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
Music by John Carpenter
Alan Howarth
Cinematography Donald M. Morgan
Edited by Marion Rothman
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates
  • December 9, 1983 (1983-12-09)
Running time
110 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $9.7 million
Box office $21 million[1]

Christine is a 1983 American action psychological 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 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 the beginning, a red/white 1958 Plymouth Fury is being built on the assembly line. While a worker begins to inspect the engine for any mistakes, the car surprisingly closes its hood on his hand, injuring him. After the injured man is taken away, and during closing time, another worker is killed in the Fury, supposedly from inhaling exhaust fumes in the car.

Twenty years later, Arnold Cunningham (Keith Gordon) is a nerdy teen with only one friend, Dennis Guilder (John Stockwell). Arnie's life begins to change when he buys the same used Fury coupe, now named "Christine," that is in need of extensive repairs amounting to a full restoration over Dennis' objections and against his advice. He gets into a fight at school with Buddy Repperton, an overaged for high school teenager, who draws down on Arnie with a switchblade and is expelled as a result. Arnie begins to restore Christine in defiance of his parents (who force him to park Christine at Darnell's Do-It-Yourself Garage). As he spends more of his time repairing her, he begins to change, shedding his glasses, dressing better, and developing a cocky arrogance at odds with his previous nerdiness.

Everyone is interested in the hot new girl at school, Leigh Cabot (Alexandra Paul), even Dennis (who asks her out only to find that she has a date). As his best friend changes, Dennis returns to Christine's seller to ask some questions about the car. He discovers the Fury's previous owner, Roland LeBay, was obsessed with Christine despite his wife and daughter having died in the car; and that he had kept Christine until he killed himself in her.

Leigh and Arnie attend one of Dennis' football games as an official couple. Dennis not only sees them together, but that Christine is completely restored. Distracted by what he sees, he is gravely injured by a triple tackle. Arnie visits him in the hospital and learns that he was almost paralyzed and can never play football again.

Leigh and Arnie's relationship is going well until they attend a drive-in movie one rainy night. They are making out until Leigh stops and tells Arnie that she's uncomfortable in Christine, then bails out of the car. Arnie runs after her and she explains that she is too uncomfortable in Christine to have sex with him in it. He apologizes, so she returns to the car with him. Once back inside, Arnie notices that one of the windshield wiper blades is bent and gets out to fix it. Meanwhile, Leigh unwraps a hamburger and begins to eat it. The radio comes on by itself playing "We Belong Together," a blinding white light emits from the dash, and she begins to choke violently. As Arnie attempts to get into the car to save her, the doors lock by themselves. She is able to unlock the car while choking and another movie patron pulls her out and performs the Heimlich Maneuver, saving her. After they arrive at her house, they argue on her front porch about what happened, his behavior, and Christine herself. The incident puts a serious strain on their relationship.

The still-angry Repperton and his gang of toadies vandalize Christine while she is parked inside Darnell's. Leigh accompanies Arnie to Darnell's to retrieve his wallet from her and is with him when he finds the wreckage. He is devastated at the sheer amount of damage; when she tries to console him, he lashes out violently and swears at her, effectively breaking up with her.

He returns that night to start restoring the Plymouth. He speaks to Christine, saying that he knows she's safe now that the thugs have done all they could to her and that they can rebuild her together. He walks away only to turn around after hearing the creaking of metal and seeing the engine is now fully restored. Arnie steps in front of the car and commands Christine by saying, "Show me." As Arnie watches, Christine restores herself to showroom quality as if by magic.

Later that evening, she seeks out and targets Moochie Welch (Malcolm Danare) first, who she crushes to death in a small alley after running him to ground. A few days later, Rudy Junkins, a detective, finds Arnie at school. He questions him about Welch's death, and why the car he'd heard was trashed appears to be in brand new condition. Arnie replies that the damage wasn't as bad as Junkins had heard, and he was glad that Moochie had gotten what he deserved. Since Arnie's alibi checked out and he was in Darnell's car, the detective has to let him go.

That evening, Buddy Repperton (William Ostrander) and his toadie Richie Trelawney (Steven Tash) leave a liquor store in Buddy's Camaro and encounter a car that first puts its high beams on and then tailgates them, unaware that it is Christine. After stopping and backing up with her anticipating their actions, they take off at a high rate of speed with her tailing them. They believe they've lost her when they exit the car at the gas station where Repperton's other toady Don Vandenberg (Stuart Charno) works, but then she arrives, crashing into Repperton's car and smashing it nearly in two. With the Camaro locked to her front bumper, Christine crashes into the garage bay, killing Richie, rupturing the Camaro's gas tank, and causing an explosion that kills Don and sets her ablaze. Buddy believes he is safe until Christine comes roaring out of the garage and chases him down the highway, still on fire, eventually running him over and leaving his body burning on the asphalt.

