John Carpenter’s Christine is celebrating its 35th Anniversary this year, if you can believe it. Christine is a cult-classic and is beloved by a wide audience. Who doesn’t love a killer car? This film is undeniably “cool”. From the cars to the leather jacket and killer soundtrack this film is simply iconic.
In celebration of this milestone, we thought it was time to share a few facts you might not know about this amazing film.
5. The Film Started Production Before the Novel Was Published
In the early 1980s, Stephen King was a man in demand. Back in 1979, producer Richard Kobritz had helped bring King’s Salem’s Lot to the screen as a miniseries. Through working on the series, Kobritz and King had gotten to know each other pretty well and King would occasionally show Kobritz his manuscripts-in-progress. Christine was one such story. Kobritz was immediately drawn to the tale of the killer car and how it fit with American automobile nostalgia. Kobritz brought the story to John Carpenter and he signed on as director. The book was published in April 29, 1983 and the film followed 8 months later. If only the book to movie adaptation turn-around was just as fast now!
4. The Studio Actually Wanted the “R” Rating
From the start, the studio was determined to get Christine an “R” rating from the MPAA. But whereas more horror films up the ante using violence and gore, Christine chose not to get blood-happy. Instead, Carpenter has the writers throw in more profanities and crude language throughout the film, including a high volume of variations on the word “f**k”. In the end, the film got the R rating so desired by the studio, without venturing into the blood and gore that hurt The Thing‘s reception. Of course, the film was heavily criticized for its language.
3. Several Big 1980s Stars Were Originally Tied to the Film
Part of why I love Christine is the cast. The main characters feel very real. Keith Gordon’s portrayal of Arnie is that of a tragic figure, on par with Lon Chaney’s Wolf-Man. Surprisingly enough, there were a whole host of well-known actors tied to the film at one time or another. Scott Baio was wanted for the role of Arnie and Brooke Shields was considered for Leigh. Wanting to cast the film with unknown stars, Carpenter held auditions and the lead role of Arnie was eventually offered to…plot twist…Kevin Bacon. Bacon chose to star in Footloose instead, and the role was eventually given to Keith Gordon.
2. Keith Gordon Helped Design Arnie’s Possession
As the film progresses, Arnie’s appearance continually changes. At the beginning he has oversized clothes and taped up glasses, but by the end of the film Arnie is rocking deep reds and a leather jacket, personifying Christine. Apparently the filmmakers originally compiled a contemporary wardrobe for Arnie. However, Keith Gordon wanted to see Arnie’s physical appearance change as he falls deeper under Christine’s spell. As Arnie becomes darker and more deranged, so does his wardrobe. It adds a nice touch. It is interesting too that Arnie’s clothing begins to resemble a 1950s greaser, fitting the era that Christine is from.
1. Christine Was the Film’s Biggest Investment
Christine represents the embodiment of evil in the film and arguably, she is the main character. To bring Christine to the screen, over 20 automobiles (mostly Savoy and Belvedere models) were purchased to build 17 complete Furies. And man did these cars go through hell! Throughout the film Christine is beat with bats, lit on fire, and crammed into an alley that is definitely too small. The filmmakers put these cars through the ringer, and sadly only a few survived the film. Even more surprising when you take into consideration that that 15% of the films $10 Million budget went toward the killer cars.
And there you have it. 5 things you (hopefully) didn’t know about John Carpenter’s Christine. After 35 years, Christine remains a celebrated cult-classic, and my personal favorite Stephen King adaptation. It’s where rock’n’roll meets horror and it is bad to the bone. What’s your favorite thing about Christine? Let us know on Twitter, Reddit, and in the Horror Movie Fiend Club on Facebook!