Christine (1983) Poster



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According to Bill Phillips on the DVD Documentary, the movie technically didn't have enough violence to justify an "R" rating. But they were afraid that if the movie went out with a PG rating (PG-13 didn't exist yet) nobody would go to see it. So he purposely inserted the word "fuck" and its derivatives in order to get the "R" rating. He then recalls that they were criticized at the time for their use of the word.
When Christine hunts down the members of Buddy Repperton's gang, her windows are blacked out. This is presumably to give Christine a "sinister" appearance, but also, more practically, to conceal the stunt driver. However, this reportedly made it difficult for the driver to see, since these scenes were all filmed at night.
Stephen King's popularity was such at the time that the film went into production before the book was even published.
As a joke, Alexandra Paul's twin sister, Caroline Paul, stood in for her during some scenes, most notably the ride on the bulldozer.
To simulate the car regenerating itself, hydraulic pumps were installed on the inside of some of the film's numerous Plymouth Fury "stunt doubles", a mock-up in plastic that looked more like metal on camera than actual metal as it bent and deformed. These pumps were attached to cables, which were in turn attached to the cars' bodywork and when they compressed, they would "suck" the paneling inwards. Footage of the inward crumpling body was then reversed, giving the appearance of the car spontaneously retaking form.
According to Keith Gordon on the DVD Commentary, he kept having trouble with Christine's TorqueFlite automatic transmission control. The 1958 Plymouths (along with all other Chrysler products that year) used push buttons to select "Reverse," "Neutral," "Drive," etc. (The buttons can be seen in some shots located near the steering column but are never seen being pushed in the film.) He says that it would routinely take several tries to put the transmission in gear. In a few instances, filming would be delayed so that a technician could repair the selector buttons, and even then he'd still have trouble with it.
The opening scene, which shows Christine being "born" in Detroit, was added in for the movie; it was used to explain the origin of Christine's evil nature, which had been changed from the original Stephen King novel.
Kevin Bacon was offered the lead role but ended up choosing Footloose (1984) instead.
Keith Gordon (who plays Arnie) says on a DVD extra that he pretended the car was a woman, so wherever he touched the car, he imagined which part of a woman the car was.
Richard Kobritz, who had produced the film version of Stephen King's novel Salem's Lot (1979), was given some new unpublished manuscripts from King to consider for their next film adaptation. One was Christine (1983) and the other was Cujo (1983). Korbitz chose Christine because he thought Cujo was too silly.
Stephen King suffered a near fatal car collision in 1999. In an example of life imitating art, King hoped to bash the van with a baseball bat or a pickax once he healed. Unfortunately, his lawyer had bought the van and sent it to be demolished before he got the chance to do this.
At the climax, Christine is clearly seen with a crumpled hood which resembles "teeth". After the initial confrontation with Dennis and the bulldozer, but before withdrawing into the shadows to reconstitute.
Arnie's nemesis, Det. Rudolph Junkins, also drives a Plymouth Fury, most noticeable when he questions Arnie in the school parking lot. Junkins' car appears to be a 1977 or 1978 Plymouth Fury - a popular police car of the late 1970s.
In the scenes where Christine is "autonomous", a green hue is prominent to indicate her "sentience". This is also visible in Maximum Overdrive (1986) in the scene where a green hue is seen in the night sky. Both are works of Stephen King.
Screenwriter Bill Phillips and rocker George Thorogood filmed a cameo appearance as the junkyard workers who compress Christine and dropped the cube at the end; the sequence was cut because neither could act very well (as Phillips states in the documentary). It was also Phillips who suggested that they use George Thorogood's "Bad To The Bone" as the movie's theme song.
Scott Baio was considered to play Arnie Cunningham and Brooke Shields was considered for Leigh Cabot. But the film makers involved all felt the movie would be better served by casting "unknowns".
According to Bill Phillips in the DVD Documentary, Robert Prosky (Will Darnell) asked Phillips to give him more dialog to make his character more interesting. Prosky cited the scene in the novel where Darnell offers Arnie a job, particularly the line "You can pick up around the place. Do a few lubes. And put the toilet paper on the spools...". So Phillips added the scene to the script, keeping the dialogue almost verbatim from the novel.
Special Edition DVD contains 20 deleted, extended, or alternate scenes:
  • A brief scene of Arnie and Dennis driving to school, in which Arnie recites a dirty limerick

