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ThisTV Movie Review: Star Trek The Motion Picture

star_trek_the_motion_pictureI have a friend who calls Star Trek The Motion Picture a ‘very long tea party in space.’ Jokes on him, though, because they don’t even DRINK tea in this movie. And jokes on me, because even with the lack of tea drinking I understand the point he’s making (in his very snarky manner).

The plot for the first Star Trek movie breaks down basically like this: Some giant space anomaly type thing comes along and starts sucking up Klingons and space stations and common sense. Starfleet gets a bit freaked out when it realizes the anomaly is headed toward Earth so they decide to send the Enterprise out to intercept it. Of course Admiral James T. Kirk HAS to lead the mission, even though he’s spent the last few years working a desk at Starfleet headquarters AND the Enterprise has been almost completely rebuilt with a new Captain at the helm. Tensions rise (very slowly) as Admiral and Captain clash, Captain is re-introduced to an old love interest, friends are re-united to less than bromance level excitement, and EVENTUALLY the Big Bad at the heart of the anomaly is revealed to be someone(thing?) no one could have really expected because wow that was kind of a cool and surprising reveal.

startrek2Star Trek The Motion Picture is a big, long, strange mess. It feels nothing like an episode of the show, and nothing like any of the other movies in the franchise. The costumes don’t look right, the characters don’t really act right, and the story just doesn’t FEEL right. It isn’t that this movie is BAD, it’s that it is so WEIRD. Long scenes with people staring at things. Crazy effects and graphics just for the sake of having crazy effects and graphics (“look guys, we have a huge budget and we’re gonna spend it ALL on computer images and models and anything else we can think up!”). The inside of V-ger’s (the Big Bad’s) ship is cool and all, but it goes on FOREVER and traveling through it is just a lot of staring and making faces and staring and gasping in wonder and on and on and ON. The thing is I actually quite like the whole V-ger thing. It’s an interesting idea. Unfortunately it’s buried in all the weirdness of the rest of the movie.

And is it just me, or does it seem like the creators/costumers on Star Trek can’t ever figure out what exactly future fashion will look like? It changes almost every film and sometimes it is way more bizarre than others. In this first film in the series they’ve settled on a future/ancient Grecian … style? … I guess? Lots of short tunics and short dresses and short sandals and, yeah, lots of shortness going on. Except when people pop up in 70’s leisure suits with swanky medallions and bushy beards (Bones was into bushy beards BEFORE they were cool).

startrekAnyway, so yeah, Star Trek The Motion Picture, kind of a mess BUT like I mentioned before, the reveal of the Big Bad is pretty cool and raises all these great questions about robots and artificial intelligence and what it means to be alive and questioning existence and who may have created that existence. And while much of the cast is left in the background, miling around and getting randomly electrocuted from their work consoles, some good depth is given to Spock (quit trying to grow out of your emotions there buddy, it never works out well in the end for you) and Admiral/Captain/WhateverHeIsToday Kirk. From the second he catches sight of the Enterprise you can see in his eyes that he will never love anyone as much as he loves that ship. He’ll never fight as hard for a human relationship as he will for his right to sit in that Captain’s chair. In an incredibly d-bag-like maneuver first thing in the movie he steals the Enterprise from the guy who he told Starfleet to hand the ship to. Poor Captain Will Decker, he never really stood a chance, in his less-than-flattering gray unitard and righteous indignation. Decker wants to be Captain because that’s the next step in his Starfleet career. Kirk wants to be Captain because he’s married to his ship and doesn’t know any other way to be.

