28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
"Christine" is about possession. In adapting Steven King's novel to the screen, director John Carpenter and writer Bill Phillips streamline King's narrative to focus on the true star of the book and film--the car itself. "Christine" tells the story about a nerdy high school senior (Keith Gordon in a very strong performance)who can't do anything right but his best friend college jock Dennis(John Stockwell)seems to do everything right. So when Arnie finds the perfect car that he can rebuild and put his love into, the car nicknamed "Christine" by its former deceased owner more than returns that love--she gives Arnie a thug makeover and turns him into a monster as bad as the the kids that used to beat Arnie up. Needless to say, Christine has some special abilities of her own and she becomes--so to speak--the vehicle for Archie's revenge and vice versa.
Dennis tries to intervene but once Arnie becomes possessed by Christine, he and Arnie's new girlfriend Leigh (the lovely Alexandra Paul in her first film role)are unable to reach him. A local police detective (Harry Dean Stanton)becomes suspcious but isn't able to prove that Arnie had anything to do with a mounting body count consisting of high school students from Arnie's school.
The beautiful transfer here manages to skip many of the flaws that have become a Columbia Tristar trademark; the edge enhancement is minimal and the sharp, detailed picture has vivid rich color recalling the original look of the theatrical cut of the film. The high definition transfer is as sharp as a rebuild car after a top notch paint job.
Duplicating the wonderful format that director John Carpenter has used on "The Thing", "Big Trouble in Little China" and "Escape from New York", the audio commentary features both the director and star Keith Gordon (now a director himself) discussing the nuts and bolts of making the film. Gordon provides a unique perspective as both the film's star and also an acclaimed director of small, independent films.
While I also like King's books, I'd like to point out that to make a feature film of a novel would take (as writer Bill Phillips astutely points out in the special features section)20 hours or more so novels have to be streamlined in the hopes of capturing the feel of the film. It's hoped that the visul style brought to the film will make up for the narrative threads that are lost and Carpenter's film does just that. While LeFey the previous owner of Christine played a major role in the book, it seemed as if he was the one driving the action. Carpenter and Phillips decided that Christine was just born bad and that evil spilled out to possess their owners as well. I found Carpenter and Phillips choices in turning the novel into a film to be very good ones.
Laurent Bouzereau's three excellent featurettes focus on the conception of the film all the way through the production and release. Oddly enough, though, Columbia has them listed out of order under the special features section starting with "Christine Fast & Furious", "Christine Finish Line" and "Christine Ignition" presented in that order. You should really watch the last one first, the first one second and the second one last. Of course, you can click on them in any order (they play individually)but it does seem a curious choice to present them this way. We also get 20 deleted/alternate scenes that provide an interesting addition to the original film. While Carpenter wisely chose to cut some of them, a small portion of the deleted scenes would have made a great addition to a "Director's Cut" of this film. Since Carpenter is technically "retired" (as he jokingly points out in his commentary), he certainly could spent the time to reintegrate key scenes. Unfortunately, it's doubtful that this special edition had the budget for such an undertaking. Regardless, I'm happy that Columbia Tristar elected to put out this special edition in the first place.
We also get the usual Columbia Tristar previews as well. This special edition provides a classic Carpenter film a second change on DVD. While the film was critically well received (Time called it "Carpenter's best film since 'Halloween')for the most part (many criticized the foul language. Writer Bill Phillips discusses how Columbia's executives asked him to add more foul language so the film could earn a hard "R" rating. He laughes as he recalls that "Scarface" would soon replace "Christine" with the most foul lanugage in a two hour movie), it only did fair box office business. It's nice to see this classic bit of Carpenter-King-Phillips entertainment finally the way it should be presented.
25 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on February 7, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
Stephen King's novels have formed the basis for a great many horror films over the last quarter century. Some have been superlative (CARRIE, THE SHINING), others just terrible (PET SEMATARY, MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE). CHRISTINE can be counted among the superlative ones. Under the expert hands of HALLOWEEN director John Carpenter, this film provides the requisite chills and atmosphere minus a lot of unnecessary blood and gore.
Keith Gordon stars as a geeky high school student named Arnie Cunningham who is always getting picked upon by the local school bullies (sound familiar?). But when he eyes a rusted old 1957 Plymouth Fury, his life really turns around. Over the objections of his best friend (John Stockwell), he fixes it up at a local garage (run by a salty-tongued Robert Prosky) to a point where the car is as good as new. Gordon even starts up a relationship with the high school dream queen (Alexandra Paul). There's just one problem, though. Christine won't let it go that far.
