Literature / Christine
She was born bad. Plain and simple.

"She had the smell of a brand new car, and that's just about the finest smell in the world, except maybe for pussy."
Roland D. LeBay to Arnie Cunningham regarding the worst auto purchase in history. For both of them.

Christine is a 1983 horror novel by Stephen King.

The basic premise is that Arnie Cunningham, the most unpopular guy in a Pittsburgh area high school, buys his first car, much like any other teenager the world over. The problem is that his car — a 1958 Plymouth Fury — is extremely and psychotically in love with him. The novel details his transition from normal, if nerdy and unhappy, teenager into a somewhat popular greaser loner, and eventually into a lonely psychotic as the car and the ghost of the previous owner begin to exert an ever-increasing amount of control over him.

A film adaptation, directed by John Carpenter and starring Keith Gordon as Arnie, was released the same year the book was published.

Provides examples of:

  • Adapted Out: In the climax of the novel: Dennis and Leigh fight Christine with a pink tanker truck named Petunia which is personified similar to Christine. In the movie: She's replaced with a bulldozer.
  • Adults Are Useless: From the novel, played straight with Arnie's parents (domineering mother Regina is dead set against Arnie having Christine at all, refuses to listen to any rational reasoning, blames Dennis for "allowing" Arnie to buy the car, and in general has a my way or no way attitude; henpecked husband Michael offers little resistance) and averted with Dennis' parents (especially his father, who gradually becomes convinced that something is wrong with Arnie in regards to Christine; Dennis eventually tells him the full story, at the very end).
  • The Alleged Car: Christine when first Arnie finds her.
  • Artistic License Cars: In the book, Christine is referred to as a sedan, though this is more of a continuity/editing error as King originally intended Christine to be a sedan, but found out midway Chrysler only offered the Plymouth Fury as a two door hardtop in 1958, and several instances of the word sedan were missed. In the film, Christine is shown rolling off the assembly line painted Autumn Red; Plymouth Furys were only available in White or Gold in 1958 (this is not present in the book, as Christine is stated to have been custom painted Autumn Red after purchase). Christine is also stated in the novel to have a four on the floor transmission, when a three on the tree manual and the TorqueFlite automatic transmission were the only options (it's entirely possible this was another customisation).
  • Asshole Victim: Buddy Repperton and his gang, who bully Arnie (even drawing a knife on him), then later vandalize Christine, with one of them even going out of the way to shit on the dashboard, just because she belongs to Arnie. Nobody sheds many tears when Christine decides to get even.
  • Badass Driver: Arnie, as it is later revealed that he was driving Christine, at least part of the time after the car reveals its true power.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: An evil car vs a huge excavator? No contest.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Detective Junkins in the film.
  • Delinquents: Buddy Repperton and his gang.
  • Downer Ending: Arnie and his parents are dead, along with eight other people. Dennis has broken up with Leigh. And Dennis has just found out that CHRISTINE IS STILL OUT THERE.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: It's revealed in the epilogue that Dennis and Leigh didn't end up together.
  • Dying as Yourself: Arnie. Dennis has a dream of him appearing.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Buddy Repperton may be a bully, but he will not tolerate racist jokes.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto : During the last scene, we find out that Arnie and Regina are killed in a freak accident on the turnpike, during mild winter weather. Going no more than 45... And the Volvo explodes, somehow.
  • Feud Episode: First there was Christine. Leigh came later.
  • Finger Twitching Revival: Or, in this case, a chrome twitching revival.
  • Flashback: Dennis Guilder is writing the story down four years later.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom : Christine's headlamps are described this way in the novel, and appear as such in the film.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Roland LeBay. When every description of you includes the words "unending fury," you are made for this trope.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: Moochie Welch is cut in half between Christine's front bumper and a building in the movie.
  • He Cleans Up Nicely: Dennis notes how, after a few months under Christine's influence, Arnie's acne clears up and his posture and physique improve, revealing a pretty handsome guy under all the nerd luster.
  • Healing Factor: Christine has it. Up to the point of returning from a burned out wreck to mint condition within minutes. It seems to work while Christine is in motion with her odometer going in reverse as it happens. After Repperton and his gang trash her, Arnie only has to push her until she's repaired herself enough to start, then just drive around until Christine repairs completely.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Arnie and Dennis. A nerd and a jock.
