Christine (1983 film)

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Theatrical release poster
Directed by John Carpenter
Produced by Richard Kobritz
Larry J. Franco
Screenplay by Bill Phillips
Based on Christine by Stephen King
Starring Keith Gordon
John Stockwell
Alexandra Paul
Robert Prosky
Harry Dean Stanton
Music by John Carpenter
Alan Howarth
Cinematography Donald M. Morgan
Editing by Marion Rothman
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates
  • December 9, 1983 (1983-12-09)
Running time 110 min.
Country United States
Language English
Budget $9.7 million
Box office $21,017,849[1]

Christine is a 1983 American horror thriller film directed by John Carpenter and starring Keith Gordon, John Stockwell, Alexandra Paul and Harry Dean Stanton. It was written by Bill Phillips and based on the homonymous novel by Stephen King, published in 1983. The story, set in 1978, follows a sentient and violent automobile named "Christine", and its effects on Christine's teenaged owner.


In 1957 Detroit, several off-white 1958 Plymouth Fury models are shown lined up on an assembly line. In the middle of the line of cars, a lone bright red and white Fury stands. The Plymouth's malevolent character is established when one worker is injured when the car's hood slams shut on his hand while he is working on the car, and another is apparently choked to death inside after dropping some cigar ash onto one of the seats.

21 years later, in the 1978 school season, Arnold "Arnie" Cunningham (Keith Gordon) is a nerdy teen boy with only one friend, a childhood companion named Dennis Guilder (John Stockwell), who, although very popular among peers, remains loyal to Arnie. One day, school bully Buddy Repperton (William Ostrander), a greaser and an alcoholic, gets expelled from school after threatening Arnie with a switchblade.

Later that day, Arnie sees an opportunity to buy a rusty red-white Fury from crusty bachelor George LeBay (Roberts Blossom) for $250, even though the vehicle is in serious need of repair. Dennis fruitlessly attempts to dissuade Arnie from purchasing the car (which LeBay has informed the pair is named "Christine"), pointing out that the odometer reads 93,495 miles, which Dennis surmises is likely half the actual total. Enamored with the car, Arnie ignores his friend and hastily writes LeBay a check, and he proceeds to drive home with Dennis following in his blue Dodge Charger. After his parents refuse to let Arnie park Christine in the family's driveway, as punishment for not informing them he was going to buy a car, he is forced to store her at a local garage, run by the grouchy Will Darnell (Robert Prosky), for whom he starts to work to help pay for the storage and parts for Christine.

As he begins to restore Christine to her original beauty, Arnie sits behind the wheel and the radio, which only seems to play 1950s era rock and roll, begins playing the Johnny Ace song "Pledging My Love", assuring Arnie that his feelings of admiration for Christine are requited. Those in his life notice changes in his attitude and appearance as he spends more time with the car. Initially shy and timid, Arnie develops a cocky arrogance, and a dark side, which begins to make him popular among his peers, and takes on a different appearance; he no longer wears his thick glasses and begins dressing in all black clothing. Dennis' concern for his friend deepens when George LeBay informs him that the car originally belonged to his brother, Roland, who committed suicide in it. Roland's wife and young daughter had died of carbon monoxide poisoning in Christine, and Roland was also obsessed with the vehicle.

During a football game, Dennis spies a newly restored Christine and is shocked to see Arnie with Leigh Cabot (Alexandra Paul), the most popular girl in the school. The distraction causes him to be hit while leaping for a pass, and he is seriously injured by another player, placing him in the hospital. Buddy is also there, and he notices Arnie with Leigh and Christine, and he becomes extremely jealous of the shiny, beautiful red car. Buddy and his gang follow Arnie back to Will's garage one night, where they severely vandalize and crush the newly restored Christine at night, leaving her totally ruined.

The next day, Arnie returns with Leigh to the garage to pick up his wallet, and when sees the wreck of Christine, he is shocked that all the work he put into restoring the car has been destroyed. Although his parents want to buy him a new car as he has become obsessed with Christine, Arnie is determined to restore the car again. The next day, as he looks the wreck over, he turns his back and hears metal creaking behind him; he turns and sees that Christine's engine is fully restored. Stepping away, Arnie smiles and says, " me." Christine's headlights flicker on, and she then comes to life and fully restores herself to mint condition.

