It was directed by horror legend John Carpenter (Halloween and Escape from New York, who also composed the score. Despite mixed reviews from critics upon its release, it has developed a cult following, and is generally regarded by fans as one of the better adaptations of King's novels.
The film was released to theaters on December 9, 1983. On the same day as the release of "Scarface".
Arnold "Arnie" Cunningham (Keith Gordon) is an awkward, unpopular teen with only one friend, Dennis Guilder (John Stockwell). Arnie's life begins to change when he buys a used, badly battered red-and-white 1958 Plymouth Fury named "Christine," in need of extensive repairs. Arnie begins to restore Christine at a local repair shop and junkyard, Darnell's Autobody, but as he spends more of his time working on the car, he discards his glasses, dresses more like a 1950s greaser and develops an arrogant personality. Arnie's new girlfriend, Leigh Cabot (Alexandra Paul), and Dennis discover the car's previous owner was obsessed with Christine and committed suicide in it by carbon monoxide poisoning.
A group of bullies at school--angry with Arnie after a shop class confrontation results in the lead bully, Buddy Repperton (William Ostrander), being expelled from school--vandalize Christine. Arnie's devastated and determined to repair Christine. As he examines the ruined car, he hears the creaking of metal and notices the engine is now fully restored. Arnie tells the car, "Show me." Christine flips on its lights and restores itself to showroom quality, then, driving itself, seeks out the vandals. Moochie Wells (Malcolm Danare) is targeted first and crushed to death in an alley. Buddy, Richie Trelawney (Steven Tash) and Don Vandenberg (Stuart Charno) are then killed: Richie and Don are caught in a gas station explosion (which sets Christine on fire); and Buddy is run over and burned by the flaming car. Darnell (Robert Prosky), owner of the garage and junkyard where Arnie restored and keeps his Plymouth Fury, is killed in the garage when he sits in the car and is crushed by the seat adjuster after he saw the burned Christine drive itself into its parking stall.
On New Year's Eve, Dennis and Leigh reason that the only way to stop Christine and save Arnie is to destroy the car. Dennis scratches "Darnell's Tonight"--referencing the name of the junkyard--into Christine's hood, then makes his way there with Leigh. Dennis waits in a bulldozer while Leigh heads to the office so that she can shut the door after Christine arrives, trapping the car. Christine, who has been lying in wait the entire time, shines the headlights from under a pile of trash and the car charges after Leigh. Christine crashes into Darnell's office in an attempt to kill Leigh, and Arnie (revealed to have been driving the car himself) is thrown through Christine's windshield. He is impaled on a shard of glass and dies, reaching out to touch Christine one last time. Christine continues to attack Dennis and Leigh, repeatedly sustaining damage and regenerating. Dennis pulls Leigh into the cab of the bulldozer; the two then smash Christine, driving back and forth over the car with the bulldozer as it mocks them by playing "Rock and Roll is Here To Stay" over the radio until at last it is too shredded to regenerate again.
Dennis and Leigh survive and leave behind the remains of the car. The closing shot of the film is of Christine, now having been crushed into a cube by a car crusher, as a piece of the grille slowly begins to straighten, implying that Christine's still alive (to some extent).
- Keith Gordon as Arnold "Arnie" Cunningham
- John Stockwell as Dennis Guilder
- Alexandra Paul as Leigh Cabot
- Robert Prosky as Will Darnell
- Harry Dean Stanton as Detective Rudolph "Rudy" Junkins
- Christine Belford as Regina Cunningham
- Roberts Blossom as George LeBay
- Kelly Preston as Roseanne (character)
- William Ostrander as Clarence "Buddy" Repperton
- Malcolm Danare as Peter "Moochie" Welch
- Steven Tash as Richard "Richie" Trelawney
- Stuart Charno as Donald "Don" Vandenberg
- David Spielberg as Mr. Casey
ProductionThere were 14 Red Plymouth Furies used to portray Christine in the film. The film had a very extensive budget of $9,700,000, and is notorious for destroying so many cars during production, by fire, or by hand.
John Carpenter also composed the musical score for the film. The film was too light to be rated R, so at the time of its release, it would have been rated PG. (The PG-13 rating didn't exist yet) So, the producers added the word 'fuck' multiple times so more people would see the film.
Christine's license plate is yellow and says CQB, which means Close Quarters Battle, where it is a duel between two people, and one is obviously overpowered, with little chance of escape.
In the scene where Buddy and his gang trash Christine before denting the engine Buddy grabs the bonnet and throws it up with such force that he throws the bonnet off and away. But when Christine shows her regenerative powers to Arnie her bonnet miraciously comes back.
There is no engine under Buddy's camaro when Christine crashes into it.
1958 plymouth furies did not have door lock buttons as depicted in the film.
When Leigh visits Arnie's hair is slightly wet. But later on it is instantly drenched.
There are casters under another car in the garage.
Differences from the novel
- While it takes in Rockbridge, California, the book takes place in Libertyville, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Pittsburgh.
- In the book after the fight it is Arnie Cunningham who helps Dennis up but in the film it is Mr. Casey
- The dialogue before and after the fight is much longer in the novel
- In the novel Arnie says that Buddy snatches his lunchbag and steps on it which starts the fight but in the film it is started when Buddy takes a switchblade, pierces the bag and spills the contents on the floor.
- In the film the fight is very short
- In the book it is said that Buddy Repperton likes to do things "three on two." But in the film it is said he likes to do things "three on one"
- Buddy kicks away the Switchblade in the book but in the film he leaves after swearing revenge on Arnie
- In the book Don Vandenberg is the last member of Buddy's gang to die but in the film Buddy is the last to die
- Moochie is killed in the novel after Christine runs over him about 20 times but in the film he dies after being crushed
- Richie Trelawney and Don Vandenberg both die at the same time and die in the same way although Richie gets crushed but his body is destroyed in the explosion that kills Don.
- Arnie Cunningham dies in a car accident in the novel but in the film he dies after being impaled on a broken windscreen shard.
- In the novel, Christine is a four-door (despite the 1958 model year wasn't made as a four-door). In the film, Christine is a two door.
- In the novel, Detective Rudy Junkins is killed by Christine. In the film, he is alive and with Leigh and Dennis staring at the cube that is Christine.
- In the novel, Dennis has a 1975 Plymouth Duster. In the film, Dennis has a 1968 Dodge Charger.