  • Homicide Machines: Christine
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday / New Year Has Come: In the film, the final showdown occurs on New Year's Eve / Day.
  • I Die Free: Arnie died keeping Roland from possessing him. The film plays this differently, with Arnie's last act being to lovingly stroke her fender.
  • Infernal Retaliation: In the movie, Christine chases Buddy Repperton and one of his cronies to a gas station where they wanted to meet a third. She crashes into Buddy's Camaro, shoves it into the gas station, and causes it to explode in a spectacular fireball. Buddy manages to rescue himself and believes that Christine is destroyed in the flames. But she backs Out of the Inferno, burning all over, chases him down the road, and eventually runs over him, leaving his burning corpse lying on the asphalt.
  • The Lady's Favor: Before the final fight with Christine, Leigh gives a scarf to Dennis to wear around his arm, saying that she wants him to be her knight.
  • Lovable Jock: Although Dennis is far from perfect, he's generally a nice guy who's a friend and protector to Arnie.
  • Love at First Sight: Arnie and, yes, Christine. When Arnie first sees the car, Dennis describes him like this: "he had been like a man who meets a showgirl, indulges in a whirlwind courtship, and ends up with a hangover and a new wife on Monday morning. It had been... well... like love at first sight."
  • Meaningful Name: "Arnold Cunningham" is a combination of two names from the series Happy Days: "Arnold's," the kids' hangout, and "Cunningham," Richie's family's surname.
  • Mocking Music: In the movie, Christine's radio plays random songs, as her way to speak. One song that mentions a girl who is thin plays as she crushes Arnie's boss flat in her seat.
  • Mythology Gag: When Dennis is talking to Jimmy Sykes (the janitor at Darnell's), Jimmy mentions he's now out of a job, and can maybe get a janitor's position at nearby Horlicks University because "this other janitor, he disappeared, just ran off or something." The janitor Jimmy is talking about is Mike, the janitor eaten by "Fluffy" in "The Crate" (which was an original short story before being adapted for Creepshow).
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Christine is a Plymouth Fury.
  • Neck Snap: Dennis has a nasty accident during a football game, thanks to being distracted by Arnie and Leigh. Fortunately, it's not fatal, and he does eventually recover.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Buddy Reperton and Richie Trelawney look a lot like Mick Jagger and Keith Richards respectively which becomes particularly obvious in a scene where they are driving in a car, and "Beast of Burden" is playing on the radio.
  • Nothing but Hits: Christine's radio only plays popular music from the '50s.
  • Only Friend: Dennis is Arnie's only friend.
  • Secret Test of Character: A darker example. In the film George tests to see if Arnie is the right person to sell the car to by letting him try the car. It works.
  • Shout-Out: Arnie and Leigh go Christmas shopping at the Monroeville Mall.
  • Skewed Priorities: A sign of Christine's increasing control over Arnie is his caring more about her than the fact Leigh nearly choked while stuck inside her.
  • Soul Jar: LeBay turned Christine into this. Maybe. It's left ambiguous whether Christine was always powered by a malevolent will or if LeBay really did become one with her.
  • Spared By Adaptation:
    • In the book, Arnie's parents are killed by Christine. The film leaves this out.
    • Junkins.
  • Switching P.O.V.: The first part is narrated by Dennis, the second part is told by an omniscient third-person narrator and mostly focuses on Arnie, and the third part is narrated by Dennis again.
  • The End... Or Is It?: At the end, Dennis and Leigh are looking at the crushed cube that was once Christine. Then they hear some rock'n'roll... but it's actually a guy walking past with a boombox. Then the camera slowly zooms in on Christine... and there's a groan as part of her frame starts to move...
  • The One That Got Away: At one point, Will Darnell reminisces about his teenage sweetheart, Wanda Haskins. Darnell is a corrupt and cynical man, but he did love Wanda, and he thinks they would have married if her family didn't move away.
  • The '70s / The '50s: The novel is set in 1978-79, but Christine often turns time back to 1958 (the Nostalgic Fifties version), complete with Seemingly Wholesome '50s Girl and a radio that plays Nothing but Hits.
  • Those Two Guys: In the film, Chuck and Bemis, Dennis's friends. (Although they're only in a couple of scenes. No corresponding characters exist in the novel.)
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Anyone who was ever bullied can sympathize with Arnie. That is, until he veers away from Who's Laughing Now? to running down and battering innocent police detectives.
  • Yandere: Christine is clearly psychotically attached to Arnie (and vice versa). It's said she was like this towards her previous owner as well.