The first edition cover.
|Cover artist||Craig DeCamps|
|April 29, 1983|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover)|
Christine is a horror novel by American writer Stephen King, published in 1983. It tells the story of a 1958 Plymouth Fury apparently possessed by supernatural forces. A film adaptation, directed by John Carpenter, was released in December of the same year; this adaptation starred Keith Gordon, John Stockwell, Alexandra Paul and Harry Dean Stanton. In April 2013, PS Publishing released Christine in a limited 30th Anniversary Edition.
In the summer of 1978, while high school student Dennis Guilder is riding home from work with his friend, nerdy teen Arnold "Arnie" Cunningham, Arnie spots a dilapidated red and white 1958 Plymouth Fury parked behind a house. Arnie makes Dennis stop so he can examine the car, despite Dennis' attempts to talk him out of it. Roland D. LeBay, an elderly man wearing a back brace, sells the car—which he had named "Christine"—to Arnie for $250. While waiting for Arnie to finish the paperwork, Dennis sits inside Christine and has a vision of the car and the surroundings as they were when the car was new, 20 years before. Frightened, Dennis decides he dislikes Christine.
Arnie brings Christine to a do-it-yourself garage run by Will Darnell, who is suspected of using the garage as a front for illicit operations. As Arnie restores the car, he becomes withdrawn, humorless and cynical. However, he is also more confident and self-assured than usual. Dennis is puzzled by the changes in Arnie and Christine. The repair work proceeds haphazardly and the more extensive repairs, which Arnie can hardly afford, do not appear to be done by Arnie himself. Arnie's appearance improves in tandem with Christine's. His severe acne clears up and he becomes more self-assured and cocky.
When LeBay dies, Dennis meets his younger brother, George, who reveals LeBay's history of anger and violent behavior. George also reveals that LeBay's small daughter choked to death on a hamburger in the back seat of the car and that LeBay's wife, depressed by the loss of her child, committed suicide in its front seat by carbon monoxide poisoning. As time passes, Dennis observes that Arnie is taking on many of LeBay's personality traits and has begun dressing like a 1950s greaser and wearing his hair in a 1950s "duck's ass” style. Dennis also sees that Arnie has become close to Darnell, even acting as a courier in Darnell's interstate smuggling operations.
When Arnie is almost finished restoring Christine, he begins dating an attractive transfer student named Leigh Cabot. Arnie's parents refuse to keep Christine at home and force Arnie to put it in an airport parking lot. Soon afterward, Clarence "Buddy" Repperton, a bully who blames Arnie for his expulsion from school, learns where Christine is being kept and vandalizes the car with help from his gang. Arnie, aware of Christine's ability to repair herself, pushes her through Darnell's garage until enough of the damage is undone for her to run, and then drives her around and around the junkyard until she is brought all the way back. Arnie strains his back in the process and begins wearing a back brace, the same as LeBay did.
While on a date with Arnie, Leigh nearly chokes to death on a hamburger and is saved only by the intervention of a hitchhiker who uses the Heimlich maneuver. Leigh notices that Christine's dashboard lights seemed to become glaring green eyes, watching her during the incident, and that Arnie half-heartedly tried to save her by ineffectually pounding her on the back. She realizes that she and Christine are competing for Arnie's affection and vows to never get into the car again.
A number of inexplicable car-related deaths occur around town. The victims include Darnell, Buddy and all but one of his accomplices in the vandalism. The police find evidence linking Christine to each of the murders, but none is found on the car itself. A detective named Rudy Junkins becomes suspicious of Arnie despite his airtight alibis. It is revealed that Christine, possessed by LeBay's vengeful spirit, is committing these murders independently and repairing herself after each one.
Leigh and Dennis begin their own relationship, unearthing details of Christine and LeBay's past. Dennis speculates that LeBay may have deliberately sacrificed his daughter and wife to make Christine a receptacle for his own spirit. They also compare Arnie's signatures from before and after his purchase of Christine with LeBay's. One evening, Arnie stumbles upon Leigh and Dennis being intimately close in Dennis' car, sending him into a rage. Soon after, Junkins is mysteriously killed in a car crash. Knowing that they are next, Dennis and Leigh devise a plan to destroy the car and save Arnie.
While Arnie is out of town visiting a college, Dennis and Leigh lure Christine to the garage and batter her to pieces using a septic tanker truck named "Petunia" who is rented by Dennis. Dennis briefly witnesses LeBay's spirit attempting to make him stop before the wreckage is crushed. Dennis learns that Arnie and his mother were both killed in a highway accident, while Christine earlier killed Arnie's father. Witness accounts lead Dennis to believe that LeBay's spirit, tied to Arnie through Christine, fled the Plymouth and attempted to repossess Arnie, but Arnie fought him to at least a draw, resulting in the fatal wreck.
Four years later, Dennis and Leigh have ended their relationship. He reads about a freak car accident in Los Angeles, in which a drive-in theater employee — the last surviving member of Buddy's gang — was struck and killed by a car that smashed through a cinderblock wall. Dennis speculates that Christine may have rebuilt herself and is setting out to kill everyone who stood against her, saving him for last.
- "Killdozer!" (story), 1944 science fiction novella written by Theodore Sturgeon
- "Sally", a 1953 short story by Isaac Asimov.
- The Twilight Zone: episode "You Drive", a 1964 episode of the original The Twilight Zone series
- My Mother the Car, the 1965-6 sitcom about a spirit-possessed (but not murderous) car.
- The Love Bug, motion picture (1968) and its numerous sequels and spinoffs about Herbie the benevolent sentient Volkswagen.
- "Trucks", a 1973 short story by Stephen King, featuring homicidal sentient trucks
- The Car, a 1977 horror film about a killer car
- The Twilight Zone: Season 2, Episode 15 "Joy Ride", aired 21 May 1987
- "Alice", a 1999 episode of Star Trek: Voyager about a shuttlecraft with its own artificial intelligence
- Futurama: Season 2, Episode 18 "The Honking" (2000)
- From a Buick 8 (2002), another novel by Stephen King about a mysterious car
- Black Cadillac, a 2003 film about a car that stalks its victims relentlessly.
- "Route 666", a 2006 episode of Supernatural about a possessed truck