4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 26, 2004
Arnold Cunningham (Gordon) finds just that car, which happens to be Christine. It's broken down, rusted and in overall poor condition when he sees it, but he doesn't care. He is going to own this car, and nothing is going to stop him. He spends his college money he's been saving over the summer to fix her up, and in a relatively short time Christine is back up and running.
Shortly after getting Christine, Arnold starts changing from the nervous unsure nerd into someone who has a lot of confidence. He even loses his glasses, and starts dating the new student Leigh Cabot (Paul), tagged by the other high shool guys as the most beautiful girl in school. Christine has a symbiot relationship with her owners, where each draws from the love they have for each other. Of course, owning Christine is destructive, as even a mild-mannered kid like Arnold is seduced by the car's evil, eventually not caring who gets hurt when it comes to Christine.
The school is populated by all the same kids you went to school with if you were in high school in the early eighties, like me. The jocks, the nerds, the toughs (Ostrander's Buddy Repperton) and the tough's click of groupies, who feed off his energy. Strangely, just the same type relationship that Christine has with her owners.
The writing is really good, especially the scenes where the high schoolers are interacting with each other. Took me right back to my own high school days. The music is also extremely effective, although the music composed for the movie is very reminiscent of the music for HALLOWEEN. The best part of the music for me, though, is how the music that Christine plays fits the action that is currently happening. One of my all-time favorite movie soundtracks.
There have been a lot of "killer car" movies, including THE CAR, KILLER CAR, MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE and even KILLDOZER. But none of them have the magic that CHRISTINE pulls off. While there have been some good movies in this sub-genre, the ones I've seen aren't as good. I think it's due to the source material of Stephen King's novel (in which Cristine was a 4-door) and Carpenter's direction. Combined, it turned out an excellent movie.
Th effects are also very well-done. Especially the scene where Christine basically rebuilds herself. It was done with prefabbed balloons, but unless you really look for it, you can't tell. And the scene where a flaming Christine chases one of the toughs down the road is a shot that was also extremely well done.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 16, 2004
This is "John Capenter's" Christine--not Stephen King's Christine. The film takes the basic idea of the film much the same way Kubrick took the basic idea of the Shining and made it his own. While the book is better--a book is a book and a film is a film. There was no way at the time that John Carpenter could've staged the scenes with Christine back in 1983. Even now the budget would be huge. I'm speaking of Darnell's death and the death of Buddy out on the icy roads. John Carpenter may not be fond of this film but he should be--it's one of his last films that looked and felt like a "John Carpenter film." The cinematography is fantastic, the music is classic Carpenter music, and it's pretty well acted. It may not be the most frightening King adaptation but it's one of the best directed (technically) and one of the best photographed. All in all it's one of Carpenter's best; after all it is his version of the book. Changes aside, it's well worth the viewing considering the mindless, no-talent crap that passes for horror these days at the cinema.
on March 18, 2004
John Carpenter's CHRISTINE (1983) is teenage horror/suspense in the fine tradition of CARRIE. Like the aforementioned (and superior) classic, it involves an introverted teenage outcast who is ruled by an iron fist at home, is bullied endlessly by mean-spirited jerks, and destroys them with supernatural powers that are understood only by the protagonist. In that same tradition, however, our hero loses control over her/his powers and is eventually destroyed by them. That's the basic formula in a nutshell. However, before you can shout, "Ripoff!" let it be known that CHRISTINE gives us a unique treatment of the same basic theme, and ends up being a complete story that is unique, well-paced and suspenseful in its own right. Plus, it also has terrific acting.
Keith Gordon, as the nerdy Arnie Cunningham whose personality is transformed by the titular red 1958 Plymouth Fury that he buys in order to help win the attention of Leigh Cabot (the winsome Alexandra Paul), is brilliant and spellbinding in his portrayal of this very fragile character. His slow but steady descent into revenge, cruelty and madness is especially intriguing; he goes from being a very sympathetic character in the first half of the film to a complete raging sociopath by its end. Psychologically, his transition from shy doormat to dangerous monster is perhaps even more frightening than Carrie White's parallel metamorphosis; Carrie lost everybody who was--or whom she thought was--on her side, but Arnie ends up losing his soul.
