Thursday, October 4, 2012
"The Ride of Your Life"
by Christopher Highland
For Horror Bob's Blog
Horror films have a negative reputation, and I believe I have figured out why. With the MPAA coming into effect in 1968, controversial subject matters came into play, more than ever before, which were usually censored after 1934. Though rated, boundaries were challenged and broken through as genres were handled with more maturity. Horror rose again in a big way, through the 1970s and coming to a head in the 1980's, regarding frequency and intensity, and spilling over into recent years. Not just explictness, but over-explictness, has tended to be the standard a disproportionate amount of the time. This usually left little room for other elements of what the horror film genre really is: competent acting, character development, depth, and suspense. Endless sequels, make-up, special effects, and icons have flooded the market, essentially alienating outside audiences. They became cinematic cognac if made a certain way, a roller coaster in its base elements.
Then there are horror films such as "Christine".
"Christine", taking place in 1978, tells the story of Arnie Cunningham, played by Keith Gordon, who is introverted and an outcast, due to his appearance. With his only friend, Dennis, they get into a fight at school with the bully, Buddy Repperton, and his friends. After Buddy pulls a knife, he gets expelled after being caught with it, but swears revenge. Arnie and Dennis pass by an old car for sale on their way home: a 1958, Plymouth Fury, and red. Believing his can put new life into it, Arnie buys it, despite disapproval from Dennis, and Arnie's parents. As he fixes it up with amazing speed and dedication, Arnie goes through a transformation, too. He dresses and acts differently, becomes more confidant, even winning the affection of the popular girl, Leigh, but obsessing about his car, named Christine. Never mind the fact that Buddy and his friends trash the car, or that revenge occurs soon after. The real horror is how Arnie goes from a quiet, sympathetic character, to a mean, selfish, ultra-obsessive person.
Directed and scored by John Carpenter in 1983, "Christine" is well-crafted with a soundtrack mostly full of 1950s music. During one scene, the song "Little Bitty Pretty One" plays on Christine's radio, which slowly builds tension, adding to the atmosphere. Masterfully shot, each scene is as tight as the car itself. Though the car has a life of its own, being able to repair itself, it is integral to the story, and not a crutch.
Directors such as Alfred Hitchcock proved that with ingenuity and class, specific genres could be handled well enough to be inviting to those who are unaccustomed. Since John Carpenter was influenced by Hitchcock, the quality is evident in the film. Also, studies have shown that some of these films can be good for the heart rate. Rarely do these films offer more than face value other than entertainment. This has much more.
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