star-trek-MP_lIn addendum, some things I noticed and kept track of in this, my dozenth (is that a word? cause I’m using it whether it is or not) viewing of this film: Dr. McCoy walks on and off the bridge of the Enterprise six times for no particularly good reason (he’s the head of medical, why is he ALWAYS up on the dang bridge? doesn’t he have medical stuff to be doing?), there are six costume changes between the main characters of the film and most of those do not seem like they need to happen (though I do find the white short sleeved shirt uniform Kirk sports for a while quite fetching), and the scene that shows off the Enterprise for the first time in the movie takes a whopping five minutes. Five minutes of nothing but showing off the ship from every conceivable angle – to a rendition of the Star Trek theme done on harp, no less. Quick sidenote on that ‘five minutes,’ however, as I think that scene used to be longer. In fact I think several scenes in this film used to be longer, so maybe I had a special edition of the movie OR someone realized along the way that all the staring and gasping and watching scenes did nothing for the flow of the film and cut them down a bit.

– Mia V.

Star Trek The Motion Picture, 1979
Starring William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelly, Stephen Collins
Directed by Robert Wise
Written by Gene Roddenberry, Harlod Livingston

*Watch Star Trek The Motion Picture on ThisTV: Tuesday September 23rd at 7pm, Thursday September 25th at 8am, Monday September 29th at 7pm!

 

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ThisTV Movie Review: Star Trek II-Wrath of Khan

star-trek-ii-the-wrath-of-khan-poster-star-trek-movies-8475612-1707-2560“Jim Kirk was many things, but he was NEVER a boy scout.” Dr. Carol Marcus
“I don’t believe in a no-win scenario.” Admiral James T. Kirk

Once upon a time James T. Kirk was a captain. Then he was an admiral. Then he was a captain again. And then an admiral. And then he was dead, but not really. And how did all this ridiculous yo-yo-ing start?

Well …

Once upon a time there was a planet where a Big Bad with fabulous hair and a Latin accent was marooned by Captain Kirk and then forgotten. It left him feeling a bit … bitter.

Ok VERY bitter.

So when StarFleet returns to his crappy desert planet and starts poking around at things, this bitter Big Bad is quite ready to bring on an extreme level of vengeance to the universe.

And especially on James T. Kirk.

ST2_1The plot of Wrath of Khan basically breaks down like this: The Starship Reliant is tooling about the galaxy looking for a dead planet to do some science-y business on. Unfortunately the planet they come up with is less lifeless than it at first seems. Khan Noonien Singh, an old nemesis of Admiral Kirk’s from back in his original Captain-y run on television, has been living it up on this desolate wasteland and he’s ready to branch out and explore some new worlds. Within just a short period of time he’s taken control of the Reliant, stolen some swanky life-creating future-tech, and harassed the Enterprise and Kirk in an explosive and nearly life-taking way. Soon Kirk, Spock, and the rest of the jolly Enterprise crew must find a way to retake the future-tech, destroy Khan, and deal with some sudden and surprising family issues (surprise Kirk, it’s a boy!).

movies-star-trek-wrath-of-khanStar Trek 2: Wrath of Khan is not the first film in the Star Trek film series, but it is the first one many fans want to acknowledge exists. It’s the one with the great story, scene-chewing Big Bad, epically quotable dialogue, and wonderful, emotional, tragic ending. It’s the one that combines classic literature including Moby Dick, A Tale of Two Cities, and King Lear with the powered-up version of a 60’s campy scifi show. It’s the one that leads into the next one, and the next one, and the next one, where Admiral Kirk will find himself demoted, promoted, imprisoned, and sucked into a time vortex-y thing.

It’s the one where for a moment, a brief little hiccup of time, James T. Kirk admits he’s old and tired and worn out around the edges and maybe ready for all of the space adventuring to be over.

It’s a tiny little moment, a bit of quiet after Khan has stolen the life-creating future-tech and (supposedly) stranded Kirk and company inside a dead planet and Kirk has screamed Khan’s name in an iconic fashion. Kirk and his lost love interest Dr. Carol Marcus are having a heart-to-heart about life, the universe, and every secret child-shaped thing, when for just a minute – just a tiny little minute – he gives up.

