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Soundtrack review: Christine (John Carpenter and Alan Horvath – 1983)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Christine (John Carpenter and Alan Horvath – 1983)

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“Christine” is a 1983 American horror film directed by John Carpenter and starring Keith Gordon, John Stockwell, Alexandra Paul, and Harry Dean Stanton. The film also features supporting performances from Roberts Blossom and Kelly Preston. It is written by Bill Phillips and based on the novel of the same name by Stephen King. In 1957, in Detroit, a red Plymouth Fury is built and is the cause of two accidents, one of them fatal, still in the assembly line. Twenty-one years later, the outcast and bullied nerd Arnold “Arnie” Cunningham is getting a ride with his best and only friend Dennis Guilder and he sees the wrecked car for sale in a garden. Arnie immediately falls in love with the car. The car was given the name Christine by its first owner. He brings the car to a repair shop of the despicable Will Darnell and works hard to restore the classic car. While he works in the restoration, he changes his personality to a cocky teenager and he dates the most beautiful girl in the high-school, Leigh Cabot. Soon Arnie becomes selfish and jealous of the supernatural Christine that kills everyone that is a threat to them. John Carpenter also wrote the score and Varese Sarabande is releasing the score on vinyl in 2017.

As a huge Stephen King fan, “Christine” was one of the first novels I read from him. At the beginning of the 90s there was a publishing house in Bucharest that started a Stephen King collection and I was just eating the books up. I haven’t seen this particular movie but I welcome a chance to hear John Carpenter’s score, especially in this period when everything in film and TV is about Stephen King. Also as a synth music fan, an 80s sore by John Carpenter is a sure bet, especially when my favourite branch of that genre is the quiet, dreamier one. Quiet and dreamy is how this score starts, regardless of the horrors and violence in the story. These parts are subtly treated by not making the music too melodic and warm; Carpenter finds a good balance between moods and his score gets hypnotic quite fast.

I love the simplicity of the music because it hits that nostalgic early 80s spot; this is how electronic synth music sounded back then, almost barren at times, stripped of bells and whistles, focusing on just that pulsating and addictive sound, dark and metallic. There are times, like “Moochie’s death” when the music gets louder and more alert and once again it reminds me of a lot of Sci-fi and horror movies from the 80s. I enjoy much more a score that gives me this level of nostalgia.

I am sure Carpenter fans or 80s synth music fans will have no trouble connecting with this score. It’s a classic and rightfully so.

Cue rating: 92 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 24 / 34

Album excellence: 70%

Highlights:
Arnie’s Love Theme
Obsessed With the Car
Show Me
Junkins
Nobody’s Home / Restored
Car Obsession Reprise
Christine Attacks (Plymouth Fury)
Talk On the Couch
Darnell’s Tonight
Arnie
Moochie Mix Four

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Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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