In addition to Keith Gordon's terrific performance, we have John Stockwell as Arnie's best friend Dennis, who unsuccessfully tries to keep Arnie from going off the deep end. Also in a memorable supporting role is the venerable Robert Prosky, going totally against type to play the grouchy, scruffy, foulmouthed auto-body shop owner Will Darnell. Although the wonderful veteran character actor Harry Dean Stanton appears in this film, he is very much wasted in the thankless role of Detective Rudolph Junkins, whose only function is to show up every once in a while to ask Arnie some suspicious questions after someone gets offed. (It is of note that the future Mrs. John Travolta herself, Kelly Preston, has a bit part as well.)
CHRISTINE may not be the best Horror film ever made, but I do think that it's one of the best. The story is extremely interesting and really hooks you from the first scene onwards. In addition to the acting, the editing is first-rate; indeed, it is so good that the premise of a possessed and evil car actually looks believable! Then there is the music: 50's Rock 'N' Roll makes up the most of the soundtrack, although George Thorogood's early-80's classic "Bad To The Bone" is used to good effect. The car's radio is practically a character-within-a-character, and is used so effectively that the first sound of it inspires a real sense of danger. Of course, John Carpenter has to be fully commended for a great job in bringing Stephen King's vision to life on the screen.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED FOR HORROR FANS
on December 27, 2003
Stephen King movies have always been spotty. You get some good ones going, and mediocre to bad ones immediatley come along. It goes back and fourth. This film adaption of King's book of the same name is somewhere between 'okay' and 'pretty decent'. I read the book 8 or 9 years ago and haven't read it since, so my knowledge of the differences between the book and this movie is practically non-existent. What I do know is that this film adaption is a fun little thriller, but is far away from being the best film adaption of a King work, or being near the best of the film's director and composer, John Carpenter. The film centers around young, geeky Arnie Cunningham, who is played by Keith Gordon, who is known for his victimized teen in "Jaws 2", the son of Angie Dickinson in "Dressed To Kill", and the collegiate son of Rodney Dangerfield in "Back To School". Arnie is the classic dork. Dark Buddy Holly glasses, poor wardrobe, bad hair, and an unfortunate physique. It doesn't help any that he is also under his parents' iron thumb. He spots a beat up old car one day while out with his best friend Dennis Gilder(John Stockwell), and buys the car on the spot from the creepy old man who was selling it. Dennis tries to talk him out of it, and his parents even more so, but an upset Arnie keeps it and stores at the auto body shop Darnell's, the namesake played by veteran actor Robert Prosky. But the car, named Christine, has a mind of it's own and it's possession of Arnie soon takes hold. He thinks of nothing but the car, stands up to his parents, starts doing his hair different and stops wearing glasses and nerdy clothes and begins dating the cutest girl in school Leigh Capp, who is played by future "Baywatch" star, Alexandra Paul. And when people and bullies get to Arnie, Christine takes care of them all with her special brand of possessive love. Can Dennis and Leigh save Arnie before it's too late?. You'll have to watch to see. Carpenter is a master at fine suspense and thriller, and while this 1983 effort isn't overly scary, he still manages to supply some of his trademark Carpenter creepiness into a number of scenes. Most of which having to do with Christine's midnight jaunts of horror and mayhem. Things are also given the right mood by Carpenter's subtle, but yet eerily effecting score he keeps playing to the right degree in the background. Keith Gordon is the best of the bunch. He really delivers a contained and realistic performance of a high school nerd dealing with the pressures of every day life that range from strict parents, to bullies in the school hallways, and to generally being a social outcast. He impresses the viewer further when the transformation takes place and gets stronger, more bolder, and grows a back bone. Good job. The rest are all solid enough, especially Prosky, and Harry Dean Stanton who appears in a surprisingly small role as a detective, but it is Gordon that owns the movie and makes the biggest impression. Stockwell is a very likeable presence and has a nice charm to him, but Alexandra Paul is barely given enough time to become a character and before you know it she is already involved with Arnie and the crisis that ensues. One of the film's best assets is the use of old time rock and roll that is peppered throughout the movie. George Thorogood's "Bad To The Bone" is especially perfect for the nature of the film. And while I have given mostly good things to say about the film, it isn't without it's flaws. The biggest question, and biggest flaw, that never got answered was how Christine got to be the kind of car she was. Maybe it was in the book and I can't remember or I just missed something, but why not give a little explanation as to why the car was possessed?. Besides all that, the film is solidly put together into a pretty okay package that would certainly be fun for a nostalgic trip back to early 1980's terror.
on December 12, 2003
The teaming of horror titans, director John Carpenter and author Stephen King, could have been something really special. Instead, it can only be described as just ok, thanks in large part to a few problems behind the scenes.
