Literature / Christine

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"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).
  • 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.
  • Car Meets House: Christine disposes of one victim this way.
  • Cool Car:
    • Why, Christine of course. Yes, she's evil through and through. So what? The 1958 Plymouth Fury, Autumn red.
    • The 1968 Charger Dennis drives in the film, and Buddy's Camaro. While the year is not mentioned in the book, the film's version is a 1968.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: An evil car vs a huge excavator? No contest.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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 Fifties: 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.
  • 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.

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