Label: Twilight Time/ Region: All / Released: March 12, 2013
Genre: Supernatural Horror / Stephen King
Synopsis: After restoring a vintage Plymouth Fury, a teen becomes the love object of the murderous, possessive automobile.
Special Features: 2003 Audio commentary with director John carpenter and actor keith Gordon / Isolated stereo music track / 3 2003 Featurettes: “Fast and Furious” (28:52) + “Finish Line” (7:16) + “Ignition” (11:53) / Deleted and Alternate Scenes (26:01) / 2013 8-page colour booklet with liner notes by film historial Julie Kirgo / Limited to 3000 copies / Available exclusively from Screen Archives Entertainment.
John Carpenter’s film version of Christine joins a qualitatively diverse cadre of killer vehicle movies, and alongside Duel (1971), The Car(1977), Killdozer (1974), and to a slight extent Wheels of Terror (1990), this sub-sub genre is pretty much about machines that were either born bad or happened to be possessed by some demonic entity, and need to hurt humans using the full impact of their deadly mass.
Perhaps due to its literary origins and Stephen King’s imagination, Christine is also a subversive drama about extreme teen angst and sense of utter displacement from society, and maybe the first film where a man develops a direct hot & bothered relationship with a Detroit product. Within Christine there is indeed inappropriate touching, and had nerd Arnie (Keith David) been more decisive in his mate selection, he would’ve found a way to mate with his restored 1958 Plymouth Fury.
The car is clearly the star of the film, but screenwriter Bill Phillips neatly sets up plenty of character development as Christine gradually de-nerdifies Arnie, but her jealousy creates a rift with best friend / football jock Dennis (John Stockwell), and destroys his burgeoning relationship with new transfer student Leigh (Alexandra Paul). More importantly, we’re shown in excruciating detail Christine’s destruction and defilement by Arnie’s bullies, so after the car rebuilds herself, her rage isn’t just bigger; it’s justified. That key transition puts us squarely on the side of the machine, and there’s total satisfaction as Carpenter stages clean, effective montages where Christine bisects, immolates, and flattens her sodomizers.
Christine isn’t a perfect film – the dialogue is sometimes tinny, hottie Leigh has zero depth, and David Keith’s performance (and visage) rarely remains subdued – but it all works in this slightly overlong killer car film. It’s also part of Carpenter’s golden widescreen period where the colours, the 2.35:1 composition, and those hypnotic lens flares defined his inimitable style.
Twilight Time’s Blu-ray features a gorgeous transfer and dynamic DTS audio, and happily replicates all extras from Sony’s 2003 special edition, including the featurettes, deleted scenes, commentary with Carpenter and Keith, plus an isolated score track. Only qualm: why has no one still archived on any Christine video release the brilliant teaser trailer?
To avoid the ire of Christine’s soul, though, this sold-out limited release needs to be earmarked for a second pressing.
© 2013 Mark R. Hasan
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Category: Blu-ray / DVD Film Review