It's hard to believe that we're coming up on thirty years since the release of Christine- the John Carpenter film based on the Stephen King novel. You remember- the one that proves that woman has no scorn like a Plymouth's Fury. And it's time for me to make a startling confession- I was so upset by the film that I walked out halfway through.
First, before I even went I was pretty upset over the needless destruction of so many 1958 Plymouths. The poor things rusted like crazy when new, so to scour the country for survivors and off twenty-three of them for a movie- any movie- goes way against my grain. But I decided to give the movie the benefit of the doubt.
I got through some of it. I think I started getting upset at the drive in scene- Arnie and Leigh are at the movies in the rain, and the wipers are going (wait- who actually watches the movie anyway?) and the left one sticks. Arnie gets out to unstick it and Christine locks the lock buttons and tries to kill Leigh. By strangling her. Not that Christine has any hands. Or any lock buttons either. Call it equal parts offputting and unrealistic.
Then Christine decides to extract revenge on a punk named Moochie, who was one of a gang of vandals that attacked and vandalized her. He's hitchhiking home and his ride drops him off by a lonely freeway overpass. He starts walking and suddenly out of the darkness four headlamps illuminate. After an inordinate amount of time standing in the middle of the road, Christine chases him into an industrial park, traps him at the entrance to a loading dock which is slightly narrower than herself (who has actually ever seen a loading dock narrower than a passenger car anyway- I ask you) and contorts herself in order to mow him down.
That's about where I left. I went out the back door of the theater. It was drizzling and I was reasonably freaked out. I was walking quickly toward my trusty Volkswagen GTI when, in the far corner of the parking lot, headlamps came on. I moved quickly to the VW, unlocked the door almost without stopping and jumped inside. I started the engine and turned on the wipers.
And the left one sticks.
At this point, I'm pretty much resigned to the fact that I won't be getting home alive. And I began to think about why the film upset me so much- I've always thought of cars as more than buckets of bolts, and that's why I've spent my life collecting and restoring them. I give them names. I rescue them from peril and find them caring homes. I guess I tend to think they absorb a little of the energy that went into making them - the craftsmanship and loving attention- in a positive way.- I'm practically an Auto Rights Advocate. Cars have always been my friends- not demonically possessed random killers. I think it was that depiction that I found so disturbing.
Somehow, I made it all the way into my driveway without being killed by an errant flock of '58 Plymouths and the whole thing slowly faded into the background, until recently Christine popped up on my Netflix recommended list. This embarrassed me for two reasons- first that I still use Netflix, and second that I had been so upset by the movie originally. I decided I better take another look- in the rear view mirror, as it were.
Perspective certainly changes in almost 30 years. Now I see Christine not as a demon, but more like a Mean Girl with tailfins. They certainly extract revenge when they feel wronged, don't they? And they're a bit on the touchy side, right? So she offed a few people- like the guy in the factory who dropped ashes on her seat- wouldn't Lindsay Lohan do the same thing? I mean, they had all done her harm, or at least thought about it, or in Arnie's case, he probably looked at her crossly at least once. Maybe Christine is no worse than Paris Hilton.
Okay, perhaps Paris Hilton never blew up a gasoline station and backed out, engulfed in flames, so that she could run over and kill someone who ticked her off. Maybe that's more Real Housewives of New Jersey. But you can see where I am coming from. Christine isn't that much different from any of us, really. Just a wee but more homocidal. Oh, and that whole immortal thing- whatever. I was cool with it.
But there was one thing that really irked me. And what upset me this time? The fact that they try to pass off Christine as a Fury. Sorry, folks- Christine is a Belvedere. Second banana. The top-of-the-line1958 Fury only came in Buckskin Beige, with gold anodized side trim and a gold grille, gold and white interior and even gold wheel centers. And I get that Stephen King wanted Christine to be a Fury for the word play, but that doesn't make her one. It just makes Stephen King a better fiction writer than he is a researcher.
So while I'm not likely to go out and buy a '58 Belvedere and pretend its a Fury when it's really a Belvedere and was NEVER a Fury to begin with, I'm not upset by the movie. Except for the fake Fury. I mean, everyone knows the difference between a Belvedere and a Fury, And I'd gladly watch that movie again, if I could just find a way to pretend it's really a Fury.
(Oh, and there's a really cool site about finding all the Christine cars in a junkyard here)