EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|CHRISTINE (director: John Carpenter; screenwriters: based on the novel by Stephen King/Bill Phillips; cinematographer: Donald M. Morgan; editor: Marion Rothman; music: John Carpenter; cast: Keith Gordon (Arnie Cunningham), John Stockwell (Dennis Guilder), Alexandra Paul (Leigh Cabot), William Ostrander (Buddy), Malcolm Danare (Moochie), Robert Prosky (Will Darnell), Harry Dean Stanton (Rudolph Junkins), Roberts Blossom (Roland Le Bay), Christine Belford (Regina Cunningham), David Spielberg (Mr Casey); Runtime: 111; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Richard Kobritz; Columbia Tri-Star Pictures; 1983)|
|"Slickly made dumb horror flick
about a diabolical car and a nerd transformed into a lady killer."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
John Carpenter ("Halloween"/"Dark Star"/"Assault on Precinct
13") directs this slickly made dumb horror flick
about a diabolical car and a nerd transformed into a lady killer when
he possesses the car and obsesses over it. After a promising start
telling about bullies in high school making life difficult for a nerd,
it stalls out as a cheap thrill revenge of the nerd pic. It's based on
the novel by
Stephen King and is written by Bill Phillips. What scares might have
worked on the written page don't work when transferred to the screen.
In 1958, a shiny red and white Plymouth Fury comes off the
assembly-line in Detroit and one worker is injured and another killed
handling the car. We flash forward to 1978, in the suburban town of
Rockbridge, in Northern California, where the horn-rim sporting
Cunningham (Keith Gordon) is bullied in shop
class by the switch-blade wielding punk named Buddy (William
After surviving a rough first day back to school from his summer
holiday, to start his senior season, Arnie is driven home
by his best friend Dennis Guilder (John
the school's football star. When passing by a run down shack, Arnie
spots a For Sale sign for that same 1958 Plymouth, all battered and
rusted-out, and with love at first sight buys it, even after told by
the new owner Roland Le Bay (Roberts
the car's deadly history, of people dying in it, including the former
owner, Roland's brother, who committed suicide in it and his daughter
who choked to death in it. Arnie's also told the car goes by the name
of Christine. But Arnie's nagging mom (Christine Belford) refuses to let him
keep the car at home, so the kid, desperately seeking independence,
works out a deal with surly local garage owner Will Darnell (Robert Prosky), so that he can
garage the car and restore it on the premises with spare parts from the
junk pile if he does odd jobs around the garage. At the same time Arnie
gets the car, he throws away his glasses and with his new handsome
looks wins over the new coed Leigh Cabot (Alexandra Paul), the school
beauty. But they have a spat, as the car seemingly gets jealous of
Leigh for stealing Arnie away and oldie 1950 rock tunes go on
automatically on the car radio. Leigh gets locked in the car, as she
chokes on the snack she's eating until saved by a stranger.
film is bearable up until this point, but turns ugly and witless and
devoid of dramatics when Buddy and his punk friends destroy the
Plymouth to get even for being punished at school for their attack on
the nerd and then the nerd's revenge on the punks comes about. The car,
if you wish to believe, restores itself and bids Arnie to chase down
the four punks who destroyed the car and with a crazed Arnie behind the
wheel the car kills all the punks brutally.
was aiming for black comedy, the second half of the film has that go up
in flames, turning it instead into just a special effects car wreck pic
that's an unpleasant watch. Ultimately, it just turns out to be another
poor adaptation of a Stephen King horror novel. When it plays 'Boney Moronie'
on the car radio, not only do the passengers suffocate but so does the
discerning viewer who expected something more substantial. It's that
kind of misguided pic, that believes its flashy car act can really put
it over the top.
REVIEWED ON 1/8/2011 GRADE: C
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