Khan!!!Admiral Kirk, once the most infamous captain of the most infamous ship in StarFleet, has had enough. His ship is a mess, his crew is injured or dead, he’s stranded in a planet with his ex and his surprise son, his enemy from 15 years ago is out to get him, and he’s just had a birthday reminding him that his time in this crazy galaxy is running out.

It is such a brief moment really, and within minutes he’s off and running on another hair-brained scheme to save the day. BUT. But. That doesn’t make it any less of a profound look into the heart of this great man.

James T. Kirk is a legend. A hero. A rebel and a scoundrel and a bit of a man whore.

He’s larger than life. He’s the only one to ever beat the Kobayashi Maru no-win-scenario – because he totally cheated. He’s an idea, a concept, an ascendant point to aspire to.

But he’s also a man. A man with deep weariness who has been around the universe and back and isn’t sure he has it in himself to do it all again.

– Mia V.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, PG, 1982
Starring William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Ricardo Montalban
Directed by Nicholas Meyer
Written by Gene Roddenberry, Harve Bennet

*Watch Wratch of Khan on ThisTV: Friday 9/19 11:30pm, Tuesday 9/23 at 9:30pm, and Thursday 9/25 at 10:30am!

 

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ThisTV Movie Review: She’s Having a Baby

she_s_having_baby“People don’t mature anymore. They stay jackasses all their lives.” Grandpa Briggs

Before Kevin Bacon obsessed over horrible serial killers. Before Elizabeth McGovern was a high lady in England. Before Alec Baldwin was funny. Before any of them were famous for being serious actors, they were just a bunch of 80’s kids starring in a John Hughes movie (because that’s what kids in the 80s did).

The plot of She’s Having a Baby basically breaks down like this: Jefferson Briggs (Kevin Bacon) is young and confused and in love and adorable. He marries his sweetheart Kristie (Elizabeth McGovern) even though his handsome but somewhat skeazy bestie (Alec Baldwin) tells him not to. Jefferson wants to write novels and be happy and spends a lot of time worrying that it isn’t happening for him the way he wants it to. He lies his way into an advertising job (makes sense), buys a house, mows his lawn, tells everyone he’ll be a novelist someday, and keeps waiting for happiness to smack him in the face. Of course that isn’t how happiness in life works, but it takes him pretty much the whole film to figure that out.

She_s_Having_A_Baby_231790sPersonally I love She’s Having a Baby. It’s a very sweet, rather witty, somewhat more grown-up version of a John Hughes story. Of course even with that slightly more grown-up vibe, it is still littered liberally with John Hughes’ film fixtures: someone drives a ridiculous sporty 80’s car, parents/grandparents are bossy and clueless, dialogue is quick and pithy and a little sarcastic, Paul Gleason makes an appearance, much of the story takes place in the middle of Everywhere, Illinois, the main character spends the majority of the time questioning everything around them, and the soundtrack is rockin’ (I dare anyone to not tear up during This Woman’s Work at the end).

It’s a solid, good-natured dramedy that proves a point without being so in-your-face about it that you want to scream and throw things at the TV. Which is good, cause my roommate would be pissed if I messed up her giant swanky LED TV. It’s not as silly as Weird Science, not as overly dramatic as Pretty in Pink, but that nice middle of the road between funny and serious (it actually swings between a fully choreographed singing dancing lawnmowing number to a very intense birthing scene) like Breakfast Club.

bacon-mcgovern-shes-havingThere are, of course, some flaws. Like the great 80’s scifi features of yesteryear such as Space Mutiny and (original) Battlestar Galactica, She’s Having a Baby is extremely dated. The hair and the shoulderpads are too poofy, the walls are too pastel-washed, and the idea that a woman can get married, give up her job, and stay home with the kids forever cause the husband is working is an idea of a bygone era. It’s a perfect little time capsule of suburban, middle class, 80’s life, wrapped up in a sentimental John Hughes-shaped bow. Even the silly end credit scene, with the characters trying to figure out a baby name and lineup of big name stars of the 1980s (Wil Wheaton! Bill Murray! Dan Ackroyd!) throwing in an idea, is so dated it hurts.

