Blu-ray: Christine (1983)
Under the thumb of his parents at home and insecure in High School, Arnie Cunningham (Keith Gordon) is taken under the wing of his confident and popular school friend Dennis (John Stockwell). It is when Arnie is at his lowest ebb, both mentally and physically, that he spots an old run down car for sale. Seeing parallels with both himself and the car (unloved and beaten up), Arnie buys it and sets out on a path of restoration that transforms both him and the car internally and externally. The restored car, now lovingly called ‘Christine’ by Arnie, becomes jealous of anyone with whom ‘she’ would have to share Arnie’s affections with and embarks on a killing spree that spirals out of control. Arnie, now the polar opposite of who he once was, is initially oblivious to what is happening and it is up to Dennis and Arnie’s spurned girlfriend Leigh (Alexandra Paul) to try and end the madness.
Directed by John Carpenter from a Stephen King novel, Christine has horror royalty pumping through its pistons and is my personal favourite Stephen King movie adaptation. Coming off the back of The Fog, Escape From New York and The Thing, Carpenter continued his fantastic run of work throughout the 1980’s by being able to inject a distinct sense of evil into a 1958 Plymouth Fury. Enhanced by yet another of his minimal, yet atmospheric, synthesised scores (with the addition of some fantastic 1950’s songs), Christine slowly cranks up the tension (and kills) until its nail biting end.
Christine is one of those ‘comfort blanket’ movies for me; one which you’ve watched many times yet keep reaching for when either undecided what to watch or feeling under the weather and want to sit and enjoy something that you’re familiar with. The mixture of Carpenter’s eerie score, the upbeat 50’s songs that usually precede a kill, the characters and the story arc that encompasses them, all moulds into a movie that makes you care more for each person with every subsequent viewing.
Powerhouse films and their ‘Indicator’ series of releases (see Tina’s review of Body Double here) have given Christine a spit and polish so good that they had better watch out that Arnie Cunningham doesn’t come after them in a fit of jealousy. The 2K restoration looks amazing and highlights even more the transformation of the car from rusted and beaten wreck, to pristine Christine. The isolated soundtrack is also a pleasure to listen to, evoking memories of key scenes as you sit back, eyes closed and listen.
The special features are extensive too, and while mostly not new from previous releases, they are essential viewing (and listening) which enhance the movie greatly. John Carpenter is always good on commentary tracks and his chat with Keith Gordon is both witty, entertaining and informative. Deleted scenes and a three part documentary flesh out the making of Christine in a way that makes you appreciate it even more.
A superb addition in these Indicator series of releases are the enclosed full colour booklets. The one which accompanies Christine is 24 pages, full colour and has both a new essay about the movie by Jeff Billington, as well as a 1993 article by John Carpenter on his cinematic ‘guilty pleasures’. Essential reading and a superb extra in what is already an amazing release.
We at 60 Minutes With have loved our first 2 experiences of releases by Powerhouse films and their Indicator series. If Body Double and Christine are anything to go by, they have a profitable future to look forward to and we all have many great movies to watch.
INDICATOR LIMITED EDITION SPECIAL FEATURES
• 2K restoration
• Original stereo audio
• Alternative 5.1 surround sound track
• Audio commentary with director John Carpenter and actor Keith Gordon
• Christine: Ignition, Fast and Furious & Finish Line (2003, 48 mins): three-part ‘making of’ documentary, featuring interviews with cast and crew, including John Carpenter and Keith Gordon
• Deleted scenes (26 mins): twenty-one sequences which never made the final cut
• Isolated score: experience John Carpenter’s original soundtrack music
• Image gallery: on-set and promotional photography
• Theatrical trailers
• TV Spots
• New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
• Limited edition exclusive 24-page booklet with a new essay by Jeff Billington and a 1996 article on Carpenter’s cinematic ‘guilty pleasures’
• Limited Dual Format Edition of 5,000 copies
• UK Blu-ray premiere
Review by Dave (host of 60 Minutes With) from a disc kindly supplied by Powerhouse Films.