This isn’t quite the film I remember. The last time, before re-watching it for the purpose of this review, was probably around twenty years ago. As a kid this film wasn’t frightening, but still had enough chills for me to remember that sweet-ass, red, 58′ Plymouth Fury. I am by no means a “car guy”, I just enough to not feel completely helpless. But Christine is one very nice ride, which is why it’s sad that only two of the twenty cars used survive. As little as I remembered about the movie, I remember less about the novel. Other than one or two glaring differences, both of which I agree with John Carpenters decision in changing them. Yea, that’s right, John Carpenter directed this. Although even he’ll tell you he just did it for the paycheck and sadly it shows.
Christine opens with Christine rolling along the assembly line, the only red model in a sea of Beige. The film opening makes it very clear that this car is evil right for the get go, as she mangles one mans hand and kills another before she even leaves the line. Twenty years later Arnold Cunningham (Keith Gordon), a social outcast with one friend, Dennis Guilder (John Stockwell) who is probably too cool to be friends with Arnold. But, suspension of disbelief and all. On their way home after a terrible first day of Senior year, where Arnold got bullied hardcore by a group of roughnecks lead by Buddy (William Ostrander), Arnold has Dennis stop and go back. Arnold has spotted Christine, heavily worn, neglected and in bad need of major repair for sale. Arnold buys the car against Dennis’s attempts to convince him otherwise. Arnold’s parents, in particular his mother, hate the car. They get in a heated fight over it with Arnold, resulting in Arnold walking out and creating a schism between them that will never be mended. He begins repair Christine at Darnell’s Do-It Yourself Garage. Using parts salvaged from Darnell’s scrap-yard. At school Dennis makes the moves on the hot new girl Leigh Cabot (Alexandra Paul), only to learn that she’s already seeing someone. At his football game Dennis notice Arnold arrive with Leigh as a couple, as well as Christine having been restored to her prime glory. Due to the distraction Dennis takes a heavy hit that nearly paralyzes him. Arnold begins to obsess over Christine more and more, even after Leigh nearly chokes to death while at the drive in with him. With Christine locking Arnold out so that he wouldn’t be able to save her. Things get worse after the hoodlums that made Arnold’s first day so crappy, break into Darnell’s and destroy Christine. This results in Arnold start repairing her again, but Christine regenerates herself and goes on a killing spree. Targeting those that threaten Arnold, her, or their relationship, this includes Leigh. Buy the time New Years Eve rolls around, Arnold is under the complete thrall of Christine, along with a murder investigation and Dennis knows it. Dennis and Leigh conspire to destroy Christine and save Arnold, before it’s too late..
Damn they packed a lot into this film, because I left out rather sizable chunks. But mostly I just didn’t talk about Arnold’s slow change. Sure, there is the initial fixation, where he see’s Christine, must have her, all the way though fighting with his parents over her. Which seems like a calm, sane man were placed beside the obsessed sociopath he eventually degrades into. I like the that shift isn’t sudden and that it takes time.
Over all the acting is ok, it’s one of the better Stephen King adaptations. But mostly it’s due to the car, who is awesome. Christine is crazy from start to finish. The scenes where she regenerates are shot amazingly and I’m very happy that John Carpenter decided to film those. As initially the regeneration scenes were never supposed to be filmed. I like that she has a personality, speaking through songs on the radio is an excellent touch and she positively drips with jealousy.
So why yes it is good, it’s not great. Some of the death scenes are laughable and most of the characters come off one dimensional. With Christine being the only exemption. The film is never scary, so it offers nothing in the way of frights and often tries a bit to hard.
Final thoughts, again it’s just ok. Being one of the better adaptations, doesn’t mean a whole lot sadly. At least so far as the adaptations of Stephen King go. That said out of all the swings and misses. Christine is at least a hit, just not a home run. The pacing is good, and the characters are just barely interesting enough to keep you interested. Mainly I would recommend this film to people who enjoy bad, but good films, or fans of Stephen King. But not for the more refined movie viewer. 5/10