Does this detract from the overall enjoyment you can experience watching this film? I don’t particularly think so BUT I am a product of those wonderful 80s and I love watching those old movies and laughing about just how much has changed – and how much has stayed the same – since then. Sure we’ve replaced typewriters with tablet computers, sweaters and long skirts with skinny jeans and hipster vests, and lifelong careers for the jobs of the moment, but deep down we want the same things now that they wanted back then – family, friends, happiness, and a sense of our place in the grand scheme of things.

– Mia V.

She’s Having a Baby, Rated PG-13, 1988
Starring Kevin Bacon, Elizabeth McGovern, Alec Baldwin
Directed by John Hughes
Written by John Hughes

*Watch She’s Having a Baby on ThisTV: Thursday 9/11 at 3pm and Tuesday 9/30 at 9am!

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The (Semi)Ultimate Guide to Stargate SG-1 – Divide and Conquer

stargateseason4Today’s very special episode: 4.5 Divide and Conquer 

“ALRIGHT if we had known ANY of this we might’ve been able to take a few more precautions!” – Col. Jack ‘With Two Ls’ O’Neill

Plot? What plot? Oh THIS one:
Act One – The Tok’ra high mucky muck is set to have a meeting with the American president (but not Michael Douglas) and plans for his visit and safety have to be worked out. This means SG-1 has to play diplomats because they are apparently the only people in the world able to handle things like that (seriously it’s ALWAYS them). Negotiations turn extremely sour when one of the non-SG-1 SG guys suddenly goes postal and starts shooting up the place (I forgot to check for a red shirt but I’m pretty sure the dude was wearing one under his SGC jacket). Luckily none of the REALLY IMPORTANT CHARACTERS die but the stage has been set for the plot of the episode.

Act Two – Anise/Freya of the Tok’ra declares that the Goa’uld have come up with some new mind control technology that is making uber-kamikazes out of people. The rest of the Tok’ra aren’t quite sure they believe in this technology but for the sake of the storyline everyone goes along with it. Eventually O’Neill and Carter are tested for brain tampering and it is discovered that something has definitely been meddled with where their memories are concerned. The Colonel and Major are quarantined and plans continue for the big meet and greet between El Presidente and Tok’ra High Councillor (because now all of a sudden they don’t need SG-1 for this kind of stuff?).

Act Three – Jack tries to sacrifice himself for the good of everyone (but mainly Sam). Sam and Martouf have a sweet moment that should be accompanied by ominous music, Sam experiences an Ah-Ha moment in the nick of time, and Jack is saved having his brain fried but must admit to some things he doesn’t really want to admit to. He then manages to help save the President and the Tok’ra head honcho from Martouf (remember my comment about the ominous music?). All is well once again in the land of aliens and snarky jokes. Only Sam is sad because Martouf is dead, Jack is sad because he’s had to realize some things that just plain suck, and Teal’c is sad because he was almost completely left out of this episode.

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Best moment(s) of this episode:
O’Neill making out with a Tok’ra. That was pretty funny. And then him explaining to Daniel Jackson later that the host body likes Jack while the ‘snake’ likes Daniel. That was funny too.

The loaded look that passed between Major Carter and Colonel O’Neill when she finds out he offered to be a guinea pig in case it might save her life later. Not nearly as funny as the kissing Tok’ra bit, but still a great moment.

And DEFINITELY the moment when Sam stops Jack from getting his brain lasered because neither one wants to admit they have THE FEELINGS for each other and the alien lie detector machine thinks that means they are hiding/lying/possessed by false thoughts.

