Hello Geeks and Ghouls, Famous Monster here. Well, it’s finally October and you know what that means? Breast Cancer Awareness 5Ks? Good guess. Pumpkin Spice Lattes? Delicious, but no. Halloween? YES. Horror movies? DOUBLE YES!
Welcome to 31 Days of Horror, where I’ll cover at least two noteworthy horror films a day for the entirety of the month. That’s 31 Days of Horror and 62+ scary movies perfect for a cold, dark October night. Be sure to visit Geeks of Doom every day this month for a double-shot of chills and thrills!
Today’s double-shot features a pair of Stephen King’s favorite gals: John Carpenter‘s 1983 film, Christine, and Brian De Palma‘s 1976 classic, Carrie.
“My asshole brother bought her back in September ’57. That’s when you got your new model year, in September. Brand-new, she was. She had the smell of a brand-new car. That’s just about the finest smell in the world, ‘cept maybe for pussy.” – George LeBay
John Carpenter‘s 1983 film adaptation of Stephen King‘s popular novel takes place Rockbridge, California in the late ’70s. Seventeen-year-old Arnie Cunningham (Keith Gordon) has purchased a rusted-out 1958 Plymouth Fury from a peculiar old codger by the name of Mr. LeBay (Roberts Blossom). “Her name’s Christine,” says LeBay, who neglects to mention that his own brother died in the car years earlier.
Arnie becomes obsessed with Christine, investing all of his time and money into restoring the ’58 Fury to its glory days. As Arnie spends more time with his new gal, his personality begins to change. His friends Dennis (John Stockwell) and Leigh (Alexandra Paul) notice Arnie’s dramatic mood swings but are unable to get through to him.
When Arnie’s arch-nemesis Buddy Repperton (William Ostrander) and his gang of bullies begin to interfere with Arnie’s newfound social life, they are quickly “taken care of” by Christine. And once Christine’s finished with Repperton and his boys, she’ll steer straight for the one person in her way: Arnie’s girlfriend, Leigh… the other woman.
That Creepy Scene:
Repperton’s gang follows Arnie back to the garage and wait for him to leave. That night, they vandalize and destroy the newly-restored Christine. One of Repperton’s thugs, Moochie (Malcolm Danare), goes so far as to take a shit on the dashboard. Christine is ruined – beyond totaled. Her tuck-and-roll upholstery has been stabbed and ripped to shreds – her body riddled with holes and stab wounds.
Arnie arrives at the garage the next morning and sees the beat-up remains of Christine and is crushed that all the work he put into restoring the car has been destroyed. He turns his back and hears steel creaking and twisting behind him; Arnie turns and sees that Christine’s engine is fully restored. Stepping away, Arnie smiles and says, “Okay…show me.” Christine’s headlights flicker on, and she comes to life (with a fantastic music cue from Carpenter) and fully restores herself to mint condition before Arnie’s eyes.
Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned – in this case, a cherry-red ’58 Plymouth Fury with an evil mind of its own. Christine is a homicidally jealous female willing to kill in order to preserve the affections of her owner. Based on Stephen King’s 1983 novel, John Carpenter’s film adaptation is filled with atmospheric sequences (and fantastic special effects) that somewhat compensate for the story’s overall lack of spine-tingling terrors.
Christine is more reminiscent of ‘harmless’ horrors of the ’50s and ’60s like The Fly and The Blob. While supernatural in nature, it’s about an evil car after all, Christine isn’t a gory slaughter-fest like most ’80s horror films. It relies on mood and character develop to push home the idea that Christine is alive – that she’s changing Arnie – and convinces you a car can come to life and kill for the love of its owner.
Thanks to impressive special effects by Roy Arbogast, who’s worked on everything from Close Encounters of the Third Kind and The Thing to Return of the Jedi and Starman, Christine holds up and provides some head-scratching moments (like when Christine rebuilds herself in front of Arnie) that put ILM’s work on Michael Bay’s Transformers films to shame – a real car, real metal, twisting and transforming IN CAMERA – it doesn’t get any better than that, folks.
There’s a special place in my heart for Christine – maybe it’s because I love the book so much, or maybe it’s because I want to champion one of Carpenter’s seldom seen and under-appreciated films – but in any case, Christine is a staple of the Halloween season for me – I watch it every year. Hell, I even went to a horror convention just to see the old girl in person:
Brian De Palma‘s (Dressed to Kill) classic horror film, based on Stephen King‘s first novel, stars Sissy Spacek as Carrie White, a shy, self-conscious teenager who is constantly bullied at her small-town high school.
When Carrie experiences her first menstruation, she panics – a result of inexperience and religious guilt forced upon her by her fundamentalist Christian mother, Margaret (Piper Laurie), only causes her classmates’ vicious cruelty to escalate. Finally, Bates High School’s most valuable bitch Chris Hargenson (Nancy Allen) fabricates a cruel, disgusting prank at the school prom, Carrie unleashes a horrifying display of telekinetic powers.
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