When Christine arrives back at the garage, Darnell is just preparing to leave. He watches her enter, still smoldering. He calls the customer that Arnie was to deliver to and asks if he showed. When told he did, and in Will's Cadillac, Darnell hangs up and grabs a shotgun before leaving his office. He walks up to the car and grabs the handle, which is still hot from the fire. Christine allows him to open the door and he looks inside, seeing there is no one behind the wheel. He sits down behind the wheel with his shotgun, thoroughly confused. The radio comes on, playing "Bony Moronie," the door slams shut and locks, and the seat ratchets forward, crushing the overweight Darnell to death against the steering wheel.

The next morning when Arnie shows up, the police are there. Darnell is dead in Christine's front seat and she is once again in like-new condition. Junkins questions Arnie again and he gets angry, challenging him to call his mother to verify he was home all night and had had Darnell's car. Once again Junkins is forced to back off once he establishes Arnie has an airtight alibi for his whereabouts during the killings.

On New Year's Eve, Leigh calls Dennis, asking to come talk to him about Arnie. Dennis and Leigh reason that the only way to stop Christine and save Arnie is to destroy the car. Dennis scratches "Darnell's Tonight" into Christine's hood, then makes his way there with Leigh. Dennis hot-wires the bulldozer out back, moves it into the garage, and they discuss how to lure Christine inside so they can destroy her. The plan set, Leigh exits to head to the office so that she can close the overhead door on the street side after Christine arrives, trapping her so they can kill her.

However, Christine had been lying in wait the entire time under a pile of scrap metal and charges Leigh as soon as her feet hit the floor. Leigh runs from Christine as Dennis attempts to run interference and Christine smashes into a car abandoned in the garage, T-boning it as she had Repperton's Camaro. The Fury returns to the shadows to regenerate. When it emerges, it's revealed that Arnie is behind the wheel. (All the other times when she attacked her windows were too dark to see inside, but Arnie had not been driving, having solid alibis at the times of the attacks.) While attempting to kill Leigh by crashing into Darnell's office, Arnie is thrown through Christine's windshield. When he attempts to stand and grabs Leigh, she sees that he was impaled on a shard of window glass and mortally wounded. Before he dies, he reaches out to touch Christine one last time.

Leigh exits the wreckage of the office to tell Dennis that Arnie is dead. However, even without him Christine is not done. She continues to attack Dennis and Leigh, sustaining damage and regenerating even faster than before. Dennis pulls Leigh into the cab of the bulldozer and the two of them smash Christine with it, driving back and forth over her, tearing her apart and finally disabling her for good.

Dennis and Leigh return to the junkyard the next day and see the remains of the Fury crushed into a cube. Detective Junkins is with them, and tries to console them, pointing out that they managed to stop Christine even though they were unable to save Arnie. They are spooked momentarily when they hear a '50s rock and roll song playing and they think it's Christine regenerating — her radio only played 1950s rock and roll. They are relieved to find that it's just a workman walking through the junkyard with a boom box. The closing shot of the film is a closeup of the crushed cube that was Christine as a piece of the grill slowly begins to unbend.



California 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 Furies on the assembly line 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 is a stunt vehicle with a manual transmission and now resides in the hands of a private California collector.[2] The other vehicle was rescued from a junkyard and restored by collector Bill Gibson of Pensacola, Florida.[3]


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 24 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, Christine has an overall 67% approval rating from critics, with an average score of 5.7 out of 10.[4] Roger Ebert gave the movie three out of four stars.

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.[5]

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 and cassette on Motown Records.[6] 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 sitcom series
  • The Love Bug, a 1968 comedy film about an anthropomorphic 1963 Volkswagen Beetle racecar
  • 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 artificially intelligent third generation Pontiac Firebird Trans Am 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.
  • "Route 666", a 2006 Supernatural episode about a driverless black Dodge utiline truck in Cape Girardeau, Missouri killing everyone related to its owner's past.
  • 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.
  • "Christrina", a Grojband episode where Kin's dream catching camera messed up and released Trina's soul from her body and into her car, bringing her car to life. Trina became angry about this and went around on a rampage destroying everything in her car body.
  • "Alice", an episode of Star Trek: Voyager featuring an sentient alien shuttle with a similar effect on Tom Paris that Christine had on Arnie Cunningham. The title shuttle tried to kill B'Elanna Torres in a similar manner as Christine tried with Leigh Cabot.


  1. ^ a b "Overall Box Office". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved October 22, 2010. 
  2. ^ [1], Christopher Rutkowski, theAFICIONAUTO, autoblog, Living Christine
  3. ^ 30th Anniversary of Stephen King's "Christine", WEAR-TV, 16 February 2013
  4. ^ "Christine Movie Reviews". Rotten Tomatoes. IGN Entertainment. Retrieved October 22, 2010. 
  5. ^ "Christine – Production Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved October 22, 2010. 
  6. ^ "Christine (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)". Retrieved 31 May 2015. 

External links[edit]