FRED Watch Quickie Film Review: Christine (1983)
CARPENTER, KING… AND CHRISTINE.
I’m a Wayne Stellini and welcome to FRED Watch, where we review everything from the mainstream to the obscure. Today’s film is Christine…
A red and white 1958 Plymouth Fury named Christine becomes increasingly possessive of Arnie Cunningham (Keith Gordon), the awkward youth who purchases her, and whose personality gradually changes as car and owner form a dangerous bond…
Christine has all the hallmarks of what we expect from a Stephen King narrative: a youth takes revenge against their bullies with the aid of a supernatural force (think Carrie). There is also a sympathetic, popular, and handsome boy cheering for our underdog in some way (still think Carrie). This familiarity, of course, does not work against Christine in any way.
And on paper, the bestselling author and Halloween (1978) director John Carpenter make an unconquerable combination to tell a scary story. But this big screen adaptation of King’s novel falls a little short of expectations.
Do not be mistaken, Carpenter is a skilled filmmaker but the first half of the piece, which sets up the dynamics of our young cast at school, home, etc, is far more taut, engaging, and confidently made than what follows. This is a shame because this is where the film should deliver what it promises. And Christine almost makes it! There’s some finely executed thrills and the special effects featuring the car’s rejuvenation are outstanding. But there are some pacing issues and the subtle, tense build-up shifts gear into flashes of melodrama as the plot unfolds.
Christine is by no means a write-off; it is an entertaining and well-produced tale that has a bevy of fine talent who will be familiar to pop culture enthusiasts. Ketih Gordon (Jaws 2) is relatable as bullied protagonist Arnie, John Stockwell (Top Gun) soaks up the screen as best friend Dennis, and Alexandra Paul (TV’s Baywatch) makes a fine impression as new girl Leigh. Supporting players include Robert Prosky (Gremlins 2: The New Batch), Roberts Blossom (Home Alone), Kelly Preston (SpaceCamp, Jerry McGuire), Steven Tash (1984’s Ghostbusters), Stuart Charno (Friday the 13th Part 2), Malcolm Danare (Heaven Help Us, 1998’s Godzilla), and the prolific Harry Dean Stanton (The Godfather Part II, Alien, The Avengers…).
Carpenter’s film is well-worth watching for fans of any of the cast and crew, if not the genre itself, but don’t expect Christine to make it to the finish line in the same pristine condition as it starts. 3½ / 5
Starring: Keith Gordon, John Stockwell, Alexandra Paul, Robert Prosky, Harry Dean Stanton, Christine Belford, Roberts Blossom, Kelly Preston, William Ostrander, Steven Tash, Stuart Charno, Malcolm Danare, David Spielberg.
Director: John Carpenter | Writer: Bill Phillips (based on the novel by Stephen King) | Producers: Richard Kobritz, Larry J. Franco | Music: John Carpenter, Alan Howarth | Cinematographer: Donald M. Morgan | Editor Marion Rothman
Let us know what you thought of this film in the comments!
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