Horror Movie Review: Christine (1983)

We all know how it goes. Stephen King writes a book, someone out there tries to adapt it into a film and most times it turns out to be pretty awful. There are a few exceptions and one that is universally considered to be one of the better ones is Christine.

Directed by John Carpenter, the movie begins showing a newly assembled bright red 1958 Plymouth Fury in an assembly plant. It’s a beauty but it’s not your average, normal car as a couple of the workers find out.

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21 years later, the film introduces Arnie Cunningham (Keith Gordon) who is the most ‘standard nerd’ you’ll see this side of a nerd convention. He is incredibly awkward and very unpopular except with his friend, Dennis Guilder (John Stockwell). Dennis looks after Arnie as best he can, including standing up to some pretty horrid school bullies for him.

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It’s not just at school that Arnie runs into issues but at home as well with his controlling parents. All of that changes though when he comes across the battered and used shell of the 1958 Plymouth Fury known as Christine. Arnie falls in love with her instantly and against Dennis’ advice buys it from its current owner (who seems more than happy to get rid of it).

After revealing the car to his parents, Arnie is forced to keep the car at a local junkyard where he sets about working on restoring it. The more time spent with the car, the more Arnie’s personality begins to change. He becomes surly, arrogant and dismissive to those closest to him including Dennis who begins to suspect the car has something to do with it.

Christine doesn’t want anyone to get between her and Arnie though…

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A horror movie about a sentient car shouldn’t be good but thanks to great direction and great acting it really impresses. Keith Gordon is fantastic and as his number two, John Stockwell holds his own well. The pair have chemistry and as their relationship falters it makes for some really tense scenes.

It’s fun, it’s silly and at times it’s chilling. Christine is a car but her personality begins to shine through as the film goes on. Her and Arnie are in love and nothing will come between them.

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Where it does lose momentum is with its second half as it becomes a bit too predictable and ends in a showdown with a bulldozer that doesn’t quite hit the mark. The loss of tension harms its finale with a mostly forgettable final few scenes. When contrasted with the excellent character development and setup of the first half, it is a bit disappointing.

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That being said, Christine is still a very enjoyable movie and certainly one of the better Stephen King adaptions.

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