Composed By: John Carpenter in conjunction with Alan Howarth

Distributed by: Varese Sarabande Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


                Christine is the second movie adaptation of a Steven King novel I ever say (Carrie was the first).  For some reason, this film resonated with me as I watched a nerdy, bullied 17-year-old Arnie Cunningham (Keith Gordon) become obsessed with a 1958 Plymouth Fury.  And as infatuated with the car as Arnie is, with his loving restoration, Christine (as she is named) becomes infatuated with Arnie, demanding his complete and undying devotion.  In return, Christine will help rid him of his enemies and make him popular.  As Arnie becomes more and more obsessed with Christine, it becomes apparent to his friend Dennis (John Stockwell) and his girlfriend Leigh (Alexandra Paul) that Christine is the jealous sort, capable of doing great harm to anyone who stands in the way of their love.

                In addition to directing this film, John Carpenter created the musical score for Christine with some help from fellow composer Alan Howarth.  American movie director, screenwriter, producer, editor and composer John Carpenter has long been known for dabbling in both filmmaking and composing, often creating movie scores for his own movies.  His breakthrough film, Halloween, is scary enough as a serial killer film set during Halloween, but it is made even scarier by the musical score he created for the film.  Other movies that Carpenter directed and created musical score for include: Escape from New York, Halloween II and Halloween III, Assault on Precinct 13, They Live, Prince of Darkness and The Fog.  American musician and composer Alan Howarth performed in local rock bands and jazz fusion bands before his big break in 1979 when he was taken on as a sound designer for six Star Trek films.  He has collaborated with John Carpenter on a number of projects.

                I enjoyed Christine so much, I eventually bought a copy of that Steven King novel and read it a number of times.  I also bought a copy of the soundtrack on audio cassette.  When I was told that the soundtrack would be remastered by Varese Sarabande Records for release on blue vinyl, I was extremely happy.  This afforded me the opportunity to review a new remastered version of an album I already owned, but hadn’t listened to in a while.

I was first struck with the new cover designed by award-winning artists and alternative movie poster designer Gary Pullin.  His description of his own work surpasses anything I could say: “I’ve always loved Stephen King's novel and the cover is a stunner - a stylized hood ornament with a screaming skull, Christine in chrome as it blazes across the hard cover…For the films’ score, I wanted to feature the Plymouth Fury logo front and centre, in a simplistic and new way. The shape of the V reminded me of devil horns - she's the car from hell! The blue glow represents the supernatural force living under the hood and inside her evil grinning grill. I often go for atmospheric designs when creating artwork for movie soundtracks and the art seemed like a perfect fit for the electronic score that Carpenter and Howarth created to drive the film’s suspense and bring the fury of Christine to life."  The labels for the LP are equally awesome, looking like gauges from the vehicle’s dashboard.

                Now for the music: The score for Christine is a tad different from other disturbing John Carpenter scores as there is none of that repetitive keying on piano or synth that makes chills run down your spine.  But Carpenter does love his synths and the score for Christine is comprised of just that.  There are lighter moments in which we glimpse Arnie’s vulnerability and the concern felt by his friend and girlfriend.  Mostly, there is that obsession element which calls for a windy sound mixed with high pitched synths.  Most memorable is when Christine attacks.  Each time this car gets ready to go after an enemy, there is a blast of high pitch electronic sound as her headlights turn on full blast.  As she starts moving, faster-paced, darker-toned synths, combined with percussion offer up a predatory sound that allows you to picture Christine hunting down her enemies. 

                Listening to this score brought back memories.  I could actually picture every single moment of this film while listening to a much crisper version of the score than I had ever heard before.  I would definitely recommend the newly remastered Christine Soundtrack to every fan of the film and of John Carpenter’s movie scores!  Who wouldn’t want a cleaner, crisper version of a musical score for a film they love?!


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