Christine (1983)

Movie adaptations are always hit or miss. Even so some are better than others and so you may be surprised how many great Stephen King adaptations there are. Christine, in this regard, is no exception: John Carpenter’s film is an exceptional thriller experience about a boy and his demonic car.
The plot is simple: geeky 17 y/o Arnie comes into possession a wrecked 1958 Plymouth Fury. With it comes confidence, courage, and a serious attitude adjustment. When I say serious I actually mean that the car, more or less, possesses him, causing him to defend it-literally-to the death all while remaining complicit in its murder spree. His personality takes a complete 360 degree shift from passive aggressive loser to aggressive asshole. So it may be like you when drunk but the special thing is that neither Arnie nor the car is intoxicated. So it is all demonic. Nice.
The ending is the typical close to a horror/thriller: the camera zooms in real close to what is supposed to be either the slain monster or the site of its death, only to, after a brief pause, to show an eerie clip of longevity telling us that the beast is not yet vanquished. That is not what is special. Rather, it is the director’s exquisite choice of music to accompany the murder scenes and the film in general; classical music combines with rock to create an excellent soundtrack which backs up the mise-en-scene.
Indeed, what lasted in my mind about the movie was how well Carpenter depicted the car as a monster-beast incarnate; scenes in which it acts like a predator abound; when it slams itself into others cars and is hooked on their wreckage it pulls out the entire car appearing as though a lion dragging away a wildebeest carcass. Near the end, when it is being crushed by a tractor, the death throws are revealed as an animal being squashed, the headlights acting as eyes, the hood being the spine, and the wheels as feet. The fact that the director was able to convey such a transformation and substitution is remarkable. It is one of the triumphs of the film: the subject is represented in all its glory and infamy.
While it is nothing special in the suspense department, and certainly not a horror film, the atmosphere of mystery and tension is superb. While I am still partial to Misery regarding movies based off Stephen King books, Christine is among the top of the list. Character development, music, acting, and the fine art of filmmaking abound in loads. To miss out would be unadvisable.


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