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Literature: Christine

"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 novel by Stephen King that was also adapted into a feature film in the same year by John Carpenter. The basic premise is that Arnie Cunningham, 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 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.

Provides Examples Of:

  • Even Evil Has Standards: Buddy Repperton may be a bully, but he will not tolerate racist jokes
  • 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.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Arnie.
  • 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.
  • Homicide Machines
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: 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 Reperton 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 Ladys Favor: Before the final fight with Christine, Leigh gives a scarf to Dennis to wear around his arm.
  • 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: Christine is a Plymouth Fury.
  • Mythology Gag: After Darnell's death, Dennis talks to Jimmy Sykes, the sweep-up guy at Darnell's. Jimmy laments being out of a job, and mentions that maybe he can get a new one as a janitor at nearby Horlicks University because "this other janitor, he disappeared....ran off or somethin'." This is referring to Mike, the unlucky fellow who was eaten by the monster in Creepshow's "The Crate."
  • 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.
    • I always thought that Buddy looked more like John Travolta.
    • He also looks a bit like Jim Morrison.
    • The book describes Buddy as resembling Clint Eastwood.
  • Not Quite Dead: Christine. Ever.
  • Only Friend: Dennis is Arnie's only friend.
  • Post-Modern Magik: The haunted car is kind of an example.
  • Science Marches On: A crucial plot point is Leigh almost dying when she chokes on a hamburger in Christine because Arnie forgot about the Heimlich maneuver's existence and only gave her ineffective back blows, echoing an incident described earlier that involved Rita LeBay choking on a hamburger in Christine and dying when Roland LeBay gave her back blows because the Heimlich maneuver had not been invented yet. She is saved by the hitchhiker they picked up earlier, who gives her the Heimlich maneuver. Modern-day readers who are CPR certified will know that the care prescribed for a conscious choking victim involves a combination of back blows and abdominal thrusts.
  • Sealed Evil In A Car
  • 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.
  • Seemingly Wholesome Fifties Car
  • Sentient Vehicle: Christine.
  • Shout-Out: Arnie and Leigh go Christmas shopping at the Monroeville Mall.
  • Spared By Adaptation: Junkins
  • Split Personality Takeover
  • Sweater Girl: Leigh.
  • 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 Seventies / 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.
    • To be more exact the radio in the 70s plays nothing but hits from the 50s.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Arnie.
  • Vehicle Title
  • Vehicular Assault
  • Woman Scorned: ... Yes.
  • 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.

CellWorks By Stephen KingCujo
The ChoirLiterature of the 1980sChronicle of a Death Foretold
2001: A Space Odyssey 100 Scariest Movie MomentsSaw
A Christmas StoryFilms of the 1980sConquest
CellHorror LiteratureCity of Devils
Chopping MallHorror FilmsChristmas Evil

alternative title(s): Christine; Christine
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