For this '57 Fury is definitely possessed, and pretty soon it takes possession of Gordon. When the school bullies retaliate against Gordon by trashing Christine, the car repairs itself and goes after the perpetrators one by one. But the car also reacts in a jealous and homicidal way against Paul, who nearly chokes on a hamburger at a drive-in with Gordon. And when Paul and Stockwell come to realize that Gordon is indeed totally over the edge, they plot to destroy the car, using a bulldozer inside Prosky's garage. Unfortunately, Gordon dies in the final melee. And although Christine itself seems to be crushed to a metal cube, in the tag end scene, a metal piece can be seen repairing itself...
Although the setting of the film is changed from King's novel (there, it was western Pennsylvania; in the film, it's southern California), CHRISTINE for the most part stays true to the basic essentials of the book in its depiction of high school bullies and teenage life during 1978-79, which is the era depicted. There is a certain appropriateness to having Christine's radio play nothing but early rock and roll records, like Little Richard's "Keep A Knockin'", and Thurston Harris' "Little Bitty Pretty One", while most of the other songs are of the late 70s ("Runaway" by Bonnie Raitt, "Bad To The Bone" by George Thorogood and the Delaware Destroyers).
Carpenter makes sure that the emphasis on the movie is on the situations in Gordon's life that lead him to Christine, and how letting his life get totally dominated by that car eventually scares the living daylights out of Stockwell and Paul. Furthermore, he does this in the same suspenseful fashion that made HALLOWEEN work to such a tee. His and Alan Howarth's synthesizer-dominated music score lends further atmosphere to the proceedings. Some may complain about the slight excess of profanity in the screenplay, but it is typical of King's work and appropriate in the way it depicts teenage behavior.
CHRISTINE does, as many point out, bear a resemblance to the much underrated (or much maligned) 1977 thriller THE CAR. But it is unique in its own way. And for those seeking something more than mad slashers and buckets of blood, CHRISTINE is well worth watching.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on March 12, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
I actually read the book first which made me expect more out of the movie, oh well. The movie, however, is still worth the 5 stars I've given it because John Carpenter directed the movie and it turned out excellent, the special effects are awesome, AND that the story itself is by Stephen King. Now anybody who has read the book knows what the movie is basically about, but for those who haven't ventured this way, let me elaborate. The key characters are Christine herself (keep in mind she's a car), Arnie Cunningham, who falls in love with Christine, and Dennis Guilder, who is a friend of Arnie but an enemy of Christine. Arnie falls in love with Christine and buys her from George LeBay (Roland LeBay in the book, George is the brother), who is an eccentric old man. Arnie fixes her up to almost brand new, but all the other characters (Dennis, Arnie's parents, Leah Cabot) have this disturbing sense that Christine is more than what she appears to be. Turns out they're right when Christine slowly changes Arnie's personality from nerd to suave psycho. There's more to tell, but I don't want to give the movie away! The special effects where Christine rebuilds herself after each bashing is astounding! I'm still trying to figure out HOW did they do that. After seeing this you might think about the car you have. There is a lot of explicit language so this wouldn't be for those who are under age. An excellent car movie, but don't read the book first!
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on March 8, 2010
This is really a love story but since it's based on a book by Stephen King you aleady know that the love is dark and dangerous. In every high school there are couple of kids who are treated badly by the tribe. Arnie Cunningham is a sweet, smart kid but the local bullies are making his life hell. He has two things going for him: his imagination and his best friend, Dennis, a genuinely nice kid who is on the football team and protects him. Arnie finds a Plymouth Fury and falls in love. The car's name is Christine and she's alive. No reason why, she just is. She talks to Arnie telepathicaly and through her radio. When she plays Johnny Ace's Pedging My Love and Arnie sighs and lays his head on her steering wheel the two are irrevocably wedded. The actor's voice changes whenver he's speaking to Christine, it becomes soft and affectionate. Her music, when they are alone is a playlist of love songs. It's and intense relationship.
Arnie gives Christine his life, she gives devotion, protection and one heck of a makeover. His skin improves and he no longer needs his glassses. He goes from looking like a hopeless geek to a combination of James Dean and Marlon Brando in THe Wild Ones. He attracts and takes for himselt the queen of the school, Leah. The actress playing Leah is not very good. She says her lines and that's about all I can say for her. Frankly, nobody's acting, except for Keith Gordon as Arnie, is very good. Acting is not what makes this movie. The relationsip, the building suspense that exlodes into terror, the music both soundtrack and John Carpenter's score make the movie and does it fairly well.
