John Carpenter’s 1983 adaptation of a Stephen King novel has aged well. “Christine” is a ’58 Plymouth Fury – a classic car in bad shape – but nerdy teen Arnie (Keith Gordon) thinks he can fix her right up. He just underestimates just how much it will cost him.
The plot is pretty standard fare for King, and events unfold predictably enough. The satisfyingly evil villains meet satisfyingly gruesome ends, and the film is a fairly fun slasher movie when all is said and done.
I was pretty surprised by the strong language – almost every sentence contains an expletive and the c-word is frequently used – but the movie is low on gore and high on suspense.
The film doesn’t clearly explain Christine’s origins, though the book describes the car as possessed by a demonic force. Only just over 3,000 Plymouth Furies were ever made, so the Belvedere and Savoy models were used to make up the many stunt models – though several Plymouth Furies were, sadly, harmed in the making of this film.
John Stockwell and Alexandra Paul lend likeable support as Arnie’s friend and girlfriend. Harry Dean Stanton has a small role as a detective investigating the murders, though Christine’s licence plate should have given him a clue: “CQB” is the acronym for “close quarters battle” – very short range combat where the enemy has little chance of escape.
Christine is not the first time Stephen King had written about murderous vehicles. In 1973 he wrote the story Trucks, which he adapted in 1986 as the comic-horror Maximum Overdrive: the only film King ever directed.