lackeys. That’s not to say that this doesn’t take things to the extreme though. There is also an underlying tone of deep sadness to this film. Dennis asks his friend in the beginning what Arnie sees in that beat up old car. He answers by saying that he has finally found something that is more ugly than he is. That line gets me every time. It’s so powerful, and extremely sad. All this goes to show how people change after being bullied and start believing in things that aren’t there.
But before this turns into a straight up sobfest, let us not forget that this movie is also a horror movie. And a very good one at that. One of the most fascinating things about this story is Arnie’s change in personality. While this is explored much better in the book, we still see it in the movie as well. In the beginning of the film he is a shy and nerdy young man, who is afraid to stand up for himself. But then, after buying Christine Arnie changes into a cocky, selfcentered and quite frankly obnoxious person, who even gets to date the most beautiful girl in the school. Of course with Christine’s influence becoming more and powerful, everything goes down hill faster and faster. It’s a scary journey to behold, but also one of the best things of the film. The other being Christine of course. No matter what happens to her, getting smashed, burned, it all matters very little. Christine always comes back. Something that is brought to life in a wonderful way by the special effects.
Carpenter manages to create a tense atmosphere throughout the entire movie. The score for the film was made by him as well, and only adds to the experience. All the actors in the film, no matter how small their parts, played their roles to perfection. Strangely enough most of the cast never really made big progress in their careers after the release of this movie. A fun note is that Alexandra Paul, who would later appear in quite a few seasons of Baywatch, played Arnie’s girlfriend. She is almost unrecognisable here. So if it hasn’t already become clear, I love this film. For me it’s always been one of Carpenter’s best movies and even after all these years it’s lost none of it’s strength, nor is it in any way dated. Important to note is that the film is not gory at all, but more a very tense thriller. I highly recommend this movie and it can be enjoyed by pretty much everyone. So go and watch it, and don’t forget to put on your seatbelt. Always watch responsibly.
I give Christine a 9 out of 10 score.