Christine (1983)
June 5, 2022 9:24 PM - Subscribe

John Carpenter directed this adaptation of the Stephen King novel about a nerdy teen who finds a dangerous obsession with a 1958 Plymouth Fury.

Currently streaming in the US on Netflix.
posted by DirtyOldTown (7 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Much better than the book, because the book dates from that period in the eighties when King was really heavily into the cocaine and various other substances and it showed in the books--this one goes from first person to the third person in the middle back to the first person, and has digressions all over the place about how Arnie has a dysfunctional relationship with his parents. The movie gets to the meat of the matter: nerdy kid gets a junker of a "classic" car, and ultimately can't hide the fact that a) the car is restoring itself and b) is running down the school bullies one by one without anyone behind the wheel. Keith Gordon, who eventually left acting to direct, is great in this, and Harry Dean Stanton also gets some good bits.
posted by Halloween Jack at 4:45 AM on June 6, 2022 [2 favorites]

I love this movie. John Carpenter is probably the reason it's better than it needed to be, but everything clicks. I'm sure there must be ironic uses of pop music in cinema prior to this film, but the use of the '50s hits when Christine kills certain people feels a little ahead of its time.

Also, shout out to that "evil car's POV" sequence on the deserted nighttime road, which surely must have inspired the music video for Radiohead's "Karma Police."
posted by DeWalt_Russ at 5:38 AM on June 6, 2022 [3 favorites]

Virtually all of this movie aged extremely well: the judicious choices made of what to keep and what to cut from King's novel, the needle drops, the practical FX (the car reassembling itself is SO GOOD), the music.

The only thing that didn't age well is the mean-spirited horniness of the boys in the first ten minutes. A making of I saw on YouTube indicated that the film's producers really felt it would sell better as an R, and without much gore, they pushed for more swearing to make sure it didn't drift down to a PG. The result is a first section of the film that sounds like it was written by an incel having some kind of medication reaction.

Way better once it settles in.

They had 24 1958 Plymouth Fury cars for this production!

Even seeing this now as a full-grown adult, I feel visceral pain when Buddy Repperton slices open the lunch sack and the yogurt oozes out.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:01 AM on June 6, 2022

the use of the '50s hits when Christine kills certain people feels a little ahead of its time

There's also one of two perfect movie uses of "Bad to the Bone."
(I know, but it was awesome when it was new.)
posted by kirkaracha at 10:29 AM on June 6, 2022

The making of mentions a scene where two guys finish crushing the car and high five, one is the screenwriter and the other is George Thorogood. The scene was cut because they were both terrible actors.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:23 AM on June 6, 2022 [1 favorite]

I seem to be an outlier, but I hated this picture when I saw it in 1983 and I did t like it any better when I saw again it a year ago. It's so damn weak and boring that Bill Phillips, the screenwriter, did rewrites to throw in a punch of gratuitous profanity because the MPAA was going to give it a PG rating, and Phillips and John Carpenter were afraid no one was going to want to see a PG-rated horror movie. They were probably right.
posted by holborne at 11:37 AM on June 6, 2022

I was so excited for this movie when it opened that I went to the theater with my best friends three hours early, to make sure we got a good place in line. After about an hour we realized there wasn't going to be a line. We went off and had Chinese food for dinner, then came back. We were the only ones in the theater.

And we loved that movie! (We had loved the book, loved Harry Dean Stanton, and were in high school...)

(I'm sure it's hardly an original thought, but Christine in the book is so obviously a signifier for cocaine, and she did to Arnie what blow was doing to Steve, driving him and wrecking him at the same time)
posted by chavenet at 2:32 PM on June 8, 2022

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