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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.
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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.


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Provides examples of:

  • 1-Dimensional Thinking: Buddy never thinks to run sideways out of Christine's path when she starts chasing him while on fire down the road.
  • Abusive Parents: Arnie's parents are the emotional type, as they are Control Freaks (his mother far more so than his father).
  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole: Christine is painted Autumn Red, despite 1958 Plymouth Furies only coming in white or gold. In the book, it's said that she was custom painted. In the film, she's shown coming off the assembly line in that colour. Considering that the car starts off possessed in the film, and she's the only red Fury to be seen on the entire assembly line, it's possible that she 'repaired' her paint job to red while rolling down the line.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Keith Gordon's Arnie is not nearly as unattractive as Arnie is described in the novel. For only one thing, Book!Arnie is said to have a face covered with acne, but there's not a single pimple to be seen on Movie!Arnie's mug. At worst, Movie!Arnie is your standard slightly undersized wimpy nerd, but once he loses the glasses, he's not bad-lookinginvoked.
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  • Adaptational Deviation: Various differences, one of the most memorable is Christine's way of killing Darnell (smashing through his house in the book, crushing him in her seat in the movie).
  • Adaptational Jerkass: George LeBay in the film, due to being a Composite Character with his brother. In the novel, he has some idea of Christine's nature and rightly thinks Arnie should try to get rid of the car for his own good; in the film, he's the one who sells Christine to Arnie, and has novel-Roland's unpleasant personal affectations.
  • Adaptation Relationship Overhaul: Dennis's short-lived book girlfriend Roseanne is implied to just be a girl with a crush on him in the movie.
  • 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 crawler loader.
    • Buddy's acquaintances Sandy Galton and Bobby Stanton aren't included.
    • Detective Junkins partner Mercer is cut out.
    • Dennis's parents and sister don't appear.
  • 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.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: Roseanne likes Dennis, who becomes interested in new girl Leigh, who begins dating his best friend Arnie, who becomes obsessed with his car, Christine.
  • Ambiguous Ending: It's left unknown whether Christine is defeated for good or if she'll rebuild herself, but it's implied the latter will happen given part of her cube moves at the end.
  • AM/FM Characterization:
    • Christine literally talks through her radio by playing appropriate songs from The '50s. This works particularly well in the film: If someone tries to open one of her doors when it's locked, she plays "Keep A-Knockin'" by Little Richard. Just before going after Moochie, she plays "Little Bitty Pretty One" by Thurston Harris in a rather taunting way like she's saying "I'm back." She mourns Arnie's death with "Pledging My Love" by Johnny Ace. And when Dennis tries to crush her with the loader, she flaunts her (maybe not so much) alleged invincibility by blasting "Rock & Roll Is Here To Stay" by Danny & The Juniors.
    • Buddy Repperton and Richie Trelawney take this to another new dimension. Shortly before being killed by Christine, they drive around in Buddy's Camaro while listening to "Beast Of Burden" by The Rolling Stones. If you haven't noticed yet that they look a lot like Mick Jagger (Buddy) and Keith Richards (Richie), then you will. Maybe, just maybe Christine also holds a grudge against rock music displacing her beloved Rock & Roll.
  • An Ass-Kicking Christmas: The third act (and the majority of the murders) takes place over several days of early December.
  • Animate Inanimate Object: The eponymous Christine is a sentient, murderous car.
  • 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. Also, there are Arnie's Abusive Parents (except in the movie though).
  • Attack of the Killer Whatever: Attack of the killer car.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: A sibling version. Regina Cunningham finds herself confiding in her sister Vicky as Arnie's troubles pile up, with Vicky only being supportive even though Regina has been pretty condescending to her sister (for the Boring, but Practical career choices of Vicky, her husband and their children). Receiving this compassion makes Regina realize her sister would be warranted withholding it, feel guiltier for her past behavior and strive to become closer.
  • Babies Ever After: The book mentions that Leigh and the guy she ended up marrying have twin daughters.
