Now, I could be mistaken, but I am fairly certain that the first Stephen King book I ever read was Christine. I was probably seven or eight years old, and I believe that the copy belonged to my Dad.
Now, don’t go judging. This was the 1980s and parenting was different. And really, without that early access to Stephen King’s work, I don’t think I’d be the person I am today.
For better or for worse.
Around the same time, actually before I even read the book, I saw the film adaptation, starring Keith Gordon, John Stockwell and Alexandra Paul, and directed by John Carpenter. I remember watching it on VHS at my Dad’s house, and getting hooked by the gorgeous 58 Plymouth Fury. Christine was a car, and she was bad to the bone.
It had been decades since I’d watched the film, but with it being rereleased on Blu-ray by the folks at Sony Pictures, I was happy to give it another viewing, especially to kick off our annual 31 Days of Horror feature. I definitely feel that the movie has managed to stand the test of time, even though it’s not a classic to begin with. All the leads do their jobs very well indeed, especially Gordon, who makes the transition from a defining nerd to possessed bad boy look remarkably easy. There are some genuinely tough moments, as the nerdy Arnie combats parents who don’t want to see him grow up, and who are on the receiving end of his Christine-inspired turn.
For a film about an evil car, Christine is surprisingly subtle. The violence is mainly off-screen, so there’s virtually no gore to be seen (not a bad thing). Carpenter knows a thing or two about capturing the drama inherent in high school, and he does so once again throughout the movie. The one thing that’s missing for me as a viewer though, is Christine’s motivation. I know, I know – I can hear you saying, “Andy, it’s a movie about a possessed car! What do you want?” And you’re not wrong. But having read the book, and vividly recalling the backstory of the car and its previous owner, I did feel like the script simply needed a little more explanation.
The great thing about the new Blu-ray is that there are some explanations for casting and script choices, with a variety of new interviews with cast and crew, including Carpenter himself. These extras are absolutely worth the price of admission, as even a good but not great John Carpenter film is worth watching once or twice.
Order Christine on Blu-ray here.