The next night, Moochie, a sidekick of Buddy's, is left on the road by a truck driver and begins walking home through an industrial area. He finds Christine in a parking lot on the way, playing 50's music. He becomes scared when Christine starts her engine, and so begins to run as Christine chases him around the industrial complex. He runs into an alley, which is too narrow for Christine, but she steps on her gas and smashes herself into the tight space to cut Moochie in half.

A few days later at school, Arnie receives a visit from Detective Rudolph Jenkins (Harry Dean Stanton) who suspects Arnie killed Moochie in a fit of revenge against those who vandalized Christine. However, he is unable to produce adequate proof because, although Christine was badly damaged in the attack on Moochie, she had regenerated herself to showroom shape, while Arnie again had a strong alibi. Christine carries on and seeks out each gang member who had destroyed her and gruesomely kills them one by one. The spree climaxes when Christine confronts the last three remaining gang members: Don Vandenberg (Stuart Charno), Richie Trelawney (Steven Tash), and Buddy himself.

The slaughter begins when Christine tails Buddy and Richie from a local drugstore in Buddy's Chevrolet Camaro. Buddy pulls over at Don's service station. Buddy challenges her, thinking that Arnie is inside. Christine guns herself straight into the Camaro. Snagged, she pulls back and slams the Camaro right into Rickie who had sought refuge inside a garage stall. The fuel tank ruptures in the collision and spills gasoline onto the floor. Buddy's Camaro catches fire which quickly ignites the fuel on the floor, setting the building ablaze and killing Don.

Terrified of the situation, Buddy flees the station on foot and, as a burning Christine gives chase, she runs over the station's gas pumps, causing the station and tanks to explode. Christine chases Buddy down and runs him over, leaving him on fire on the road. Christine returns smoking and charred to the garage where Will Darnell notices her. Grabbing his shotgun, he approaches the smoldering Christine, ordering the driver to get out. After burning his hand on the drivers side door, Will finds an empty front seat. Slipping into the front seat, he smirks at the melted dashboard, burnt seats, and interior until the radio starts pumping out 50's rock and roll. The door slams, locks and the seat slides forward, suffocating Will against the steering wheel.

Next morning, Arnie arrives at the garage with Will's Caddy full of parts he had picked up the night before and is met by Jenkins. When Jenkins informs Arnie of his boss's death, Arnie says he had no idea of Will's death and discovers his car newly restored and Will dead behind the steering wheel. Arnie was also clueless about the death of Buddy and his gang. Jenkins knows a witness story about Christine the night before, but has no concrete evidence on Arnie. After an incident in which Leigh almost choked to death in Christine at a drive-in theater, she beseeches Dennis for help. Leigh and Dennis resolve to try and save Arnie, unaware that Christine is unwilling to give up Arnie without a fight.

On New Year's Eve, Dennis and Leigh reason that the only way to stop Christine and save Arnie is to destroy the car. Dennis then says that he is going to Arnie's, and Leigh urges him to be careful. After she leaves, Arnie pulls up to Dennis' house in Christine, picks him up, and the pair drive off. During the ride to Arnie's house, Arnie displays erratic and reckless behavior (drinking beer while driving, playing chicken with other motorists, and taking his hands off the wheel), and tells Dennis about how strong the bond is between Christine and him. During the ride, Dennis sees that the odometer now reads less than 58,000 miles and is still rolling backward.

The next day, Dennis goes to the school parking lot and scratches "Darnell's Tonight" into Christine's hood, and drives off with Leigh. The pair go to Darnell's, where they wait in a bulldozer. Dennis tells Leigh to wait in the office so she can shut the door after Christine arrives, trapping the vehicle. When Leigh exits the bulldozer and heads for the office, Christine's headlights suddenly blaze out of the darkness from under a pile of trash, and the car charges at Leigh. As Christine crashes into Darnell's office in an attempt to kill Leigh, Arnie is ejected through Christine's windshield and is impaled on a shard of glass, fatally wounding him. He survives just long enough to admire Christine one last time and lovingly caress her front bumper.