  • Bad Dreams: From the first day he sees it, Dennis Guilder is plagued by nightmares about Christine. Leigh Cabot and George LeBay get them, too.
  • Badass Boast: Christine manages to get out an epic one without being able to speak. Dennis is attempting to crush her to death under the treads of a crawler loader? Her radio starts blaring out a taunting rendition of "Rock and Roll Is Here To Stay."
  • 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.
  • Betty and Veronica: Roseanne is the Betty in comparison to the Veronica new girl Leigh who catches the attention of the Archie, Dennis.
    • Also, Dennis and Arnie over Leigh.
    • And eventually, Leigh and Christine over Arnie.
  • Big Bad: Christine is the source of all of the major problems in the story, as a killer car.
  • Black Dude Dies First: In the movie, at least, the assembly line worker who is Christine's first victim in the very opening.
  • Borrowed Catch Phrase: Arnie starts using the word "shitter", which is something LeBay used to say.
  • The Bro Code: Dennis' violation does not go unpunished.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: In the book, George LeBay does tell Dennis quite a bit about the car after the funeral but is unable to bring himself to reveal everything that he believes about it until a later conversation when Dennis tells him how it's been doing strange things, partially because he knows how insane it sounds.
  • Car Fu: The climax is Leigh and Dennis versus Christine, using a pink septic tanker truck.
  • Car Meets House: Christine disposes of one victim this way.
  • The Cheerleader /Pom-Pom Girl: Minor character Roseanne, who is flirty and (at least compared to Leigh) not too intelligent, but not necessarily mean either. In the book, Dennis doesn't even always think of her by name, just as "the cheerleader". She does seem to be energetic and engaged while cheering on the football game in one scene of the movie.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Take a guess.
  • Composite Character: A couple of strange examples in the film. In the book, Roland sells Arnie the car, wears an old back brace, uses the word "shitter," and has a creepy personality as well as a younger brother named George who turns out to be a very kind-hearted man and tells Dennis about the car's dark history including the fact that Roland never cared about anything other than the car. Roland's wife asphyxiated herself inside it by running a hose from the exhaust pipe into the window, although it's heavily implied that Roland actually set it up to look like a suicide and killed her himself. In the film, the creepy, "shitter"-saying, back brace-wearing man who sells Arnie the car is named George, who says he had a brother (who goes unnamed) who owned the car, cared about nothing but the car, and asphyxiated himself inside it by running a hose from the exhaust pipe into the window. So in the film, George is sort of 80% Roland and 20% George, while his mysterious unnamed brother is 50% Roland and 50% Roland's wife.
  • 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.
    • It's easy to miss since Christine is such a show-stealer, but Detective Junkins in the film also drives a Plymouth Fury. Truth in Television - late-'70s Furies were popular with police.
  • Cool Kid-and-Loser Friendship: Dennis and Arnie. Dennis is the jock, Big Man on Campus and regarded as a cool kid. Arnie is the stereotypical nerd.
  • Country Matters: Buddy calls Arnie "Cuntface".
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: An evil car vs. a huge crawler loader? No contest.
  • Cycle of Revenge: Buddy picks on Arnie, Arnie retaliates against Buddy. Buddy pulls a knife on Arnie, which gets Buddy expelled. Buddy blames Arnie and utterly trashes his car. Car regenerates itself and turns Buddy and his pals into "a scattered bundle of rags ... ripped open like a laundry bag".
  • Deadpan Snarker: Detective Junkins in the film.
  • Delinquents: Buddy Repperton and his gang.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: It's revealed in the epilogue that Dennis and Leigh didn't end up together.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: In the film, a factory worker sits down behind Christine's wheel while she's still on the assembly line, but already with a full interior. He accidentally drops cigarette ashes on her brand-new front seat which was covered with a protective cover. She promptly kills him for it.
  • 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.
  • Dragon Ascendant: Buddy was originally the second-in-command of his gang of bullies until their original leader, Roger Gilman, was arrested for armed robbery.
