Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Never Give Your Car A Name

Admittedly I have not read Stephen King's novel, which came out before the movie was released, of course. Its a shame that John Carpenter did not direct more adaptions of his novels, as he worked in horror a lot and he's really a truly talented director. Its no coincidence that the best adaptions of Stephen King's books have been adapted by good and great directors. The opposite could be said for those that were either poor or merely decent. Christine falls into the really good category, and its rather creepy for a killer car movie. In a way the car replaces your standard slasher villain, as the titular vehicle proceeds to go on a fairly sizable killing spree. As revealed in both a early flashback and in a story later on, the car prefers to have blood in its tank as opposed to diesel or premium.

Years after the car claims its first kill before even leaving the lot, it lies rusting in the field of an old man. While driving by, young Arnie sees the car and decides that he's tired of having to get rides from his friend, Dennis. Despite his own friend being wary of the purchase, and even though the old man selling him the car is clearly not telling him the whole story, Arnie doesn't care. He's already possessed by the desire to own this 1958 Plymouth Fury, and he can envision how it will look restored, all red color and cool looking tail fins included. Little does he know that the car will change him as he much as he changes it-and this is not a heart warming story about a teenager who finds responsibility. Unless you include people being run over, or the teen becoming a complete jerk.

By the time the car has been fully restored, Arnie has a girlfriend and an entire new attitude that his best friend and even his family notice. One of the movie's best touches is having Arnie dress up more and more like a 50s greaser as the movie goes on. Considering that the car warps his personality and results in him becoming a different person, having him also change his style of clothing to reflect his obsession with his ride was something unique and adds more to the movie. Despite this film not being particularly scary, its still a tad eerie in terms of how the viewer witnesses not just a teen completely taken over by a vehicle, but also that the vehicle and the teen both reflect each other's personalities.

Really though the car kills mostly for Arnie, acting at times like any jealous or scorned woman. Thugs decide to trash the car? They all suffer horrifying deaths as a result. In one suspenseful moment Christine even tries to get rid of Arnie's girlfriend, Leigh, after she unwisely speaks ill of Arnie's ride. How the film ends may not be surprising to readers of the book, and it does have a fantastic final shot. Considering other lesser killer car movies over the years (interestingly enough Stephen King directed the adaption of his other killer vehicle book, Maximum Overdrive, which was a hilariously entertaining bad movie), this one is probably the best of the whole lot.

PS: One last final thought: there is a scene where Christine pursues a man while on fire, and while watching it I realized that such a scene reminds me somewhat of the famous Radiohead video for their song Karma Police. I wonder if Christine is where the video's director got the idea from.

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