For my Smart Money, "Christine" is one of John Carpenter's most underrated efforts (up there with "Assault on Precinct 13"), and also one of his most effective. Even though its modest look and relative restraint in gore came as a result of "The Thing"'s box-office failure the previous year, and Carpenter has all but admitted his heart wasn't in the project, it ultimately turned out VERY well (if this is an effort from a sleepwalking Carpenter, he's better than most directors when they're awake). As someone who was knocked out by Rob Bottin's intricately gruesome FX work in "The Thing," but left cold by the shallow characters, "Christine" fills in the gaps of suspense and human story with ease. In retrospect, some of the absurd plot elements ("a haunted car," as Carpenter constantly reiterates) lends the film an odd humor that doesn't detract from things (and indeed, it was Stephen King's own infatuation with cars and rock music that inspired this story of obsession). Scenes are composed with great skill by Carpenter (making wonderful use of the widescreen image), and there are many striking images sprinkled throughout (the most incredible being the flaming Christine speeding after a villain). The excellent cast gives their all in making a potential B-movie premise glow with A-list polish: Keith Gordon's Arnie (the painfully square high-school senior who buys the titular vehicle), John Stockwell's Dennis (the resourceful jock and best friend), Alexandra Paul's Leigh (the earthy girlfriend who sparks Christine's jealousy), and Harry Dean Stanton's Junkins (the snooping P.I.) provide this tale with a lot of propulsive force. In a sense, "Christine" is a nice even ground between the zaniness of "Escape from New York" and the FX extremes of "The Thing," and exemplifies Carpenter's range as a director. A very underrated effort that is very much worth your time.