In this New Year's episode of The Rewatch Podcast, Cory and Nathan are fixing up the old wreck of "Christine."
Producer Richard Kobritz had previously produced the miniseries Salem's Lot, also based on a Stephen King novel. Through producing the miniseries, Kobritz became acquainted with King, who sent him manuscripts of two of his novels, Cujo, and Christine. Kobritz purchased the rights to Christine after finding himself attracted to the novel's "celebration of America's obsession with the motorcar."
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Stephen King's popularity was such at the time that the film went into production before the book was even published.
Kobritz's first choice for director was John Carpenter, who was initially unavailable owing to two projects: an adaptation of another King novel, Firestarter, and an adaptation of the 1980 Eric Van Lustbader novel The Ninja. However, production delays on these projects allowed Carpenter to accept the director position for Christine.
According to Carpenter, Christine was not a film he had planned on directing, saying that he directed the film as "a job" as opposed to a "personal project." He had previously directed The Thing, which had done poorly at the box office and led to critical backlash. In retrospect, Carpenter stated that upon reading Christine, he felt that "It just wasn't very frightening. But it was something I needed to do at that time for my career."
King's novel, the source material for Carpenter's film, made it clear that the car was possessed by the evil spirit of its previous owner, Roland D. LeBay, whereas the film version of the story shows that the evil spirit of the car manifested itself on the day it was built. Other elements from the novel were altered for the film, particularly the execution of the death scenes, which the filmmakers opted for a more "cinematic approach."
Initially, Columbia Pictures had wanted to cast Brooke Shields in the role of Leigh because of her publicity after the release of The Blue Lagoon (1981), and Scott Baio as Arnie. The filmmakers declined the suggestion, opting to cast young actors who were still fairly unknown. Kevin Bacon auditioned for the role, but opted out when offered a part in Footloose (1984). Carpenter cast Keith Gordon in the role of Arnie after an audition in New York City; Gordon had some experience in film, and was also working in theater at the time; John Stockwell was cast at an audition in Los Angeles.
John Stockwell (Dennis) had to take bulldozer driver lessons before filming.
Nineteen-year-old Alexandra Paul was cast in the film after an audition in New York City; according to Carpenter, Paul was an "untrained, young actress" at the time, but brought a "great quality" about the character of Leigh. According to Paul, she had not read any of King's books or seen Carpenter's films, and read the novel in preparation.
15% of the budget was just on the cars. By the end of filming, all but 2 were destroyed.
Originally, Carpenter had not planned to film the car's regeneration scenes, but gave special effects supervisor Roy Arbogast three weeks to devise a way for the car to rebuild itself. Arbogast and his team made rubber molds from one of the cars, including a whole front end. One of the cars was stripped of its engine to accommodate internally-mounted hydraulics that pulled the framework inward, crumpling the car, with the shot then run backwards in the final film.
Portions of the film, particularly Arnie's neighborhood, we're shot in the same South Pasadena neighbourhood that John Carpenter used in Halloween (1978).
Stephen King later created two characters named for Harry Dean Stanton: Harry Terwilliger and Dean Stanton. They were the names of two of the guards in The Green Mile (1999), which also featured Stanton himself as Old Toot-Toot.
In June 2021, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Blumhouse Productions announced the development of a remake of the film with Bryan Fuller penning the script and directing and Jason Blum, Vincenzo Natali and Steve Hoban producing.
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