2016 has already been an exciting year for fans of the Master of Horror himself, John Carpenter. As he continues to travel the world with his first ever live music tour performing selections from his iconic scores, long overdue releases of some of his best films are starting to trickle through. One of the most exciting is Christine, brought to us as the first entry in Powerhouse’s new ‘Indicator’ series of dual format releases.
Arnie Cunningham (Keith Gordon), an outcast and bullied nerd, struggles through high school with the help of his only friend Dennis (John Stockwell). After purchasing a beat-up old ’58 (or ’57, depending on who you ask) Plymouth Fury – named ‘Christine’ – Arnie becomes more and more obsessed with his new car, until its apparent evil spirit begins to consume him. As the bodies pile up, Detective Rudolph Junkins (Harry Dean Stanton) becomes suspicious of Christine’s increasingly cold and aggressive young driver.
Christine is a classic of 1980s horror, despite a lukewarm reception upon release – and the film not being what John Carpenter wanted to make. Carpenter has since stated he directed the film as ‘a job’ rather than a ‘personal project’, to try and rebuild his reputation after The Thing failed financially and critically. Stephen King, the author of Christine, has such a good reputation at the time that the film was greenlit and fast-tracked before the book was even completed.
Utilising a 2K restoration and original stereo audio (as well as an alternative 5.1 track), Christine looks and sounds utterly stunning. The release is also rammed with special features including an audio commentary, a three-part documentary, deleted scenes and an isolated score track – and as if that wasn’t enough, this limited-to-5,000-copies release also boasts a beautiful 24-page booklet with a new essay by Jeff Billington and a wonderful 1996 article on Carpenter’s cinematic ‘guilty pleasures’.
In 2016, the film holds up beautifully well. The film’s lack of in-your-face special effects means it doesn’t feel dated, Carpenter’s score is as chilling as ever, the acting is surprisingly good for ‘80s horror and the film’s delivery and production still feels fresh.
Christine is still an unforgettable ride, even 33 years since it first rolled off the lot.