“Body by Plymouth, Soul by Satan”
Firstly I’d like to start by explaining that this masterpiece, yes masterpiece, is in the top ten films ever made in my opinion. I was lucky enough to see it at a very young age, thanks dad, as a result my childhood imagination built the horror and fear to its limit and I was left hungry for another viewing. Then another, and another. As my late Nan said ‘can someone please take this video off this boy, I can’t watch that car kill any more people’, ah the innocence lost…..
Also the film has probably the BEST tagline in DVD cover history, ‘Body by Plymouth, Soul by Satan‘, wow. I’m digressing: Christine is one of the most underrated and slated films in modern cinema, certainly of Carpenter’s films and King’s adaptations. The film has one of the most extreme descents into darkness for the protagonist that I have seen and from almost exactly halfway you watch the mighty Arnie Cunningham rise to power.
Christine is essentially about a stunning, possessed 1958 Plymouth Fury on a murderous rampage against the ‘shitters’ who wronged our main man Arnie. He’s the stereotypical geek, glasses, shit hair, dodgy voice and terribly demanding parents. There is a scene towards the end when Arnie has words with his father and at the end of the exchange the deranged laughing depicts how far our Mr. Cunningham has come. Arnie spots the car, falls in love and the rest is history. Throughout the film there are references to the car being ‘alive’, emphasised beautifully with the classic late 50’s tunes emanating from the radio as various characters try to gain access.
None of these references are more apparent than when Christine puts herself back together. I think anyone will agree that the moment when Arnie comes into view of the headlights and says the words ‘ok, show me’ the next few minutes are absolutely mind blowing. To this day the special effects are second to none and for a 1983 made film is just phenomenal and puts Carpenter’s and Christine’s name firmly in the hierarchy of the golden age of horror.
John Carpenter is a guru amongst Independent film work. He has written, directed, edited, produced and composed separately or sometimes all in the same film. He’ll sit there with a spliff and tell it how it is. Hollywood never, no matter how hard they tried, had a handle on this maverick. The man is certainly someone who all film makers should look up to, no excuses, just filming only what you want, never apologising and loving every minute of it. There’s things that are handy to know like Carpenter accepted the job of director even before the book was published. Or that Kevin Bacon was offered the role of Arnie. But as Jacob’s Ladder has taught me well, the best films are watched going in blind, you can read the crap afterwards.
Finally id just like to mention the score. In true Carpenter DIY fashion he mixes some of the best tunes of the time with some of his usual, epic, eerie and damn right shit-hot background music. . Once again, like in so many of his films, this editing plays a massive part in the overall finished product. Of course right at the end it poses the standard 80’s conundrum, is she still alive….. I love it. Now although some of the acting is questionable, which is something of serious problem for me in films (Wahlberg, sorry), it is Carpenter who brings the film together in the only way Carpenter can; beautifully. I’d like to finish by telling you all to watch this. Even now when I have shown the film to my friends they have the same look as I did when I was 10, complete awe.
Thank you John, thank you.
The Brides of Dracula (1960)
A Marriage in the Moon (1910)