  • Driven to Suicide: LeBay's wife committed suicide in the car after the death of her daughter...or did she?
  • Drives Like Crazy: Christine not only drives like crazy, but specifically to hurt or kill people.
  • 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.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Arnie adopts a crew cut during the time LeBay is possessing him.
  • 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.
  • Freudian Excuse: Regina Cunningham's childhood and parents were orders of magnitude worse than Arnie's, and the habits she developed to survive them made her a bully to her husband and son as an adult. Since this had results that she considered positive for them (Arnie's excellence in school, etc.), she thought this was a good thing. It was only after she'd already thoroughly botched the Christine situation that she realized how maladaptive it really was.
  • From a Single Cell: Well, from a single lugnut anyway. At the end Dennis and Leigh smash the shit out of Christine with a tanker truck, and the remains are put through a car crusher. One of the junkyard workers later insists that a piece of the car bit him, and the epilogue implies that four years later Christine has regenerated and is coming for Dennis.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Arnie starts out a harmless nerd, but Christine corrupts him into a maniac.
  • 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.
  • High School Hustler: Sandy Galton's brother is a variant, being mentioned as the high school pot dealer.
  • Homicide Machines: Christine
  • Hope Spot: Arnie's dad seems to partially break through Christine's hold on him, and the feud between him and his mother, by getting a garage to keep the car at. Then Buddy and his gang vandalize Christine at the garage and both boy and car go over the deep end, while somewhat blaming Mr. Cunningham for Christine being at the garage in the first place.
  • 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 LeBay from possessing him. The film plays this differently, with Arnie's last act being to lovingly stroke Christine's fender.
  • Infant Immortality: Averted. LeBay's young daughter choked to death in the backseat of Christine.
  • Infernal Retaliation: In the movie, Christine chases Buddy Repperton and Richie Trelawney 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 by igniting the spilled gasoline. 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 flaming corpse lying on the asphalt.
  • Innocent Bystander: Bobby Stanton is a bit of a jerk, but he wasn't with Buddy's gang when they vandalized the car and both Buddy (in a brief Pet the Dog moment) and Arnie reflect a bit sadly that he just picked the wrong night to be riding in the same car as Buddy and Richie.
  • Jerkass: The Cunninghams are not particularly likable. They're nowhere near as awful as Buddy, but they're controlling and condescending toward their son.
  • Jump Scare: At the climax, Leigh walks over to a prone Arnie, who's just been catapulted out of Christine. Then he leaps up, screaming on account of the massive chunk of glass in his stomach.
  • Karma Houdini: Other then getting knocked down a peg or two by Arnie after the latter stand up to them under Christine's influence, Arnie's Control Freak Abusive Parents are Spared By Adaptation in this film and not killed like in the novel.
  • Kick the Dog: In the film, Buddy and his gang laugh cruelly at Dennis's accident in the football game. And that's before what they do to Christine.
  • 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.
  • 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."
  • Love Triangle: Really it's Arnie, Leigh and Christine. Before that it appeared that Christine functioned in one for LeBay and his wife. Also, Dennis had a thing for Leigh prior to her relationship with Arnie.
  • 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.
    • Arnie's domineering mother is Regina (Latin for Queen).
  • Mocking Music: In the movie, Christine's radio plays random oldies songs, as her way to speak. "Bony Moronie" by Larry Williams, a song that mentions a very thin girl, plays as she crushes Arnie's boss flat between her front seat and her steering wheel. Also, when Dennis runs her over with the loader, she plays "Rock & Roll Is Here To Stay" by Danny & The Juniors to let everyone know that nothing can kill her.
  • Multiple Narrative Modes: Parts 1 and 3 of the novel are narrated by Dennis Guilder, part 2 is told in third-person.
  • Mythology Gag: When Dennis is talking to Jimmy Sykes (the janitor at Darnell's), Jimmy mentions he's now out of a job, and might 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 Repperton 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 Buddy's Camaro, and "Beast of Burden" is playing on the radio.
