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Sunday, February 28, 2010


     An awkward, shy high-schooler buys a delapidated 1958 Plymouth Fury and soon finds himself completely and totally under its spell.  The car, born on a Detriot assembly line, is no ordinary car.  Deep within lives an evil, indestructible vengeance that will destroy anybody who gets in her way...

     There's something fascinating about "Christine"-I'm including both novel and film here.   Of all his books, "Christine" is criminally underrated, especially the ones from his golden years, and upon recently revisiting the book, I still find it to be one of his best.  King takes an unlikely and somewhat silly premise and makes it totally chilling and believable.  As for the movie, John Carpenter did a fantastic job translating it to the big screen.  Carpenter's work is always either hit or miss- and when he hits, it's a home run ("Halloween", "The Fog", "The Thing"...).  "Christine" most definitely falls into the 'hit' category.

     Starting the movie with a sharply compelling look at teenage life in the late 70's,  the movie soon takes a much darker turn as Arnie Cunningham stumbles across the rusty dinosaur that is Christine.  He immediately becomes hellbent on fixing the car up, his own personality making a frightening metamorphosis in the process.  Carpenter has assembled a great cast of actors here, and working from a great script, the movie comes off as far more mature than your average teenage horror film.  The acting is pretty damn good, especially Keith Gordon.  His Arnie is completely believable, and his intimate scenes with the car are honestly frightening.  Watching his transformation from lonely nerd to stud is a tense and creepy process.

      John Stockwell, apart from being great eye-candy and a likable hero, also delivers a strong performance as Arnie's best friend Dennis.  Alexandra Paul adds a dose of camp to the mix, and we're treated to a slew of great cameos- including Harry Dean Stanton, Robert Proskey, and Roberts Blossom.  "Christine" made a huge impact on me back in the day, and it hasn't aged one bit- everything still rings true and holds up just fine today..  And you will never forget the scenes with Christine mercilessly going after the bullies who taunt Arnie, especially the haunting shot of Christine silently gliding down a dark highway in flames.  It's an unforgettable scene, and a truly chilling one.

     Shot during a time when graphic and violent death scenes were extremely popular, "Christine" defied the current trend and managed to be scary without throwing a bunch of blood and guts at us.  With slick, polished cinematography, an awesomely spooky Carpenter score, and a jukebox worth of classic 50's oldies (which highly adds to the overall effect and makes the songs themselves spooky...), "Christine" is a great but lost movie from the magical 80's.  Silly?  Sure.  Let's be honest.  But an oh-so-satisfying revenge flick nonetheless!  Hands down the best "killer car" movie of all time- yet it's also a much more deep look at isolation and the agonies of the teenage years.  Like I said, I think this movie is vastly underrated.  

     Carpenter was definitely in "on" mode with this one- his direction mixed with the cinematography of Donald M. Morgan (which makes great use of the widescreen photography) certainly helps the movie. "Christine" is a completely different kind of horror movie- movies like this don't come along very often.  It's not out to gross us out- there's really only a smidge of blood in the whole movie.  It's more of an eerie little movie.  "Christine" is a great story to begin with.  Let's be real.  I don't honestly see how it could have been brought to life any better- besides a couple of scenes here and there that were cut from the story, for whatever reasons.  I think Carpenter and team did a pretty respectable job bringing King's book to life.  This is John Carpenter at his peak- and his last great effort, in my humble opinion, after the magnificent "The Thing".  This movie deserves the deluxe DVD treatment- hopefully one day we'll see one.  And the book it's based on is an amazingly rich read- it was one of the first King books I ever read, and is still one of my favorites.  I highly recommend taking a ride in Stephen King's lean, mean killing machine.

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