  • Alternate scene of Arnie being bullied by Repperton and his gang

  • Arnie driving to Darnell's in a junked out Christine

  • Arnie breaking down in anger in Dennis's car

  • Darnell and a friend talking to Arnie while he is fixing up Christine

  • Extended scene of Arnie's first visit to Dennis at the hospital

  • Extended scene of bullies trashing Christine, including Moochie defecating on the dashboard

  • Extended scene of Arnie and Leigh walking into Darnell's before discovering Christine

  • A scene in which a distraught Leigh visits Dennis in the hospital

  • Brief scene of Arnie's mother looking in on him while he is sleeping

  • Extended scene of Arnie's second visit to Dennis in the hospital

  • Alternate scene of Det. Junkins questioning Arnie in the school parking lot

  • Brief scene of Leigh telling Arnie over the phone that she can't see him any more

  • Brief scene of the gas station bully being crushed by a car, explaining his death rather than the implied death of being immolated in the gas station fire seen in the wide release

  • Extended scene of Det. Junkins questioning Arnie at Darnell's after Darnell's death

  • Alternate scene of Leigh calling Dennis

  • Extended scene of Leigh visiting Dennis at his house

  • Alternate scene of Arnie and Dennis driving in Christine, in which Arnie is speeding and drinking alcohol

  • A scene of Leigh and Dennis kissing in Dennis' car, and Arnie pulls up behind them and catches them

  • Extended scene of Dennis and Leigh waiting in the bulldozer for Christine to arrive

The following deleted scene is not included in the DVD, but is mentioned by screenwriter Bill Phillips during the featurettes:
The license plate of Christine reads begins with "CQB" which is an acronym for "Close Quarters Battle".
Christine is said to be a 1958 Plymouth Fury, which had similar panels and trim to the 1957 model. When the Fury line was introduced, it was essentially a sport and trim package on the Belvedere - notably with two doors, gold anodized trim, gold grille and dual four-barrel carburetors. Christine, as shown in the movie, could have been any two door Belvedere with a 318 or 350 engine. Although over 5300 Furys - and far more Belvederes - were built in 1958, they have since become very rare and are now collector's items. There were between 13 and 16 (depending on source) Belvederes/Furys smashed in the making of the movie (out of the roughly 25 used), but it is unknown whether they were 1957 or 1958 models, or a combination. In any event, Plymouth enthusiasts were infuriated, although the movie popularized the car and probably saved many of them - in the same way that Back to the Future (1985) did for the DeLorean. In the original Stephen King book, the car had four doors, but this was changed to a two-door model when it was realized that there never was a four-door 1958 Plymouth Fury. Although all 1958 Plymouth Furys had Buckskin Beige exterior paint and gold anodized aluminum side trim and grille, the book mentions that this particular car was custom ordered in Ford red.
The killer car Christine made a cameo appearence in two scenes of Little Shop Of Horrors (1986). It first appears as one of the cars being driven in the background during the song "Da Doo" right when the total eclipse of the sun occurs. The second time it appears, it is driving along with traffic right when Orin Scrivello D.D.S. (Steve Martin) pulls up on his motorcycle during the "Dentist" number.
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The movie playing at the drive-in scene is Thank God It's Friday (1978).
Det. Junkins, Arnie, and Dennis all drive Mopars. An acronym for Chrysler's "MOtorPARts". Chrysler Corporation (now FCA Automobiles since October 2014) used the term Mopar since the 1920s but became a brand since 1937 - it has became the default term for any Chrysler Corporation (FCA Automobiles) product (Chrysler, Dodge, Plymouth, DeSoto, Imperial (considered as the original core divisions inclusive of Jeeps, Fiats, and Eagles (Chrysler Corporation absorbed the former American Motors Corporation (AMC/Jeep) after Renault divested its shares where the Jeep/Eagle Division was formed after the AMC buyout, not to mention Fiat (which in 2009 invested a 20% share with the Chrysler Group LLC that evolved into the modern day FCA Automobiles).
The possible origin of the killer car's name could possibly be from Christine (1958), another movie called Christine which was made in 1958, around the same time the Plymouth Fury was made.
According to the filmmakers in the DVD documentary, 28 Plymouth Furys were purchased and restored for the film. A few were "showcase" cars that were used whenever Christine is just sitting there "looking pretty" or whenever Arnie is driving her. There were "hot rod" versions with souped up engines and airplane landing lights for the headlights for Christine's rampages. And there were "junked" and "shell" cars for the versions of Christine in disrepair or for her "death" scene. There is one way to tell which cars are the showcase-hot rod cars and the stunt cars: If you look at the under grill beneath Christine's front bumper, the showcase cars have a chrome under grill while the stunt cars have a red painted under grill.
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In the book, Arnie and Dennis worked on a construction crew over the summer. This is how Arnie saved up enough money to buy Christine and explains how Dennis knows how to drive the bulldozer. Actually, the book's finale does not feature a bulldozer but a pink semi truck named Petunia. Stephen King's idea for the final battle was two powerful "ladies" duking it out.
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Loosely based on a Twilight Zone episode entitled "The Whole Truth".
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For the French language dub version, John Stockwell's voice was dubbed by Lambert Wilson.
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The characters Arnold (Arnie) Cunningham and Roland Lebay first names contain exactly the same letters.
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Christine makes a cameo in another Stephen King movie: "The Cat's Eye." FYI: "Cujo" also makes a cameo, in the same scene running in front of Christine while chasing 'General' the cat.
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The movie is set in 1978. Keith Gordon, who plays Arnie, was 17 in that year when he starred in Jaws 2 (1978).
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The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

