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January 07, 1984 - Image 7

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1984-01-07

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ARTS

The Michigan Daily Saturday, January 7, 1984 page 7

'Christine'

runs out of gas

By Larry Dean
C hristine, the third in a trio of
Stephen King novels adapted for
the screen in 1983, seemed to have
everything going for it: A young cast
headed by promising semi-newcomer
Keith Gordon, a producer who
exhibited more than the usual financial
know-how to the above-average
television film of King's Salem's Lot, a
director who has proven himself time
and time again in the horror genre, and
a good starting point in the novel, one of
King's best in years.
However, for all the promise at hand,
Christine is a let-down. In comparison
to the book, the movie pales; and John
Carpenter's direction is sadly lax, if not
downright uninspired.
This is too bad, because, despite the
simple plot, Carpenter could have
worked wonders. Christine is the story
of super-nerd Arnie Cunningham (Gor-
don) and his love affair with a 1958
Plymouth Fury (named Christine), a
car with a diabolical will of its own.
Between Arnie and his beloved steps his
best friend Dennis (John Stockwell), a
jock with a brotherly attachment to the
insecure nerd, and Leigh Cabot(Alexan-
dra Paul), the new and prettiest girl in
school who is Christine's human rival.

If that little triangle isn't enough to
fill up two hours of movie time, then
there's the other subplots-Arnie's in-
volvement with a bunch of rangy
hoodlums, his "apprenticeship" under
sleazy garage-owner Will Darnell
(played wonderfully by Robert
Prosky), and the atmosphere in the
Cunningham household as Arnie slowly
alters from his previous, overprotected
self, to a strong and independent macho
thug.
One of the biggest problems with
Christine is that the screenplay, by Bill
Phillips, condenses King's 500-page
novel into a barely recognizeable fac-
simile of the original; many of the
minor characters are simply brushed
off (as in the case of Arnie's parents,
whom we get a decent picure of in the
book), or merely done away with. In
the most ill-fated character-com-
promise, Roland LeBay, the menacing
old coot who sells Arnie his beloved
Fury in the book, is done away with in
the movie; instead, Phillips combines
LeBay's character with his brother,
George. George explains why the car is
evil in the book but his individual per-
sona is eradicated for the film. Sound
confusing? Yes, it is, and detracting as
hell, as LeBay's evil presence-so
essential to the book-all but vanishes
from Phillips' screenplay.

The biggest error that Phillips makes
in his Christine adaption is leaving out
all the most horrific aspects of King's
story. All the ghouls, corpses, menace
and special effects are written out, and
the absense of these Kingian
trademarks reduces Christine to a sim-
ple-minded and confusing joyride.
Carpenter has proven that he can
master both over and understatement
in the suspense department. His most
successful film, Halloween, was a vir-
tually bloodless exercise in technique
that put the audience in the hands of a
craftsman who was capable of making
them scared with his subtleties rather
than grossing them out with gore. On
the other hand, last year's The Thing
was a brilliant example of unrestrain-
tment, wherein Carpenter let effects
man Rob Bottin run wild in creating a
bevy of disgustingly lurid monsters;
this is quite different from Howard
Hawks' less graphic handling of the
original film, a '50s kitsch classic, but it'
proves that carpenter has the vision
and the gusto to do more .than just
"adapt" from another source.
So why, then, does Christine look so
bad? One guess is that it was too
hastily done-the book hadn't even
been published in hardcover before
producer Kobritz bought the rights, and
production supposedly went so