Enraged about Arnie's death, Christine proceeds to attack Leigh. Dennis counters in the bulldozer and he proceeds to fight Christine, who is playing "Pledging My Love" at top volume on her radio. As she is launching her final assault on Leigh, Dennis drives the bulldozer up on to the car's back, stopping her and apparently killing her. Leigh climbs into the cab and she and Dennis embrace, but Christine springs back to life and again begins to heal herself. Dennis then finishes driving over her with the bulldozer, and her headlights flicker and then go out for good.

The scene cuts immediately to the next day; Dennis and Leigh are seen along with Detective Jenkins at a wrecking yard, where Christine has been crushed into a cube by a metal compactor, apparently finally destroying her. Leigh and Dennis lament that they were unable to save Arnie and as they reflect on the events, loud 1950s rock music begins to play. Startled, Leigh and Dennis look up and see a worker in a hard hat playing the music on a boombox as he walks into view from behind some other wrecked cars. Leigh exclaims "God, I hate rock and roll." The last scene shows the camera zooming in on the crushed cube that was formerly Christine and a piece of the grill slowly begins to move into a mock smile, implying that Christine's consciousness is still intact.

Production notes[edit]

A red-and-white 1958 Plymouth Belvedere, In 1958 the Furys were only in eggshell white and gold trim being a common misconception in the film Christine.

King's novel, the source material for Carpenter's film, made it clear that the car was possessed by the evil spirit of its previous owner Roland D. LeBay, whereas the film version of the story shows that the evil spirit surrounding the car was present on the day it was built.

Although the car in the film is identified as a 1958 Plymouth Fury—and in 1983 radio ads promoting the film, voiceover artists announced, "she's a '57 Fury"—two other Plymouth models, the Belvedere and the Savoy, were also used to portray the malevolent automobile onscreen. Total production for the 1958 Plymouth Fury was only 5,303, and they were difficult to find and expensive to buy at the time. In addition, the real-life Furys only came in one color, "Buckskin Beige", seen on the other Furys during the initial scenes of the movie. Several vehicles were destroyed during filming, but most of the cars were Savoy and Belvedere models dressed to look like the Fury. Of the twenty cars used in the film, only two still exist; one vehicle was rescued from a junkyard and restored by collector Bill Gibson of Pensacola, Florida.[2]

Christine's license plates read "CQB 241". CQB is a military acronym for "close quarters battle", where targets are engaged at very close range, very swiftly and usually very violently, leaving the victim with little chance of withdrawal and/or survival. The "241" on the license plate may be read "Two for One" indicating a fight of two (Arnie and Christine) against "one" (the next victim).[citation needed]


Kevin Bacon was originally offered the leading role, but he left it to do a screen test for Footloose, at the time a risky move for him which paid off in the end.


Christine was released in North America on December 9, 1983 to 1,045 theaters.

Box office[edit]

In its opening weekend Christine brought in $3,408,904 landing at #4. The film dropped 39.6% in its second weekend, grossing $2,058,517 slipping from fourth to eighth place. In its third weekend, it grossed $1,851,909 dropping to #9. The film remained at #9 its fourth weekend, grossing $2,736,782. In its fifth weekend, it returned to #8, grossing $2,015,922. Bringing in $1,316,835 it its sixth weekend, the film dropped out of the box office top ten to twelfth place. In its seventh and final weekend, the film brought in $819,972 landing at #14, bringing the total gross for Christine to $21,017,849.[1]

Critical reception[edit]

Based on 22 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, Christine has an overall 68% approval rating from critics, with an average score of 5.8 out of 10.[3]

Soundtrack (original score) [edit]

Christine: Music from the Motion Picture
Film score by John Carpenter
and Alan Howarth
Released June 1, 1990
Genre Soundtrack
Length 33:14
Label Varèse Sarabande
Producer John Carpenter and Alan Howarth

Two soundtracks were released, one consisting purely of the music written and composed by John Carpenter and Alan Howarth, the other consisting of the contemporary pop songs used in the film.[4]