Christine tolerates Leah for one hot minute but when it looks like Arnie's affection for her is getting too strong the car causes her to almost choke to death. She also settles some scores with the local punks. Anybody who crossed Arnie is getting burnt, squished, crushed and turned into roadkill. Finally Dennis and Leah try to pull Arnie from Christine's spell and end the killing. They succeed, sort of. Other than the poor acting of the supporting cast, there are a few nitpicks. The leader of the bullies looks about 30, what the heck is he doing in highschool? The ending is too far from what was in the book and is too weak. The detective focuses on Arnie but has nothing to make his investigation legal. This isn't a great movie. It's a darkened basement TV movie and that's okay. I had fun with it.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on March 17, 2004
This is "John Capenter's" Christine--not Stephen King's Christine. The film takes the basic idea of the film much the same way Kubrick took the basic idea of the Shining and made it his own. While the book is better--a book is a book and a film is a film. There was no way at the time that John Carpenter could've staged the scenes with Christine back in 1983. Even now the budget would be huge. I'm speaking of Darnell's death and the death of Buddy out on the icy roads. John Carpenter may not be fond of this film but he should be--it's one of his last films that looked and felt like a "John Carpenter film." The cinematography is fantastic, the music is classic Carpenter music, and it's pretty well acted. It may not be the most frightening King adaptation but it's one of the best directed (technically) and one of the best photographed. All in all it's one of Carpenter's best; after all it is his version of the book. Changes aside, it's well worth the viewing considering the mindless, no-talent crap that passes for horror these days at the cinema.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on September 2, 2010
Here there be spoilers.
Stephen King's 1983 novel "Christine" was adapted to film and released in the same year. Placed in the hands of the brilliant John Carpenter with a budget of $9,700,000, the result was ultimately the best adaptation of a book to film I've yet seen, and one of my favorite movies of all time. There are few better ways, in a movie theater at least, to spend 110 minutes of your life.
I won't carry on long about the differences between the standard DVD and this special edition, but I always buy the special edition of a film I like. Some have little in the way of extras, but I found "Christine" did not leave me wanting in terms of additional content, either. The list of cut scenes is enjoyable to watch, much as the film itself, and it's always fun to find out how a film like this was made.
"Christine" has an opening that gets attention right away. A car motor, no doubt a powerful one, starts up, revs to a roar a few times, then idles and shuts off as the preliminary credits roll. We then witness a scene on a Detroit assembly line in 1957, in which George Thorogood's "Bad To the Bone" is brilliantly chosen as the background song and Christine herself, the only red Plymouth on the line, claims her first victim. See, while it is implied in the book that Roland LeBay's 1958 Plymouth Fury was simply a custom Plymouth early on, this made-to-order '58 Fury is bad right from the very beginning in the film.
We soon meet Dennis Guilder and Arnold Cunningham, who have been good friends for years. After a scuffle in auto shop class that is broken up by the brilliantly-played Mr. Casey, the two are soon heading home when they pass by- we don't see what at first. But whatever it is, it grabs Arnie's attention right away, and he demands Dennis go back. Within moments Arnie is running his hands across the bodywork of a rusted but somehow familiar Plymouth, which appears to have been quitely decaying for not just decades but centuries (if that were possible) in a rather unkempt front yard. Dennis is unimpressed, and can hardly believe it when Arnie jumps right up and buys the car from the late owner's brother, George LeBay. See, ol' George must have gotten along with his brother Roland a whole lot better in the film, since he talks of the car much as Roland did. Dennis' attempts to dissuade Arnie fail, as do those of his domineering parents. Their refusal to allow the barely running Plymouth in their driveway introduces us to the cheery and personable Will Darnell, owner of a local junkyard and garage, who after a rant over the car's horrible exhaust allows Arnie to keep the car there.
The acting in this film is as good as you could ask for. Keith Gordon and John Stockwell perform superbly as Arnold Cunningham and Dennis Guilder respectively. To name all of the actors who I believe did their jobs well would result in me naming the entire cast, one by one. But my favorites beyond the lead cast were Robert Prosky (Darnell), Roberts Blossom "George LeBay", and Harry Dean Staunton as "Rudolph Junkins".