Based on King's novel of the same name, Christine tells the story of a geeky high school student, Arnie Cunningham (Kieth Gordon). He has very few friends, low self esteem, and is a zero with the ladies. Indeed, the only thing he can count on is his car. A total wreck at first, Arnie gets more then he thought possible, after the car is repaired. With a history of death and destruction, the car takes on the job of protecting its owner from anyone or anything that stands in his way.
Carpenter has said publically that he isn't too fond of his efforts on Christine. It shows... Script issues and production limits hampered the film a bit as compared to the book. While I would say that the film has its share of missteps, thanks to a solid lead performance and plenty of Carpenter's trademark cynacism and anti-authority sebtext, still make it watchabble. The "death" scenes are well staged and may I say, even fun.
Given the movie's history, I can understand why the extras on the DVD are slim, but it would have been nice to see the original theatrical trailer at least. Instead, all you do get are paltry production notes and cast bios, and the option of watching the movie in either the widescreen or fullscreen formats.
Not one of Carpenter's best, to be sure, but still worth a look.
on October 11, 2003
It's an impossible task: how do you make a movie about a demonic car scary? The answer, apparently, is: you don't. There is not one single scare in this entire movie, nor are there any particular chills. There are a couple of chase scenes that exude a momentary sense of apprehension, but as horror movies go, this is not one for the ages.
That's not to say it's a bad movie, though. It isn't. Just not a scary one. The acting is fairly good; the score (composed of typically nice, if spare, Carpenter synth work and of rock songs) is effective; the cinematography is consistently outstanding; and the special effects are top-notch, way WAY better than anything that would be done via CGI today.
The main problem with the movie, really, is that it's a movie about a haunted (or possessed, or something) car, in which we find out very little about why the car is evil. Okay, fine. Instead, the movie tries to be sort of a metaphor for the difficulty of being a high school outcast, and for the dangers of obsession. The movie fails at these objectives, as well. There is very little dramatic cohesion at work; by the end of the movie, you just don't much care about anyone in it. Every time I see it, I'm left wishing that there had been a lot more murderous-car-crushing-the-unjust action. Goodness knows, there isn't much else to enjoy.
I'm not trashing the movie, though. There are individual scenes that are very good, and that makes the movie worth seeing.
on March 20, 2003
This movie wastes no time getting to the scarry part. The beginning is scarry and somewhat violent. Movie has it's humor spots and Teenage love scenes; but for the most part, it is scarry and violent! Don't let your kids under 13 watch it; cause it has some real violent scenes in it. I mean full view violent, like a car hitting a person running from it; and there is NO DRIVER in the car. Movie capitalizes on showing had bad a person can be injured by a car; by running over a person, squeezing them in the front seat, causing fire at a gas station. The car itself, is EVIL. Enough said. Has good ending though. Actors and Actresses are very good in this movie. Movie is more fictional than real life. Has some real life scenes; but mainly is a horror movie; and it will get to you. The music in this movie is classic, 1950s rock and roll, and very good. You will love hearing songs in this movie; if you you are into 1950s rock and roll. Lots of good hits in this movie. The car's radio only plays 1950s songs, all the time. Horror movie with Classic Car.
on November 21, 2002
When a Red & White 1958 Plymont Fury was bulit with unique standard equipement, Born on an Automobile assembly line in Detroit. Somehow that Car has an Evil, Indestructible Vengeance that will destory anyone in her way. When a bright 17 year-old Arnie Cunningham (Keith Gordon) buys that car, 20 years later and then suddently, he becomes cosumed with passion for her Sleek, Rounded, Chrome-Laden body. Naming his car-Christine, when Arnie see though the car and being fascinated by it. Arnie's best friend (John Stockwell) tries to help him, including Arnie's girlfriend (Alexandra Paul) and his Parents (Christine Belford & Robert Darnell) but Arnie gives his complete and unquestioned devotion and desire to Christine.