Christine: Music from the Motion Picture (by John Carpenter and Alan Howarth)
No. Title Length
1. "Arnie's Love Theme"   1:15
2. "Obsessed With The Car"   2:07
3. "Football Run/Kill Your Kids"   2:42
4. "The Rape"   1:10
5. "The Discovery"   1:30
6. "Show Me"   2:36
7. "Moochie's Death"   2:25
8. "Junkins"   3:33
9. "Buddy's Death"   1:27
10. "Nobody's Home/Restored"   1:44
11. "Car Obsession Reprise"   1:53
12. "Christine Attacks (Plymouth Fury)"   2:30
13. "Talk On The Couch"   1:23
14. "Regeneration"   1:25
15. "Darnell's Tonight"   0:13
16. "Arnie"   1:01
17. "Undented"   1:54
18. "Moochie Mix Four"   2:26

Soundtrack (songs used in the film)[edit]

The soundtrack album containing songs used in the film was entitled Christine: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack and was released on LP only. It contained 10 (of the 15) songs listed in the film's credits, plus one track from John Carpenter and Alan Howarth's own score. The track listing was as follows:

  1. George Thorogood and The Destroyers - Bad to the Bone
  2. Buddy Holly & The Crickets - Not Fade Away
  3. Johnny Ace - Pledging My Love
  4. Robert & Johnny - We Belong Together
  5. Little Richard - Keep A-Knockin'
  6. Dion and The Belmonts - I Wonder Why
  7. The Viscounts - Harlem Nocturne
  8. Thurston Harris - Little Bitty Pretty One
  9. Danny & The Juniors - Rock n' Roll is Here to Stay
  10. John Carpenter & Alan Howarth - Christine Attacks (Plymouth Fury)
  11. Larry Williams - Bony Moronie

The following tracks were not included on this LP release, but were used in the film and listed in the film's credits:

See also[edit]

  • Two Black Cadillacs, a music video by Carrie Underwood, in which two cheated women team up to murder their loved one with the help of a car with a mind of its own.
  • "A Thing about Machines", a 1960 episode of The Twilight Zone
  • "You Drive", a 1964 episode of The Twilight Zone in which the car of a hit-and-run driver hounds him to confession
  • My Mother the Car, a 1965 television sit-com series
  • The Love Bug, a 1968 comedy film about an anthropomorphic 1963 Volkswagen racing Beetle
  • Killdozer!, a 1974 made-for-TV horror movie based on a short story of the same name by Theodore Sturgeon
  • The Car, a 1977 film about an anthropomorphic customized 1971 Lincoln Continental Mark III
  • The Hearse, a 1980 horror movie about a possessed hearse
  • Knight Rider, a franchise—begun in 1982—featuring an anthropomorphic car named KITT (Knight Industries Two-Thousand)
  • Nightmares, a 1983 movie consisting of four separate story segments; the third segment, "The Benediction", features a traveling priest (played by Lance Henriksen) attacked on the highway by a demonic pickup truck
  • Maximum Overdrive, a 1986 horror movie; and Trucks, a 1997 made-for-TV remake film; both based on the short story Trucks by Stephen King
  • The Wraith, a 1986 film starring Charlie Sheen, who plays a man murdered by a gang of car thieves who gets revenge upon his killers by returning as a phantom car and driver set out to eliminate them
  • "The Honking", a 2000 Futurama episode in which the robot character, Bender, is possessed by a were-virus, transforming him into a murderous car every night at midnight. The curse could only be lifted by destroying the originator of the virus, a project-Satan car located at the "Anti-Chrysler" building. The car that hits Bender is actually a 1958 Plymouth, just like the one in Christine.
  • Road Kill, a 2010 Australian supernatural thriller about a group of teenagers menaced by a driver-less road-train in the harsh Australian outback.
  • Super Hybrid, a 2011 Science Fiction Horror thriller film about a malicious shape shifting sentient car that devours its victims by tricking them into its cab.


  1. ^ a b "Overall Box Office". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved October 22, 2010. 
  2. ^ 30th Anniversary of Stephen King's "Christine", WEAR-TV, 16 February 2013
  3. ^ "Christine Movie Reviews". Rotten Tomatoes. IGN Entertainment. Retrieved October 22, 2010. 
  4. ^ "Christine – Production Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved October 22, 2010. 

External links[edit]