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Christine Overdrive
by T.J. Tranchell

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My new ride will be in better condition than this ... I hope.

My new ride will be in better condition than this ... I hope.
I'm getting a new car this week. It's a scary thing. I've always driven other people's cars or been a passenger. If I told you how old I was when I finally got my driver's license, you'd probably laugh and wonder how I ever survived in the world. The car, of course, isn't new, really, but it is twenty years newer than what I have been driving for the last three years.

What does this have to do with movies, you ask? In many ways, nothing. In others, a lot. My movie choices are influenced by what is going on in my life, sometimes in disjointed ways, sure, but I always make it work. So right now, I am watching CHRISTINE and later I'm going to watch MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE.

I will attempt to set my undying (though not unwavering) love of Stephen King aside, but I make no promises.

There is little doubt that CHRISTINE is the better of these two films. Directed by John Carpenter and starring no one who became famous, it is a classic high school horror movie. If you were the nerd who restored a hot rod just to get laid, this is your movie. If you were one of the bullies who trashed the nerd's car, feel lucky
I think I might have an oil leak. Why don't you come over here and look.

I think I might have an oil leak. Why don't you come over here and look.
that cars don't actually come back to life on their own.

Wouldn't that be great, though? Never have to pay a mechanic or get an oil change. Break downs on the side of the road wouldn't happen. You'd just get to cruise and all it takes is premium gasoline and a human sacrifice every once in a while.

The iconic imagine from CHRISTINE is of the 1958 Plymouth Fury running down a mook while engulfed in flames. Headlights beaming vengeance, windows tinted so dark the stunt driver doesn't exist, and all that fire: from the hood, from behind the wheels, from the back. If ever there was a hell-car, Christine is it.

The movie isn't perfect, but if we are judging on the standards of Stephen King adaptations (THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION and THE GREEN MILE being at the top and CHILDREN OF THE CORN sequels being at the bottom) then CHRISTINE is definitely in the top ten percent of the galaxy of King films.

Not so much for MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE, King's first and only directorial effort. It is universally panned as a bad movie and even more so for King's attempt to direct it. And yet, I love it. I know it is a bad
Trade you a Spider-Man autograph for a Charlie Sheen?

Trade you a Spider-Man autograph for a Charlie Sheen?
movie, I know Emilio Estevez is not an action star, I know someone ripped off a giant Green Goblin head for the "leader truck," I know all of that and more.

I also know that King himself has said it was a bad idea and that he was drunk and coked out the whole time. So, really, is it his fault that MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE sucks harder than a brand new Hoover?

Undying love, here we go.

I say, no. He was making millions of dollars at the time and someone (Dino De Laurentiis, to be precise) decided to spend the dough to let him have a go at directing. It didn't work out and everybody knows it. So leave the guy alone. If MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE shows up on your late night cable, you don't have to watch it if you don't want to.

But why not give it a chance, huh? Do it for me. If nothing else, just watch the first twenty minutes or so, just to see soda machines pop out cans like missiles, lawn mowers cut more than grass and electric knives get skittish. Do it for the AC/DC soundtrack.

Do it just to watch one of cinema's best lines ever.

Our humble director appears early in the film, wearing a stupid hat and
Even at your worst, Uncle Stevie, I would never call you an asshole.

Even at your worst, Uncle Stevie, I would never call you an asshole.
his very own Coke-bottle glasses. He walks up to an ATM during the initial bout of machines going crazy. The screen reads, "You are an asshole," then repeats the epithet. Without missing a beat, King turns to his movie wife sitting in their station wagon and says, "Honey, come on over here, Sugarbuns. This machine called me an asshole."

I love it. No lies. I'm laughing right now because it is so damn funny. Yeah, OK, the rest of the movie blows massive chunks, but it is far from the bottom of the barrel when it comes to King movies or movies about possessed motor vehicles.

Just for fun, go ahead and watch CHRISTINE and MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE back-to-back. I promise, it will be great. If you do, I want you to do me a favor. While watching MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE, I want you to pay close attention to the prologue statement about the meteor. If you notice what I notice, try telling my there isn't a little of Stephen King that isn't psychic.

Just try to hold onto your lunch when you see those 1986 gas prices.

As for me, by next week's column, I'll be cruising in my new car. Maybe I will name her Christine, just for fun.

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Anne Marie
Apr 17, 2009 9:24 AM
[X] delete
i saw the movie Christine it was scary but it was a good movie
based on a novel by Stephen King
another good movie is stuck worth renting

Apr 17, 2009 7:02 PM
[X] delete
What types are you looking at?

Apr 17, 2009 11:48 PM
[X] delete
The Dead Zone is one of the best King adaptations; Christopher Walken and Martin Sheen were perfectly cast. Christine, incidentally, is one of my favorite King novels. I think Maximum Overdrive is awful, but that line you mentioned is really funny, and I love the AC/DC soundtrack, but the story it is based on, from the Night Shift collection, is not all that good to start with. That is the same collection that features Children of the Corn, a great story, which spawned one of the worst horror franchises ever.

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Other Columns
Other columns by T.J. Tranchell:

Feeling (Rob) Zombie-fied

Hit the road, Jack

Camcorder Carnage

The scariest movie of all time

Universal's forgotten fiend

All Columns

T.J. Tranchell
Born on Halloween and raised in a single screen theater managed by his grandpa, T.J. now spends more time than should be healthy staying up past midnight reading Stephen King and watching Friday the 13th movies. Part 3 is the best one.

If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to T.J. Tranchell by clicking here.

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