I've said it before and I'll say it again, any film maker who takes on the challenge of trying to bring a Stephen King book to the big screen is going to have his work well and truly cut of for him to attempt to condense all the history and details Mr King crams into his novels, in a watchable format. To his credit, the director John Carpenter does pretty darn well here and makes a very worthwhile effort.
The problem I have with Christine is that it was never the best of Stephen King's books to start with and I've never found the idea of a possessed car that sinister, ok it's no dafter than a possessed dog or cat, but there's just something that little bit to cumbersome about the idea of having a car commit murders.
Arnie Cunningham is the typical high school geek, skinny and with glasses he's the ideal target for the mean school bullies and it's good news for him that the high school football jock her, Dennis Guilder, is Arnie's best friend.
Arnie, in an attempt to break free from his mother's very tight apron strings, buys a beaten up wreak of a car from a dodgy looking character called George LeBay. The car in question is a red and white 1958 Plymouth Fury which we learn from Mr LeBay belonged to his brother, until his brother ran a pipe from the exhaust and killed himself.
Arnie buys the car and sets to work renovating it although as much work Arnie puts in the car seems to be helping him along by regenerating itself. When the car is finished it's a sight to behold, a classic piece of American Automobile, it's no wonder that behind the wheel Arnie cuts a different figure and his new found good looks lands him the prettiest girl in the school, Leigh Cabot. But the bullies haven't given up all ideas of keeping Arnie down. They break into the garage where Arnie keeps the car and smash it to pieces. But when only days later is it more amazing that the car is fully restored again, or that the bullies are picked off one by one, with Arnie's prized car always being near the scene?
As I say, the film is extremely watchable if for nothing else the excellent smashes and scrapes the car gets itself into, and then amazingly out of again. The regeneration sequences are great effects and although some of the action scenes are quite jerky, there are some brilliant iconic images, like the Plymouth cruising down the highway whilst being on fire.
There's nothing really special about the performances although they are all adequately done. Viewers may spot that Keith Gordon (Arnie) also appeared in the pretty awful Combat Academy and John Stockwell (Dennis) turns up as the pilot "Cougar" in Top Gun. Harry Dean Stanton appears for a small role as the cop assigned to investigate the murders.
What I did like about the film though were the extra areas it covered that aren't in the book. The opening sequence showing Christine on the Detroit production line was a nice touch and I loved the ironic radio set with a mind of it's own, managing to not only switch itself on whenever Christine was up to no good, but playing a suitable classic Rock and Roll hit. A great example would be playing Bony Maronie whilst crushing garage owner Will Darnell against the dashboard.