Witnessing Arnie's transformation from a downtrodden nerd to a hard-eyed, lean fella who nobody crosses is really something, and the film portrays all this very well. People step forward and attempt to harm Arnie, or worse, attempt to harm Christine, and all who make any transgressions suffer terribly. The scene in which Christine rebuilds herself before Arnie's eyes is one of the most brilliantly done moments in film I have yet to witness. This was before the kind of special effects and CGI we take for granted today. In 1983, John Caprenter mounted devices all over one of the Plymouths used to portray Christine and overall destroyed the car, then played all the footage backwards. Genius. The scenes in which Christine takes revenge on those foolish enough to cross her are some of the most gripping in the film, made all the better by the wonderfully-done soundtrack. I very much enjoyed the moment where the unfortunate Moochie Welch sees a rebuilt Christine idling, and calls out to Arnie, who he assumes is inside. "Hey, you ain't mad, are you?" Oh, I don't know about Arnie... but Christine is more than just mad. Considering she forces herself up a narrow loading dock and rams Moochie so hard paint is embedded in his bones (as Junkins tells us later) I'd say Christine a lot more than just mad.
Consider, also, the amount of time Christine takes in running down her victims. The boys responsible for beating her up in the garage one night suffer most grieviously, and in each case she takes far longer to get rid of them than she'd really have to. But unlike many films where the villian foolishly takes extra time with getting rid of an enemy, Christine simply draws it out, takes her time, but never once fails to get her revenge.
Tensions mount in the Cunningham household as one could expect, and Dennis and Arnie's ex-girlfriend Leigh destroy her in Darnell's garage in a dramatic duel to the death between the regenerating 1958 Fury and a bulldozer. Christine's liking for classic 50's music I very much enjoyed, and even as the bulldozer runs her down she's blasting "Rock and Roll is Here to Stay" and struggling to get loose.
The ending of the film is superbly done. I know I must sound dreadfully repetetive in so widely praising the film, but it's true. I have few if any complaints at all, none very significant. Anyway, the end of the film shows Dennis, Leigh and Detective Junkins looking at the crushed cube that used to be Christine, lamenting Arnie's demise during the battle in the garage. "Some things can't be helped. Some people, too." Junkins notes. Just then, we hear rock and roll playing, seeming to come from the remains of Christine. The look on the three people's faces, and the look on the face of the construction worker who has the radio on his shoulder as he walks by, is priceless. "I hate rock and roll." Leigh hisses.
Soon, the three turn to leave, and the camera zooms in on the ruined, crushed remains of the evil Plymouth. A piece, possibly of the grille, bends ever so slightly back and forth.
As if a car like Christine could be stopped so easily.
Cut to "Bad to the Bone" and the credits. Very nicely done.
"Christine" is adapted from book to film with a kind of skill and respect for the original work that I have yet to see surpassed. To fully adapt the book to film would result in a work lasting over four hours, and Carpenter clearly recognized that. Yet in many cases, I have been inclined to howl over the carelesness with which a director changed the work from one form to another. Not here. I regret the omission of so many subplots and details, but ultimately the final work is so good that I enjoyed it about as much as I did the book itself. "Christine" is a movie that I could not only like but love even if I had never read the book it is adapted from, nor ever heard of that most excellent writer, Stephen King. The movie can be appreciated from all angles: as a masterful adaption of written to visual form, as a John Carpenter-directed film, as a Stephen King movie, and simply as a stand-alone film. I cannot think of a time when I have enjoyed going to see a movie more. Among Stephen King film adaptations and among films in general, for me at least, "Christine" is as good as it gets.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 9, 2005
The Christine: Special Edition DVD was released in Region 4 back in April and my review is on that. According to reports, it is identical to the Special Edition to be released in US this August.
I had not seen Christine since 1983, and remembered it being quite patchy and reasonably scary. However, being a John Carpenter fan, I figured I would add it to my DVD collection (plus it was a good price).
Seeing Christine again over 20 years later was interesting, but I still feel the film just loses my interest from about 3/4 into the film. The storyline is far from Steven King's best works. The acting is okay, but there is just something missing from this film to lift it to 'cult classic' in my opinion.
The Special Edition DVD transfer is acceptable for its age, not a lot of restoration has gone into it. There are many scenes which look soft and a few that are out of focus. The best news is that you get the original 2:35 widescreen ratio.
