CHRISTINE directed by John Carpenter (USA, 1993)
“I hate Rock’n’Roll!” A good pub quiz question would be to name the movie of a Stephen King novel that ends with this statement.
Here it is in ‘Christine’ a mix of high school melodrama and sub-par horror.
The line is spoken by the movie’s human romantic interest, Leigh Cabot (Alexandra Paul) as she mistakes music from the ghetto blaster of a passing scrapyard worker for the car radio of the now crushed and cubed 1958 Plymouth Fury named Christine.
This car’s theme tune is George Thorogood and the Destroyers’ ‘Bad To The Bone’ and its identity is also defined by a series of rock classics. Bored to the bone would be more accurate.
Not only is the vehicle indestructible but she (it?) also has a life of its own and a disturbing habit of killing or maiming those it takes a dislike to. She also has the unexplained ability to turn its latest owner Arnie Cunningham (Keith Gordon) from a nerd to a stud. This transformation enables him to win the heart of the aforementioned Leigh who is meant to be smart and hot but is played so woodenly it’s hard to see what the fuss is about.
Arnie also uses the car as a vehicle (pun intended) to escape his nagging parents and turn the tables on a group of bullies. The drawback is that Christine demands total devotion so Arnie’s heightened status means selling his soul to the machine turned monster.
Lame effects make a silly story even sillier. Harry Dean Stanton as Detective Rudy Junkins is the only actor of note and even he seems to be going through the motions.
As a splatter movie it would have been scarier but instead Carpenter sanitizes the violence for a mainstream audience. I ceased caring how it might end long before the final showdown between the possessed car and industrial digger.
The final image (It lives!) hints at a sequel that, mercifully, has never materialized.