After reading over the book, actor Keith Gordon (Arnie) and the costume designer came up with a visual way to show Arnie being possessed by Christine. As the movie progresses, Arnie begins to wear clothes that reflect the era of Christine's make. At various points, especially when Arnie is yelling at Leigh on the phone, Arnie is seen wearing button up shirts open with black t-shirts, black pants, and boots like a 1950's "greaser". When he's talking to Junkins (both times), he's wearing a leather vest over a button up shirt (a nod to western TV shows which were popular in the 50's), and he even starts to wear a red suede jacket like James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause (1955).
One of the stunt Furys used in the film - the one that runs over and kills Moochie - had a rubber front end. The car was destined for the salvage yard and has been restored using parts from the other "stunt" vehicles. The vehicle is now in private hands.
Among the many subplots in the book that didn't make it to film or were changed:
  • Roland LeBay himself sells the car to Arnie, but dies soon after

  • Will Darnell using the garage as a front for his smuggling business

  • Arnie getting arrested while smuggling cigarettes for Darnell

  • Darnell, who gets arrested on income tax evasion, is killed by Christine after it's implied he'll cut a deal with prosecutors to tell what he knows about the car

  • The romance between Leigh and Dennis is almost entirely removed

  • Det. Junkins is killed by Christine near the end

  • In the book, Christine is vandalized at an airport. Sandy Galton, an airport worker and a friend of Buddy Repperton's, serves as a lookout when Christine is vandalized. He soon skips town and at the very end is found to have been run over by a car, implying that Christine is alive again.

When Arnie first brings Christine to Darnell's Garage, he walks back to Dennis' car and asks him to honk his horn. In the background, the bulldozer that will be used to destroy Christine can be seen.
In the DVD Documentary, Bill Phillips says that he cut out the novel's plot line of the dead owner's spirit possessing Arnie and actually causing Christine to kill not only to save time and compress the story, but also because he didn't want it to look like they were copying An American Werewolf in London (1981) where Jack does the same thing to David.

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