Christine (1983)


Okay … Show Me.

I feel sad as the October Horrorthon is coming to a close.  There are so many more movies I wish I had reviewed!  Well, I did what I could.  And we still have a couple more for you, or at least as many as I can within October.  Today’s movie is both a classic movie and a request from my friend Christie Mallomarchipotle.  It’s also a movie that I’ve never gotten around to seeing even though I’ve heard so much about it.  But, unlike other movies like that, I’ve never heard so much about this movie that it would ruin the ending.  It’s exciting, I know.  All I really know about this movie is that it’s about a car that kills people, and that Christie is an egomaniac for requesting a movie that shares her name.  That movie is Christine, based on a book by Stephen King, written for the screen by Bill Phillips, directed by John Carpenter, and starring Keith Gordon, John Stockwell, Alexandra Paul, William Ostrander, Robert Prosky, Christine Belford, Harry Dean Stanton, and Roberts Blossom.

Arnold “Arnie” Cunningham (Keith Gordon) is the nerdy friend of popular jock Dennis Guilder (John Stockwell).  His parents are douche nozzles and he is also bullied by another high schooler who is way too buff and old looking to be a high school student named Buddy Repperton (William Ostrander).  On their way home one day, Arnie and Dennis come across a beat up 1958 Plymouth Fury belonging to George LeBay (Roberts Blossom).  Arnie falls in love with the car despite Dennis’ disgust in its condition and he buys the car for $250.  Arnie starts to get obsessed with the car (that he finds is called “Christine”), and spends all his time fixing it.  It even starts to affect him as a person, making him quicker to anger with his friends and family and turning him into Peter Parker from Spiderman 3.  Dennis gets concerned for his friend so he goes to talk to George and he finds out that George’s brother, Roland, died in the car from carbon monoxide poisoning after his young daughter had died in the car.  Maybe there’s more to this car than there seems to be…

Finally!  A classic horror movie that lives up to the expectations I barely had for it!  I kind of dug Christine.  It’s not the most spellbinding story ever, but it’s imaginative.  I don’t think I’ve seen very many movies about a car that tries to kill people.  Just that one episode of Futurama.  The biggest qualm I had with the story of the movie is that it never really bothered to explain what made Christine supernatural.  Are we to believe that what made it evil is that it was the only red car in its production line?  Apparently, the book blames it on the death of Roland LeBay, but the movie makes the car evil before it has even left the assembly line, crushing a dude’s hand and killing a guy that sits in it with no explanation about how that happened.  After that, the only other thing that confused me was in the fight with the bully in the beginning of the movie.  During the fight, one of Buddy’s goons participates in the fight by grabbing a heaping handful of Dennis’ dick.  Was that considered a thing back in the day?  ‘Cause if I lost a fight like that, I would be calling that kid a queer.  “I wouldn’t say I lost a fight so much as I turned down your request for a date, bro.  That’s a little aggressive for me.”

I’d say what kept me going with the movie was mostly the direction.  John Carpenter makes some cool movies, and this is another one.  A lot of the things that the car did were pretty cool ways to kill people with a car.  They actually didn’t do much for the easy technique of running someone over, or if they did, they amped it up.  When they did run someone over, it was after Christine just pushed another car into one guy, got completely doused with gasoline, and chased the guy down while completely on fire.  Otherwise, they were all pretty interesting ways to do it.  The one that I took the most issue with was the lame look of killing the shopkeeper by pressing the chair too hard against the steering wheel.  That was more goofy than anything else.  I also liked how well they did the look of making a broken down Christine put herself back together, making the dents pop out like someone was blowing into her tailpipe.  …That sounds dirty.  I meant like a balloon.  The music was a bit of a problem for me, but it usually is in 80’s movies.  The basic score of the movie was just music that sounded like the same music Carpenter used in Escape from New York, so I didn’t really have a problem with that.  The music I did take issue with was the music that Christine would play.  It felt like they could’ve put a little more effort behind picking the songs that Christine would play on the radio to indicate what Christine was trying to say.  There were a couple of occasions where it made sense to me, like when Dennis was trying to break into Christine and she started playing “Keep A-Knockin’ (but You Can’t Come in)”, but I really don’t understand playing “Little Bitty Pretty One” while Christine was trying to run down the fat kid.

None of the performances really impressed in any significant way, but none of them really did poorly either.  Keith Gordon’s character in this movie was definitely what Tobey McGuire based that abortion that he portrayed while walking down the street in Spiderman 3.  He starts off nerdy and nice, but turns into an overly cocky swaggering prick pretty quickly when Christine gets involved.  And he was putting the stupid car over his hot girlfriend that was dying to give him the pussy, but felt neglected because he paid more attention to the car.  That is crazy to me.  Maybe she’d feel less intimidated by it if you would start referring to it just as “your car” and “it” rather than “Christine” and “she”.  And why did he never find it strange that his car got jealous and he had to sweet talk the thing to get it to start?  That would put a little question mark over my head, to be sure.

I was happy to find that Christine was a good movie.  I’ve been underwhelmed by so many classic horror movies lately that it was good to have one live up to my expectations.  The story was imaginative though not mind-blowing, but it was interesting throughout because John Carpenter brings it.  He made the movie visually interesting, and actually found mostly interesting ways to have a car kill people.  The performances bordered on over the top on occasion, but mostly were fine.  I recommend Christine for a watch, especially if you haven’t already seen it.  It holds up, and it’s a movie that’s talked about enough that everyone should know it.  Christine gets “That’s just about the finest smell in the world, ‘cept maybe for pussy” out of “Good!  Now, get the hell out of here.  We’re closed.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook and Twitter.  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

The Quick and the Dead (1995)


We Both Have Guns.  We Aim, We Fire, You Die.

