The Horror Honeys: Just a Boy & His Murderous Car

Just a Boy & His Murderous Car

Everyone remembers their first love. It's just unfortunate when your first love happens to be an evil 1958 Plymouth Fury that keeps trying to murder your girlfriend. Christine, directed by John Carpenter and adapted from a Stephen King novel that was published the same year, is a story of one nerdy boy's transformation from high school whipping boy to badass 50s-style greaser thanks to the affection of a possessed car. Easily one of the most beloved film adaptations of a King novel to date, Christine has become a horror classic and is definitely one my personal favorites in the King cannon.

The Plot: It's 1978, and class nerd Arnie Cunningham (as if he had any other choice with that name) is starting his senior year of high school. His best friend Dennis wants to get Arnie laid, but poor Arnie doesn't think his chances of getting his oil changed are that good, so he resigns himself to focusing on his studies. All that changes, however, when Arnie spots a broken down Plymouth in a field that is practically calling his name. Against his parents' wishes and Dennis's advice, Arnie buys the car, named Christine, and starts sprucing it up. However, the better Christine starts to run, the more like an evil James Dean Arnie starts to look, complete with a rebellious bad attitude. Arnie's enemies start dropping like flies, and his girlfriend starts fearing for her life. Can Arnie be saved from Christine's influence before it's too late?

Back before being a nerd was in vogue.
One of the most interesting things about the film version of Christine is that Stephen King was so popular in 1983, the movie went into production even before the novel had been released. Luckily, I was born in 1983 and didn't know the difference, so I had the option of deciding which I wanted to experience first as a teenager 13 years later, I went with King's book. And while there are distinct differences between novel and film, they are both supremely entertaining in their own rights. King's novel provided far more backstory in terms of Christine's evil origins, but I love that the film was more about Arnie and his transformation. Because for me, Keith Gordon makes Christine.

Never make a possessed Fury jealous.
In a film that was as much about a boy discovering his dark side and then succumbing completely to it as it was about a possessed Plymouth, Keith Gordon was the ideal Arnie. As an audience, you totally bought Gordon as the nerdy boy next door. But as he slowly transformed into a violent, foul-mouthed hooligan, Gordon was so convincing in the role that it seemed as if he should have been a badass all along. Now mostly a director (Dexter, The Killing, Homeland), Gordon will always be Arnie Cunningham to me.

One of my favorite shots in the whole film!
If you've only seen the film version of Christine, I definitely recommend reading King's book as well. There are enough differences between the two that it won't feel like a derivative experience. And seeing as this IS Stephen King week, what better time to pick up a book? Movies are awesome, but there is nothing more fun than letting your imagination do the stabbing. (The more you know... WHOOSH!)

Revenge Honey Stabby Points: 4 out of 5