Remember when you were young and movies where your only friend? Well such is a case in point when it comes to John Carpenter’s “Christine” Now as a rule, and a longstanding one at that, I could never read a Stephen King novel but i could always find time to watch an adaptation of the same, if and when it either came to video as was the thing before the wonders of DVD or if it arrived at the local cinema.
My personal highlights from the Stephen King Oeuvre are “Silver Bullet” if only to see the likes of Gary Busey and Everitt McGill ham it up beyond the call of duty. Stanley Kubrick’s version of “The Shining” complete with a knockout performance from the maestro of barnstorming himself Mr Jack Nicholson, as we already know there have been so many translations from page to screen of everything and anything the king of horror writing has penned some good, some not so good.
However, when it comes to “Christine” it was pitch perfect in every way, shape and form. Directed by John Carpenter, who has been hit and miss down through the years. A wonderful array of golden oldie classics playing throughout the movie itself, a truly wonderful script written by Bill Phillips, containing many a gem which still lingers in the mind even to this day.
Which leads me finally to the actors, casting down to a tee, and as i said ably assisted by a good script, well drawn characters, of course from the mind of Stephen King, but brought to vivid life by the likes of Robert Prosky who appears as the junkyard owner Will Darnell, a true standout in the whole movie. Why even Roberts Blossom, think all the way back to Bob Clarks’s take on Ed Gein “Deranged” the man still lends a sense of deadly menace to his character, even though his role is primarily a cameo role but in fairness quite pivotal in terms of progressing the story.
However, those two being character parts, we need to see the story unfolds. We begin in prologue fashion, as we see upon fade in, superimposed, the year is 1957, We see a car assembly line, all the new cars are being overseen and given the once over by the foreman, from a distance we get our first glance of how beautiful and intoxicating “Christine” the car is to look at.
Of course that illusion is soon shattered when firstly a foreman shatters his hand, then one of the workers decides to take a little rest and relaxation in the front seat, all the while smoking his cigar, when ash from the cigar drops onto the plastic covering, so it begins, and the true nature of “Christine is revealed.
Flash forward to present day and we see Arnie Cunningham the nerdish lead character played with aplomb by Keith Gordon, who would later go on to direct the really excellent “The Chocolate War” as well as many more. However when it comes to acting, Keith Gordon would never better what he had done prior to this or even after.
We have all at one point, either been or have known someone like Arnie Cunningham, perennial book worm, not exactly a ladies man, but when he catches first glimpse of the wreck that will forever alter his very being, It is at that point we see that compulsion leads to obsession when Arnie falls under the spell of that 1958 Plymouth Fury.
Watch as Arnie emerges from his shell, argues with his parents, something that he would never have done or even finds his first and last girlfriend. All this achieved upon the influence and presence of what would appear to be a car, but for teenager Arnie, it represents his first steps towards independence, but underneath the surface of it all we already know the motive and inevitable end.
With wonderful turns by William Ostrader as chief bully Buddy Reperton and Malcolm Danare as Moochie, along with John Stockwell as Arnie’s only friend Dennis and Alexandra Paul long before she donned the lifeguard bikini for Baywatch as Arnie’s suffering girlfriend Lee.
Watch and be amazed, time has not taken it’s toll on John Carpenter’s finest hour.