Westerns are some of my favorite movies, so including it as a category in my contest was a given.  What wasn’t a given was which movie it would be.  Being a fan of the genre, it could have been any number of movies.  I’ve already reviewed True Grit, so that was out.  I really like the Unforgiven, but it’s a little too slow for my tastes so I don’t think it’d make it as my favorite.  It could’ve been any number of Sergio Leone and/or Clint Eastwood movies, but I don’t have that much love for older movies.  That being the case, one western movie caught my attention, so I picked it.  Going into it, I remember being very fond of this movie, but wasn’t sure how well my memory holds up.  So I’m throwing the dice and hoping that I was right in thinking I really liked the Quick and the Dead, written by Simon Moore, directed by Sam Raimi, and starring Sharon Stone, Gene Hackman, Russell Crowe, Leonardo DiCaprio, Roberts Blossom, Gary Sinise, Kevin Conway, Keith David, Lance Henriksen, Mark Boone Junior, Tobin Bell, Jonothon Gill, Lennie Loftin, Sven-Ole Thorsen, Josef Rainer, Pat Hingle, Raynor Scheine, and Olivia Burnette.

A lady named Ellen, but referred to almost exclusively as “The Lady” (Sharon Stone), rides into the town of Redemption, where a single elimination quick draw contest is about to start.  The town is run by the ruthless John Herod (Gene Hackman) and the Lady enters the contest shortly after Herod does, and shortly after saving the life of a reverend named Cort (Russell Crowe) who used to ride with Herod.  Then she gets drunk and sleeps with another contestant, Herod’s son “The Kid” (Leonardo DiCaprio).  As the contest movies along, the Lady is revealed to have a deep hatred for Herod, but we find out why slowly.  Will the Lady be fast enough to kill Herod?

Hey!  I was right!  I still really liked this movie.  It’s just badass.  The action is well realized, the directing is great, and the story was very involving.  At first, the movie makes itself seem like it has a pretty obvious story, being all about the quick draw contest.  It would be interesting enough with this, but wouldn’t be anything special.  It’s not until the Lady’s motivations of revenge bubbles up that I started getting more invested in the movie, but it works very well.  She’s definitely got a really good reason for hating Herod, and when it’s finally shown in its entirety, it’s such a horrible thing that happened to her that you can’t wait for her to kill this dude.  Not that he had made himself seem like a likeable character at any point in the movie as everyone hates him, but even he has some decent reasoning for the way he is.  Cort also has a pretty great back story.  As a matter of fact, a lot of the characters in the contest are given enough story that they’re mostly not just bullet fodder.  I would say that one thing didn’t make sense about the story.  If everyone in the town knew how fast and deadly Herod was, why would any of them join the contest?  Cort didn’t have a choice, the Lady had revenge on her mind, and the Kid wanted to earn his father’s respect, but all of the other people should’ve known better.  The dialogue in this movie was also very crisp and most of the characters had a nice snappy line prepared for any old situation.

All of the action in this movie worked very well for me.  Some people might think quick draw shootouts move a little slow, but I appreciate them so long as they build up the tension well leading up to the draw.  And Raimi does it very well, using a lot of quick cuts, close ups on the faces of the contestants, and quick zooms on the clock that will set things in motion.  He also uses the montage a lot, but not in an annoying way.  It just works for getting the lesser contestants taken care of quickly so we don’t waste too much time.  And one of them was the people preparing for the contest, using various period-correct ways of loading their weapons, which would seem to be pretty boring, but I was interested by it.  He also uses shadows and lighting very well, like the part where it showed a guy had gotten shot clean through by having his shadow have a hole in the chest.  There was also a part where a character got his head canoed by a bullet that is one of the coolest and most memorable moments in the movie.  Even with my dim recollection of the movie, I remembered that part before I started watching.

The greater majority of the performances in this movie were just fantastic.  Sharon Stone sets herself up as a badass quick, fast, and in a hurry.  She’s got this gruff, abrasive exterior at all times, but sometimes shows that underneath she’s out of her element and frightened.  I thought this worked excellently for a character, starting her off as the classic, fearless protagonist, but then humanizing her.  Of course, at the very end of the movie she is just straight up badass.  She was almost scary when it came time for the climax of the movie.  Gene Hackman was almost always intimidating.  He played it as almost nice on the surface, but if he was even slightly crossed he turned very intimidating.  He even cracks that intimidating façade slightly when something actually happens that he seems to regret.  He’s mostly holding it back, but you can kind of see a hint of it.  I really liked Russell Crowe’s character in this movie.  He was always made out to be this epic badass and stone cold killer, but he had denounced violence and claimed he wouldn’t pick it up again.  When he did, it was great.  He has a little scene near the end of the movie where he takes out something like six guys in a very short amount of time and it was fantastic.  I liked Leonardo DiCaprio too.  He always had this cocky little twerp attitude, but it was clearly covering up some serious low self-esteem issues that had been beaten into him by his father.  He also performs it very well around the time when he’s going to face his father in the contest where he gets very serious for the first time, and has a very well-acted emotional scene shortly after.

The Quick and the Dead may not accurately be considered my favorite western movie, but I think it’s up there.  It’s a lot of good action, a very engaging story, and some pretty top notch performances to back it all up.  I’ve liked Sam Raimi as a director for a while, and he seems to fit into the western genre very nicely.  It’s not the most groundbreaking movie, but it’s pretty awesome.  Check this movie out.  The Quick and the Dead gets “Me and Jesse James think it’s the best handgun in the world” out of “Is it possible to improve on perfection?”

Congratulations again goes to Chris for guessing today’s movie and winning his third DVD in this contest.  A more paranoid man would begin to think that he’s got cameras in my bedroom and can see the stack of DVDs waiting to be reviewed, but I think I’ll just assume that he’s madly in love with me.

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.