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While CHRISTINE ($30) has never been my favorite John Carpenter movie, this adaptation of the Stephen King novel about a demonic car still proves to be a creepy little thrill ride. Perhaps the reason CHRISTINE works as well as it does, may have less to do with Carpenter's direction, than it does with the film's lead performance. Keith Gordon is surprisingly good as the nerdy Arnie Cunningham, who undergoes an amazing transformation right after he purchases and begins restoring a 1957 Plymouth Fury named Christine. Overnight, Arnie changes from the textbook definition of nerd, into a scary tough guy with a rather strange obsession for his car.

At first, Arnie and the possessed car seem to feed off one another- he becomes cool after restoring Christine to showroom condition and she removes all the unpleasant obstacles from his life. Unfortunately, like any jealous female, Christine begins to want more and more from Arnie- separating him from the people in his life. Eventually, Christine begins to drain away Arnie's humanity, as she takes possession of his soul. The cast of CHRISTINE also includes John Stockwell, Alexandra Paul, Robert Prosky, Harry Dean Stanton, Christine Belford, Roberts Blossom, William Ostrander, and David Spielberg. Even though John Carpenter claims that CHRISTINE was nothing more than a paycheck for him, the director effectively sets up the action and ekes every bit of tension from the story.

Columbia TriStar Home Video has made CHRISTINE available on DVD in both wide screen and full screen presentations on opposite sides of the disc. Since John Carpenter is one of those director's that effectively make use of the full Panavision aspect ratio, watching the severely cropped full screen version is a complete waste of time. The 16:9 enhanced version of CHRISTINE restores the film's 2.35:1 theatrical framing and looks better than any previous home video edition of the film. Sure, there is some evidence of film grain, however sharpness and detail are excellent. Colors are faithfully rendered with natural looking flesh tones and strong saturation. Reds, which tend to be problematic on video, are flawlessly recreated on this DVD without any chroma noise or distortion. Blacks are velvety, while the contrast is incredibly smooth. Digital compression artifacts couldn't be readily detected.

The Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack purports to being in surround, however I couldn't detect much activity in the surround channels. However, there is definite channel separation across the forward soundstage. Additionally, dialogue reproduction is very clean and John Carpenter's musical score sounds quite good. Spanish and Portuguese language soundtrack are also encoded onto the DVD, as are English, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean and Thai subtitles. The interactive menus contain a tiny bit of animation and sound, but are otherwise quite basic. Through the menus one can access the standard scene and language selection features, plus brief cast biographies/filmographies.


Christine (1983)


DVD reviews are Copyright 1999 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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