Features wise, three very short featurettes have been filmed especially for the DVD release. The main one includes interviews with most of the cast, including the geek. There are also trailers for other movies.
Is it worth buying? Only if you are a John Carpenter fan. Otherwise my advice is to rent it first and decide if you need it.
18 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on June 2, 2004
Director: John Carpenter
Cast: Keith Gordon, John Stockwell, Alexandra Paul, Robert Prosky, Harry Dean Stanton.
Running Time: 110 minutes.
Rated R for violence and language; not nearly as graphic as it could be--a Carpenter trait.
Based on Stephen King's highly popular bestselling novel, "Christine" is perhaps director John Carpenter's second best film (behind "Halloween", obviously) and a sure-fire treat for all those who enjoy King adaptations, Carpenter created films, or just good ol' fashioned suspense. The film centers around a demonically possessed 1958 Plymouth Fury with a strange history--the workers who completed the construction of the car were mysteriously killed and the initial owner of the vehicle took his own life after his wife suddenly died.
Keith Gordon stars as Archie Cunningham, a classic geek in high school who wears nerdy frames and eats packed yogurt for lunch. He is the butt of many jokes, but jock star Ryan Stockwell is still his best buddy. After school one day, Archie comes across Christine, the devilish car. He fixes her up and proceeds to become obsessed by her. A new-found confidence prompts Arnie to ask the cutest girl in the school (Alexandra Paul) out for a date and they quickly fall in love--but Christine does not approve. The car demands Arnie's complete and unquestioned devotion and when outsiders seek to interfere, they become the victim's of Christine's horrifying wrath.
A superb performance from Gordon in the lead role, transforming himself from a laughing stock class dork to an arrogant, obscene maniac who gets so comsumed with Christine that will be anything to preserve the safety of the car. Excellent script from Bill Phillips, unraveling the King masterpiece with a quick deliberance that keeps the audience on the edge of their toes and waiting for Christine's next move. Outstanding direction and musical score creation by Carpenter, using specific lighting arrangements and camera angles to add to the suspense, all the while producing a terrifying musical accompanyment. Even though it is not overly terryfying with sudden jolts of scares, "Christine" is horror/suspense at its very best and a hidden gem of the thriller genre. One of the best, most unheralded horror films of the early part of the decade.
11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on April 4, 2013
Following the lackluster box-office returns of "The Thing" in 1982, director John Carpenter set his sights on an adaptation of Stephen King's bestseller CHRISTINE for a Christmas `83 release. While the film is structurally flawed - and just barely outperformed the disappointing box-office receipts of "The Thing" - it's a movie that nevertheless contains some of his best work, thanks to a reliance on character instead of gory horror.
Carpenter and screenwriter Bill Phillips made mostly sound decisions in reworking King's novel for the screen, stripping out some of the more overtly supernatural elements and focusing on the relationship between its central characters: a high school nerd named Arnie (Keith Gordon) and his more popular, football-playing best friend Dennis (John Stockwell) in the late `70s. The perpetually bullied Arnie is teased by a ruthless clan of thugs but soon finds an outlet to escape his social status: a red 1958 Plymouth Fury that he buys from a shady salvage dealer (Roberts Blossom). Arnie sees in "Christine" the potential for a sleek cruising vessel that allows him to flee from his high school existence as well as his overly-concerned parents; Dennis, on the other hand, has grave concerns about his best friend's decision, but the connection between the possessed auto and its new owner has already been established. Soon Arnie's geek days are behind him as he snags the new girl in class (Alexandra Paul) and finds his rebirth is perpetually tied to the seemingly "alive" car he's rescued off the scrap heap.
"Christine" received some criticism from horror fans over the fact that it's not especially scary - but given the central premise of King's novel, it's hard to imagine what more Carpenter and Phillips could've done to make a "killer car" movie more terrifying. Individual shots of Christine, literally on fire, driving down a lonely highway in pursuit of one of the thugs who bullied Arnie earlier in the film are evocative, but the attempt to create and sustain a more psychological form of terror - through Arnie's personality shifting - was a laudable one on the part of the filmmakers. "Christine" takes its time - nearly 40 minutes - establishing the relationship between Arnie and Dennis, as well as setting the overall scene. These sequences are some of the most satisfying in Carpenter's entire body of work, with both Gordon and Stockwell coming across as likeable, believable characters.