Worst moment(s) of this episode:
Martouf’s death. I mean come on. Why kill off Sam’s potential handsome love interest if you aren’t going to let JAM (that’s my awesome new Jack/Sam ‘ship name) be a thing?

stargatedivideandcounquer

Not-so-important questions raised by this episode and never answered:
Why is Freya/Anise wearing a latex (or maybe pleather?) outfit with a bustier and some kind of weird belt/strap thing going on?

Does Daniel Jackson’s forehead ever get tired from all the brow furrowing he does?

Why did Teal’c go through a blonde goatee period?

Did Stargate have to pay The Simpsons for every use of “Doh!” that O’Neill used in the show?

What the heck is up with Major Carter’s hair?

 

“I didn’t leave, because I’d have rather died myself than lose Carter.” – Col. Jack ‘Never Jonathon’ O’Neill

– Mia V.

*Watch two episodes of Stargate SG-1 every Sunday from 7-9p on ThisTV! ‘Divide and Conquer’ airs Sunday 7/6 at 7pm!

ThisTV Movie Review: Short Circuit

41J58RCYG9L._SY300_I had a giant crush on Steve Guttenberg when I was younger.

Don’t judge me. He was the Man in the 80s.

Police Academy. Three Men and a Baby. Cocoon. That crazy Village People movie (watch paired with Xanadu as it was meant to be seen, and then ask yourself “why?” while curled up in the fetal position).

Steve Guttenberg was hilarious but nice and always getting one up on the buttholes of the world. He might not have been as handsome as Tom Selleck or famous as Ted Danson. But he was still adorable and I still kind of adored him.

At least until I fell madly in love with Kyle MacLachlan, but that is another story for another time.

Short Circuit is probably my favorite of the Steve Guttenberg oeuvre. Here he gets a chance to play the romantic leading man with only a robot that has achieved consciousness to rival him. It’s no wonder he ends up getting the girl in the end. How can a robot compete with all that ‘Gute’ charm, after all?

The plot basically breaks down like this: Because it’s the 80s and it is pretty much required by law, a robotics company has used a nerdy genius’s genius to create killer robots that can be shipped out to the front lines in battle scenarios. He isn’t terribly impressed by this but is going along with it anyway because plot development. A flashy twist of fate changes all that when robot Number 5 is struck by lightning and becomes self-aware. He escapes the clutches of his creators and goes on a journey of self-discovery that includes a fair amount of disco dancing, bug squashing, bad driving, Three Stooges hijinks, military shoot outs, and Ally Sheedy.

I must have seen this movie dozens of times while growing up, and I’ve seen it at least a half dozen times since reaching adulthood. It’s just so dang cute. Number Five is a messy, curious, dangerous but ultimately lovable character. Ally Sheedy is cute and maternal and willing to put up with Number Five and all the danger he brings with him. And, of course, Steve Guttenberg is adorable as an anti-social geek forced to head out into the big bad world and interact with not only a robot who is bucking his programming but a perky young lady he (almost immediately) has the hots for.

Short_Circuit_Still_08Of course as I’ve gotten older I’ve noticed the Important Messages scattered throughout this little family flick. The questions of what makes us human, where the line exists between ‘alive’ and ‘not alive,’ and how responsible we are for the beings we create that see themselves as individuals are very much apparent now that I’m focusing more on the story and less on the fact that a robot is driving a food truck (very badly).

But luckily with a great soundtrack, special effects that hold up surprisingly well, computer interfaces that are totally dated, and a healthy dose of Steve Guttenberg throughout, Short Circuit is just too dang cute to be dragged down by those Important Messages.

– Mia V.

Short Circuit, Rated PG, 1986
Starring Steve Guttenberg, Ally Sheedy, Fisher Stevens, GW Bailey
Directed by John Badham
Written by SS Wilson, Brent Maddock

*Watch Short Circuit on ThisTV: Friday 6/20 at 7p, Sunday 6/22 at 11a

 

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ThisTV Movie Review: Flash Gordon

flashgordonWhat can I say about 1980’s Flash Gordon?

