I love John Carpenter movies, and it has been forever since I sat down to watch this one.
It’s 1978, and Arnie Cunningham (Keith Gordon) is a bit of a nerd and a joke, his only friend Dennis (John Stockwell) is willing to stand by him no matter what. His loyalty is put to the test when his friend is set on buying a rusted out hunk of steel that was once a 1958 Plymouth Fury. Buying it for a pittance, Arnie throws himself into restoring the car, driven by an undefinable need.
As the car begins to improve and change, so does Arnie. He sheds his glasses, argues more with his parents, and begins to dress and resemble a 50s era tough, his choices in clothes and color perfectly complimenting the Fury whose name is Christine.
Dennis, and Arnie’s new girlfriend, Leigh (Alexandra Paul), the hot new girl in school, are worried about their Arnie, and begin to suspect that something terrible is going on, especially when some of the local bullies, who had made Arnie, and Christine the target of their malice begin to die. Local detective, Rudolph Junkins (Harry Dean Stanton), begins to see Arnie as his prime suspect, and Christine as the murder weapon… he’s half right.
Carpenter films, for me, are always a delight, and this one is no different, I love how he has put this one together, and watching Christine reform after being trashed and crashed is eerie and frightening. Even knowing how it was done makes me appreciate it all the more. Then, she begins to take her revenge on those who put her in that condition, and it goes to show you how villainous and evil this car can be. My favorite sequence has her completely aflame and stalking down one of the bullies as he runs down the road, eventually running him down, and leaving his flaming corpse behind in the night… Awesome.
And a Carpenter film wouldn’t be a Carpenter film if we didn’t talk about the music. He created the score alongside long time associate Alan Howarth, and the source music is a lot of classic rock and roll. Much like John Williams’ Jaws theme tells you the shark is around, anytime you hear a classic 50s tune, you know the possessed car is up to no good, and every song it plays actually conveys what the car is thinking or feeling.
It finally falls to Dennis and Leigh to try to save their friend, and put a stop to Christine once and for all.
I`m a fan of the original novel by Stephen King, but I can also respect and enjoy this film as its own creation, and honestly, and any film that has Carpenter`s name attached to it is bound to get a fair shake from me. I think I may have to go watch something else he`s done right away…
And there are so many to choose from, I’m kind of leaning towards Prince of Darkness, or perhaps In the Mouth of Madness…
How about you? What is your favorite John Carpenter film? As we know, his work with Kurt Russell tends to be my favorite of his efforts, but I really do like everything he’s done.