  • Not Quite Dead: Christine regenerates whenever she's beaten to smithereens. Dennis suspects she's rebuilding herself at the end.
  • Nothing but Hits: Christine's radio only plays popular music from The '50s.
  • Obliviously Evil: The book's monologues strongly implies that, at least initially, Arnie doesn't realize what Christine is doing as his enemies are turning up dead.
  • Offing the Offspring: It's revealed that LeBay may have sacrificed his choking daughter to Christine.
  • Only Friend: Dennis is Arnie's only friend.
  • Plot-Mandated Friendship Failure: Dennis and Leigh fall in love while investigating Christine, and are caught by Arnie.
  • Police Are Useless: Subverted. Rudy Junkins and Rick Mercer investigate the case, find no good cause to hold Arnie and let him go but do become increasingly suspicious (albeit unable to explain how he might have done anything), managed to bust Darnell's operation, and later Mercer seems to cautiously believe Dennis's story.
  • Say Your Prayers: When Leigh nearly chokes to death on a hamburger, she tries to recite the Act of Contrition in her head.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Sandy Galton packs up his car and leaves town not long after Christine starts killing people (although this is at least partially because Buddy is mad at him for almost squealing to the police rather than being solely due to the killings).
  • 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.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: An interesting case on it. In the beginning of the film, Arnie is the sensitive guy while Dennis is the manly man. As the story goes on, Dennis becomes the sensitive man while recovering from an injury he received from a football game while Arnie becomes the manly man from Christine's influence.
  • Sentient Vehicle: Christine is a sentient car, and also the Big Bad to boot.
  • Shout-Out: Arnie and Leigh go Christmas shopping at the Monroeville Mall.
  • Sinister Car: The titular Christine is a murderous Sentient Vehicle.
  • 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.
    • Most likely averted in the film: Christine's first victim is a factory worker who accidentally drops cigarette ashes on her front seat.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Christine's radio blares out 50s hits as she kills her targets.
  • Spared by the Adaptation:
    • In the book, Arnie's parents are killed by Christine. The film leaves this out.
    • Detective Junkins.
  • Split-Personality Takeover: LeBay's spirit eventually possesses Arnie completely.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: Both Buddy and Arnie think of Bobby Stanton as a "dipshit freshman" who just happened to be in the wrong place, in almost the same phrasing.
  • Sweater Girl: Leigh in the film is frequently shown in tight, cute sweaters.
  • 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.
  • Tears of Fear: Dennis has this in the scene when he's in Christine.
  • Tempting Fate: In the film, Christine is following Buddy Repperton. After a brief chase, he goes fishtailing into the gas station and skidded to a stop.
    Buddy Repperton: "Some shithead's following me!"
    [the sound of an engine can be heard]
    Buddy Repperaton: "I just hope he comes in here!"
    [Christine tires let out a screech as she took the same turn more gracefully than Buddy managed to. She drove right into the side of Buddy's Camaro and to a sudden stop, the car crunched against the gas station wall. Its hood popped off of one its hinges and now flopped lopsided, which seemingly matched Buddy's shocked expression]
  • 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 grille 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.)
  • Took a Level in Badass: Arnie goes through two versions of this trope. First he becomes more aggressive thanks to being possessed by LeBay's spirit. Secondly he's able to fight off the possession in the car accident that kills him and his mother.
  • Vehicle Title: Doubles as a Character Title due to the vehicle being a Sentient Vehicle.
  • Vehicular Assault: By the car itself, not by any driver.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Chapter 36 introduces and kills off Bobby Stanton.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Roseanne, who is seen cheering Dennis on at the football game, is clearly in shock when she sees that he's been struck by another player and is never seen again after that.
  • Woman Scorned: Christine counts, taking revenge on anyone who wronged her.
  • 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.
  • Yandere Couple: What the relationship between Arnie and Christine evolves into.

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