Most car guys are aware of the incredibly evil 1958 Plymouth Fury 2-door hardtop named Christine that starred in the 1983 horror movie of the same name, along with the 1983 Stephen King ‘Christine’ novel.
King’s ‘Christine’ paperback version preceded the movie by several months and was a good warmup for the flick that hit the screens on December 9, 1983, although King’s car was a 4-door model that had a column-mounted automatic transmission instead of the famous Chrysler push-button automatic.
The push-button error prompted MyStarCollectorCar’s Jerry Sutherland (my brother) to write a snail mail letter to King to correct him about the mistake, along with Jerry’s criticism of the movie’s wholesale destruction of too many 1958 Plymouths during the filming process. King wrote back and apologized for the push button transmission error–but placed the responsibility for the ‘58 Plymouth carnage squarely on movie director John Carpenter.
“The Year of Christine” was an exciting time for both of us (Jerry and me) because the early 1983 ‘Christine’ novel heated up our excitement for the December 1983 ‘Christine’ movie. The only issue for us was our local theaters were not in the first-run movie loop at the time, so we had to travel to Edmonton, Alberta Canada (about 90 miles away) to see the see ‘Christine’ on its opening night.
The theater was in the famous West Edmonton Mall, a giant indoor shopping center that still draws over 32 million visitors every year. However, we were only there for the movie and not the mall.
‘Christine’ debuted in North American theaters on December 9, 1983, and it was about -20 Fahrenheit (a little under -30 Celsius) when we hit the road to Edmonton that day. There were three of us on the trip, all of us were fans of the Stephen King novel, and two of us (Jerry and I) were big fans of the Forward Look finned beauties, so a little cold weather did not bother us.
Our mode of travel was a 1972 Chevy 4-door sedan named “Irving the Wonder Impala” by its owner/driver Brian Saby. Brian was a world-class dentist and a very average driver, but Irving gave him plenty of confidence to hit the road on a cold wintry night to see a movie in a theater 90 miles away.
‘Christine’ lived up to its billing as a horror movie for Jerry and me, mainly because we had to watch so many 1958 Plymouth Furys bite the dust in it. It is still difficult to watch the cars get destroyed every time we see the movie.
We also paid attention to the other very attractive female star in the movie, namely Alexandra Paul, because she is also an identical twin, and her sister Caroline made a brief appearance as Alexandra’s character in ‘Christine’. Jerry was fortunate enough to interview Alexandra about her impressions of the ‘Christine’ movie for a Halloween 2016 MyStarCollectorCar feature article and still considers the interview to be one of his favorites.
The other upside to the ‘Christine’ movie was the 1958 Plymouth Furys did not die in vain because they triggered a big interest in Forward Look-era Mopars and saved many of them from the crusher. For the record, exactly no 1958 Plymouth Fury model left the factory in a red-and-white paint scheme, but plenty of restored 1958 Plymouth Fury models are red and white cars in 2023.
BY: Jim Sutherland
Jim Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer whose work has been published by many major print and online publications. The list includes Calgary Herald, The Truth About Cars, Red Deer Advocate, RPM Magazine, Edmonton Journal, Montreal Gazette, Windsor Star, Vancouver Province, and Post Media Wheels Section.