The movie's main weakness is clearly its second act, as Arnie's switch from hapless nerd to confident ladies man happens without a moment's notice. His relationship with Paul's heroine, Leigh, occurs completely off-screen - a severe miscalculation that serves as the largest misstep in Phillips' script, since without that component, it's hard to believe his overnight shift in confidence, or how it's tied into Christine itself. The movie also veers away from seeing the film through the prism of Dennis, who's sidelined with a serious football injury, and the change in perspective likewise curtails the movie's dramatic momentum. It's unfortunate the mid-section of the picture stumbles, because the latter portion of the movie mostly delivers the goods with Carpenter doing what he can to make Christine's killing spree effective, while the presence of veteran character actors like Robert Prosky, Roberts Blossom and Harry Dean Stanton (even if he's mostly underutilized as a detective) add to the entertainment value.
"Christine" may not be a great movie on balance - it's ultimately two-thirds of a really solid genre exercise - but it has its moments, and once you're aware of its shortcomings, repeat viewing makes it easier to appreciate the elements in it that do work well. In a career filled with a couple of classics ("Halloween" and "The Thing"), cult favorites and more than a few missed opportunities, it's also one of Carpenter's more low-key thrillers, reliant less on gore (the film is R-rated for excessive profanity as opposed to on-screen violence) and with more of an accent on the people affected by its horrors than the vehicle itself.
Announced as one of Twilight Time's March limited-edition Blu-Ray releases, "Christine" sold out in a matter of hours once its pre-order went live on the Screen Archives website. The prior bestseller for Twilight Time was "Fright Night" - clearly, there's something to be said for the continued popularity of `80s genre films as "Christine" was snapped up in a jiffy by eager fans. If you're looking for a copy now, the secondary market is your only option, and prices currently run from $100 and up (barring an overseas, region-free release, it's likely its value may only increase as copies become scarcer).
The 1080p AVC encoded transfer licensed from Sony is hugely satisfying, enhancing the work of Carpenter and cinematographer Donald M. Morgan, which is marked by Carpenter's trademark use of Panavision widescreen. The DTS MA 5.1 audio is potent as well, delivering a score filled with period rock tunes and one of the more unobtrusive Carpenter/Alan Howarth collaborations (there's hardly any of their underscore at all in the first hour). Extras are carried over from the Special Edition DVD, including Laurent Bouzereau's insightful three-part documentary, nearly 30 minutes of deleted scenes (none of which would've really helped the movie's middle section), and a fun commentary with Carpenter and Keith Gordon. For folks lucky enough to find a copy, this is a splendid Blu-Ray presentation all around, capped by an isolated score track of Carpenter and Howarth's musical contribution.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on July 29, 2002
Christine, John Carpenter's version of the Stephen King book, doesn't add up despite some great elements. But after having read the novel I don't think there was much else he could do.
This movie has at least one or two unforgettable scenes centering around the 58 Plymouth Fury. Carpenter takes an (almost) everyday object (it IS a classic) and injects it with pure menace.
The source novel was a lengthy affair that personally never impressed me despite a great effort by King. The novel, despite King taking his time, just never grabbed me, and in the end it came off as just...silly. The car was evil simply because the guy who bought was just such a [jerk] and was just "evil". That extra dimension doesn't really make its way into the film, despite a great little bit by Roberts Blossom as LeBey.
The film, instead, opens with Bad to the Bone on the soundtrack (before that song was beaten sour rotten to death in film and TV) as Christine rolls off a Detroit assembly line. Because we SEE the car--photographed beautifully--we can attach the underlying menace of the book to something striking on screen.
The principles are all good here. Keith Gordon as Arnie Cunningham has the nerd-with-taped-up-glasses bit down perfect. (What's with the black leather vest later?) His friend, played by John Stockwell (who, like Gordon, also directs films now) is Arnie's slightly doofey friend is believable enough as the high school jock. And a future Baywatch gal plays the chief female.
The music is by Carpenter, too, and while not as strong as his other efforts, provides at least one or two really creepy passages with great synths.
The film feels too short, too rushed. The novel goes on and on and establishes strong characters and background story. The film relies heavily on a few great set pieces featuring Christine's bloody night drives. (The death of Moochie is a classic sequence, starting with the faint notes of "Harlem Nocturne" before the chase.) Arnie seems to snap almost overnight, and the background characters are too faint.
The 3 stars is for the film overall. But I'd turn it up to 4 for King and Carpenter fans. There are plenty of memorable moments here, and you'll never see a tailfinned car again the same way.