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JOHN CARPENTER DIRECTS STEPHEN KING'S KILLER CAR 'CHRISTINE'

Title: Christine YEAR: 1983 Rates: ****
John Carpenter's most sparse and subtle horror film, and based on Stephen King's multi-perspective novel, CHRISTINE is to high school what THE SHINING is to hotel management as Keith Gordon plays an initially geeky character suitably named Arnie, who, best friends since childhood with popular yet humble jock John Stockwell as Dennis, the tables turn when the dork lands the prettiest girl on campus, new student Leigh played by meek ingenue Alexandria Paul..

Well Kelly Preston's actually the hottest but that's an opinion, and as head cheerleader, football hero Stockwell has her in the bag yet still tries for/strikes out with Leigh before a cool Carpenter glide-cam sports scene where Dennis, running for a long bomb pass, sees Arnie kissing the tall beauty, leaning on an old, recently purchased Chevy he seemed possessed by from the moment he laid eyes on this titular 1950's vehicle, and all to Dennis's distrust and chagrin.

William Ostrander as Buddy Reperton in Christine
With only a few body count sequences against Arnie's former bullies (ignited in a shop class fight deliberately consisting of mostly closeups), each death means more than the usual bloody teen slasher flicks saturating the early/mid eighties' horror market...

That Carpenter goes against despite having started it all with HALLOWEEN, sharing both the setting and time (CHRISTINE exists when HALLOWEEN both takes place and was filmed), the late 1970's suburbs shaded by tall, leafy trees. And yet the aura, style and pace (including Harry Dean Stanton as a Noir-like cop and Leigh's old fashion/good girl persona), is, like the car itself, reminiscent of the 1950's, taking its time in a meticulous, timeless fashion...

Kelly Preston in Christine
The only problem involves Gordon's overacting as he gets more and more crazy after transitioning too quickly from zero to hero: Liken when he and his girlfriend are at a drive-in, arguing about Christine before we got to know them as a normal couple. And one latter sequence on a night drive with Dennis's teary-eyed reaction to his friend's dark diatribe is awkwardly melodramatic...

But no matter, CHRISTINE is a nearly perfect very-good-movie that doesn't try for epic greatness and in that, succeeds in having just enough horror to sharpen the action thriller pace where the "possession" is secondary to what's really, truly a first love/love story between a boy and his car. They really do have chemistry. And what Carpenter provides is a dangerous, suspenseful setting for anyone or anything that gets in their way, also including Robert Prosky as a scene-stealing, cigar-chomping mechanic, whose filthy garage harbors CHRISTINE and who, despite his bitter and incessant, foul-mouthed lectures, becomes more of a dad to Arnie than his uptight and condescending yet eventually petrified parents.
Though this is Dennis's hot rod, this is the most ominous car shot in CHRISTINE
Malcolm Danare as Moochie in the most famous death scene in CHRISTINE
Keith Gordon having trouble with his locker in CHRISTINE
Not so cheery cheerleader Kelly Preston as Roseanne in CHRISTINE
Alexandra Paul as Leigh Cabot phoning in lines for John Carpenter's CHRISTINE
True leading character Dennis Guilder played by John Stockwell in CHRISTINE
Kelly Preston cheerleading in CHRISTINE with a mysterious Indian
Kelly Preston cheerleading in CHRISTINE with a mysterious Indian
Kelly Preston cheerleading in CHRISTINE with a mysterious Indian
Kelly Preston cheerleading in CHRISTINE with a mysterious Indian
Kelly Preston cheerleading in CHRISTINE with a mysterious Indian
John Carpenter points out on the Christine commentary these girls look too feather-haired 80's
Kelly Preston striking out again (for some reason) w/ John Stockwell in Christine
And then there's the beauty CHRISTINE aka De Satanische Schuit aka Кристин on the sidelines
Harry Dean Stanton finds a new repo kid in Keith Gordon: he's really a snoopy cop in CHRISTINE
Keith Gordon unfairly mocking the gorgeous Kelly Preston in CHRISTINE
Christine Belford plays Arnie Cunningham's mom so she's Mrs C. in Christine
Christine Belford as Mrs Cunningham's POV is the coolest shot in CHRISTINE
Christine Belford as Arnie's mom in John Carpenter's CHRISTINE
Christine Belford as Arnie's mom in John Carpenter's CHRISTINE
Christine Belford as Arnie's mom in John Carpenter's CHRISTINE
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