smoothly that its release-date was
pushed up by six months. That means
that the film was essentially completed
in eight months' time, a record for any
celluloid effort with a modest budget.
However, it may be that Carpenter,
as versatile as he is, might have sucked
up to recount for the losses he had with
The Thing, which was a financial flop.
Ironically, he had been slated to direct
the adaption of King's Firestarter until
Universal, the company behind The
Thing, pulled him off it because of bad
receipts at the ,box-office. Now that
project is under the auspices of former
child "star"-turned-director Mark
Lester (Roller Boogie, Class of '84).
The ad for Christine features a quote
from Stephen King wherein he says that
he considers it to be one of the finest
adaptions of his work. But in a short in-
terview, Scatman Crothers, who was
featured in Stanley Kubrick's wildly
uneven The Shining, remarked that
although King had professed to liking
the film when pressed by reporters, he
said he could tell King was just "being
nice" about it.
I wish I could be that nice about
Christine. But the truth is that Carpen-
ter, Phillips and crew have, as your
friendly local used car dealer might
say, sold us a lemon. 1983's King
sweepstakes tallies up two winners with
Cujo and The Dead Zone, and a big
disappointment with this movie.
Christine is a supreme letdown.
ANN ARBOR
2 INDIVIDUAL THEATRES
5h " o iert'''y 741-9700
$2.00 SHOWS REFORE 6:00 P.M.
MAX IRENE GARY
"W-JO" CARA BUSEY
GAIL
FRI., MON. 1:00, 7:20, 9:40 (R)
SAT., SUN. 1:20, 3:20, 5:20, 7:20, 9:40
SHIRLEY MacLAINE
DEBRA WINGER
JACK NICHOLSON
FRI., MON. 1:00, 7:00, 9:30
SAT., SUN. 1:00, 3:30, 7:00, 9:30 (PG)

Keith Gordon, Alexandra Paul and John Stockwell star with a 1958 Plymouth
Fury named Christine in John Carpenter's latest film.

Halfway Inn hosts hardcore happy hours

By Joe Hoppe
The Halfway Inn, also known as
East Quad's basement, goes big
time tonight with the Necros, midwest
hardcore's first and foremost band.
They hail from Maumee, Ohio, and
have been around for five years, or
pretty close to a real long time,
anyways. Inspired by first-generation
L.A. thrashers like The Germs and
Black Flag, as well as the all-important
Misfits on the other coast, the Necros
got together, became associated with a
fanzine, Touch & Go, which is now also
a record label, and the band's sound,
style and attitude spread from Maumee
to Detroit.
The four piece (drums, bass, guitar,
voice) band has done a lot of en-
couraging, a lot of example providing,
if nothing else, to the, whale scene in
Michigan; bands like Ann Arbor's own
State, Detroit's Negative Approach and
all the young bands, East Lansing's
.Crucifucks, and Kalamazoo's Violent
Apathy (who will be at the HalfAss next

week).
The Necroes have done two EP's on
their own Touch & Go records, with at
least one all time great h.c. hit-"I.Q.
32." Both EP's have sold very well. A
full length Necros album, Conquest
from Death was released last summer,
a few days after the band played at
Joe's Star Lounge.
The album is slower and more heavy-
metalish than previous Necros efforts,
as was the show, but they're still a good
band to see. They've also had a recent
personell change as evidenced by the
new Necros drummer. His name was
unavailable at press time, but he used
to play with Detroit's Gerbils.
So here's your chance, people; har-
dcore with a history tonight at the Half-
way. You know it's always fun. Fate
unknown, also from Maumee, plays
too, along with some other special
guests.
As with all In The Red productions,
there isn't an age limit on this one, so
the young may attend. Again fitting in-
to the pattern, admission is $4. The
poster says it begins at 9 p.m. That's
sharp.

The Necros are back in town with hard core for all you die-hard punk fans tonight at the Halfway Inn, East Quad.

False
alarm
Well Police fans, sorry if we alarmed
you. the Police are not (sigh of relief)
breaking up. This rock institution -
they've been together for nine years
- is going to go right on making
music. According to A&M records the
Police have decided to turn off the red
light and continue recording and
touring. No need to send out an SOS,
the Police will be around when you
need them. So just forget all this
"goodbye to rock" talk Andrew,
Sting, and Stewart - we couldn't
stand losing you.

0n
40

Dance
Theatre
Studio
711 N. University
(near State St.)
Ann Arbor
Classes in ballet,
modern, jazz, tap.

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