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Christine on DVD

John Carpenter's Christine on DVD

She was born in Detroit, on an automobile assembly line. And for some reason, she harbors an unholy presence somewhere inside her.

Arnie Cunningham (Keith Gordon) is an unfortunate soul. His parents are unnecessarily and excessively unreasonable, he gets picked on by the bullies at school, and girls won’t give him a second look. His only saving grace is his best pal, Dennis (John Stockwell), who constantly looks out for him.

Then, after school, Arnie sees a 1958 Plymouth Fury that’s in such bad shape, it’s amazing it even starts. Despite Dennis’s advisement, Arnie buys the thing and gets to work fixing it up.

What Arnie doesn’t know is that Christine is not the kind of car to just sit idly by and let someone get between them. So when Arnie finally starts seeing a lovely young lady, Leigh (Alexandra Paul), it’s not long before Christine tries to take her out of the picture. And when a group of toughs smashes Christine beyond recognition, she comes back with a vengeance. But of course, cars don’t have minds of their own, so all signs point to Arnie. After all, he’s been acting really weird lately, as if he’s been possessed by…something.

Can the people that care about Arnie do something in time to save his soul? Or is the evil car from hell going to conquer the world?

Horror master John Carpenter directed Christine, bringing his trademark style to the film. Things start off pretty slowly, and take a while to get going, but get increasingly intense as time rolls on. Nowadays, the movie isn’t all that scary, but in its time we’re sure it was considered a screamer. Besides, just because it isn’t scary by 2004 standards doesn’t mean it isn’t a fine movie. After all, it's a Carpenter flick!

The characters are established early on, including Christine, who is established as an evil entity within the first few seconds. We know from the first time we see Arnie that he’s the one that’s going to be seduced by the car. And we know there’s going to be more fun with Buddy, the bully, long before we ever make it that far.

Christine is classic horror from a classic director. It’s not great cinema, but hey, it’s mindless popcorn entertainment. In that regard, John Carpenter is the master. Well recommended for fans.

This new special edition of Christine is a worthy one. Video is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, and while it suffers from age, it looks pretty good considering. Colors are handled well, and overall detail is pretty good, but the print looks soft and is hindered by the occasional bit of grain that covers the screen (if only for a brief moment).

Christine always sparkles, though, as if she has an unworldly power that prevents her from being affected by…well, anything.

Audio comes in a Dolby Surround track that does a good job of separating the elements between the front channels. This film could have really used some surround sound: for example, every time Christine’s radio turns on, or the engine starts (or whatever), it should use the rear speakers most prominently to creep the heck out of you and add to the feeling of impending doom. But anyway, the audio is pretty good for what it is, so we won’t complain too much.

John Carpenter and Keith Gordon provide an audio commentary on the disc. We’ve always enjoyed Carpenter’s commentaries in the past (particularly those with Kurt Russell), and he doesn’t disappoint. He seems like a genuinely pleasant guy who just loves making movies, and he always provides plenty of information about random stuff. If Gordon didn’t get really annoying really fast, this would be a great track.

Also included are 20 deleted and alternate scenes that range from really good character bits to completely superfluous ramblings. Three featurettes explore the making of the film, from Stephen King’s original story to the post-production process. Running about 45 minutes in total, these are much more generous than we were expecting. Finally, there are a few previews for other Columbia Tristar “horror” movies, including Underworld and Kingdom Hospital.

Christine, from Columbia Tristar Home Entertainment
110 minutes, anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) 16x9 enhanced, Dolby Digital Surround
Starring Keith Gordon, John Stockwell, Alexandra Paul, Robert Prosky
Produced by Richard Kobritz
Screenplay by Bill Phillips, Directed by John Carpenter


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