Directed by John Carpenter (Starman, Big Trouble in Little China, They Live) made a strong, terrific scary film without bring gory. It's a triumph of Suspense and Atmosphere. This is a Exceptional moment in Carpenter's Career, this has an forceful performance by Gordon. It's also well acted, well directed and also well produced. This was a Hit at the Box Office and also has an great soundtrack. Based on a novel by Stephen King (The Shining, Maximum Overdrive, The Stand) and this has an fine Screenplay by Bill Phillips. Carpenter also did the score for this film. This has good supporting performances by Robert Prosky, Harry Dean Stanton & Robert Blossom. Gordon & Stockwell are now Film Directors. Gordon is best known for directing:A Midnight Clear and Waking the Dead. Stockwell is best know for directing:Crazy/Beautiful and Blue Crush. Watch for a young:Kelly Preston. Panavision. Grade:A-.
on September 3, 2002
A lot of people say that John Carpenter lost it shortly after making the horror classic, Halloween. I say, huh? No way. Halloween came out in '78, The Fog in '80, The Thing in '82, and this wonderful adaptation of the equally inspired Stephen King book came out in '83. Ok, so The Fog is never going to receive the kind of acclaim that Halloween has, but let's not overlook the others. I still think The Thing is one of his best movies, and superior to the original in many ways. I remember loving Christine when I first read it, despite a somewhat slow beginning, so I was excited to see how it would translate to the big screen. I was not disappointed.
Carpenter took a plot that could have easily slid into hokum (a car that comes to life and forms an all-too dangerous bond with its owner) and successfully created an underrated gem of a horror movie. Acting, music (by Carpenter as usual), effects, great twist ending - it all works wonderfully.
Add to the mix some very memorable sequences and creative use of some classic rock songs (they'll never quite sound the same again) and you've got a welcome addition to any horror-fan's collection.
If you're open-minded enough to accept the plot, you're in for a real treat. Carpenter may be best known for Halloween, but to me he'll be known as the guy who took what might've been the hardest Stephen King story to adapt, and created a masterpiece.
on July 28, 2002
Christine, John Carpenter's version of the Stephen King book, doesn't add up despite some great elements. But after having read the novel I don't think there was much else he could do.
This movie has at least one or two unforgettable scenes centering around the 58 Plymouth Fury. Carpenter takes an (almost) everyday object (it IS a classic) and injects it with pure menace.
The source novel was a lengthy affair that personally never impressed me despite a great effort by King. The novel, despite King taking his time, just never grabbed me, and in the end it came off as just...silly. The car was evil simply because the guy who bought was just such a [jerk] and was just "evil". That extra dimension doesn't really make its way into the film, despite a great little bit by Roberts Blossom as LeBey.
The film, instead, opens with Bad to the Bone on the soundtrack (before that song was beaten sour rotten to death in film and TV) as Christine rolls off a Detroit assembly line. Because we SEE the car--photographed beautifully--we can attach the underlying menace of the book to something striking on screen.
The principles are all good here. Keith Gordon as Arnie Cunningham has the nerd-with-taped-up-glasses bit down perfect. (What's with the black leather vest later?) His friend, played by John Stockwell (who, like Gordon, also directs films now) is Arnie's slightly doofey friend is believable enough as the high school jock. And a future Baywatch gal plays the chief female.
The music is by Carpenter, too, and while not as strong as his other efforts, provides at least one or two really creepy passages with great synths.
The film feels too short, too rushed. The novel goes on and on and establishes strong characters and background story. The film relies heavily on a few great set pieces featuring Christine's bloody night drives. (The death of Moochie is a classic sequence, starting with the faint notes of "Harlem Nocturne" before the chase.) Arnie seems to snap almost overnight, and the background characters are too faint.
The 3 stars is for the film overall. But I'd turn it up to 4 for King and Carpenter fans. There are plenty of memorable moments here, and you'll never see a tailfinned car again the same way.