It is beautifully campy.

It is full of critically acclaimed actors taking on less than critically acclaimed roles (seriously Max Von Sydow, how do you go from The Seventh Seal and The Exorcist to Flash Gordon?).

It is covered in matte paintings and spandex and glitter and laser guns that make that fabulous ‘pew pew pew’ sound.

Queen did the soundtrack. QUEEN! And dang if the main theme song isn’t catchy as all get out.

It’s got fantasy. It’s got science fiction. It’s got a super hero with absolutely no super powers except fabulous hair and the ability to get himself in some really stupid situations.

Basically Flash Gordon is just a big ol’ beautiful mess and way more fun to watch than any movie this ridiculous should be.

still-of-sam-j-jones-in-flash-gordon-1980-flash-aaa-aahh-saviour-of-the-universe-againThe plot basically breaks down like this: Ming the Merciless is being his merciless best and attacking Earth for no other reason than he’s bored (dude, seriously, that just isn’t cool). Football star Flash Gordon (Sam J. Jones) and plucky reporter Dale Arden (Melody Anderson), along with super scientist Dr. Hans Zarkov (Topol – because Fiddler on the Roof was a long time ago I guess), get sucked into Ming’s nefarious plot and the next thing you know sexy Princess Aura (Ornella Muti) is coming between the budding Flash/Dale relationship, Brian Blessed is running around in wings and leather underpants (as Prince Vultan) and Timothy Dalton is doing his best soundrel-y Robin Hood impression (as Prince Barin). Lots of yelling, running, shooting, flying, falling, fighting, and outfit changes ensue as our erstwhile heroes try to stop Ming and save the world.

Flash Gordon was released at a time when everyone seemed to be trying to get in on the Star Wars/Superman bandwagon. It was big and expensive and loud and explosive and had just about every element it could grab from the science fiction/fantasy/superhero genres stuffed inside it. The plot is all over the place as if it can’t decide where it’s going. The dialogue is awkward and clunky at best (though Max Von Sydow sure does try to make the most of his Evil Overlord speeches) and the chemistry between our titular hero and his lady love is pretty much non-existent.

Yet for all the (I’m sure unintended) silliness, this remains a film that is just so much fun to watch. Brian Blessed and Timothy Dalton chew up their scenes like no one’s business. The bright colors and shiny bedazzled costumes are almost mesmerizing in their late 70’s, early 80’s splendor. Sam J. Jones is as earnest as earnest can be while playing the part of a dumb beefcake tasked with something way out of his league.

And that Queen soundtrack is just delightful as delightful can be.

– Mia V.

Flash Gordon, Rated PG, 1980
Starring Sam J Jones, Melody Anderson, Max von Sydow, Topol
Directed by Mike Hodges
Written by Lorenzo Semple Jr (screenplay), Michael Alin (adaptation)

*Watch Flash Gordon on ThisTV, Tuesday 6/10 at 3p, Thursday 6/26 at 8:30a

 

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ThisTV Movie Review: Christine

JohnCarpenterCHRISTINE_1024_3If you look at John Carpenter’s Christine one way, you might see a haunted house/object story. If you look at it another way, you might see all the trappings of a creature feature – minus the creature and plus an evil car. If you squint at it really hard, you may just see a cautionary tale of what happens when you don’t heed the warnings of family and friends. And if you just take a cynical glance at it, all you may see is a campy 80’s horror flick with comely young stars and a demonic old car out to murder people.

Christine is really all of those things (and maybe none of those things). The movie starts off on an assembly line where the titular vehicle tastes first blood. There is no ambiguity about this beautiful car’s demonic nature. And even when Arnie (Keith Gordon), one of our erstwhile teen protagonists, meets her for the first time he is told – very clearly to his face – that she was a car that was ‘born bad.’ He doesn’t listen, even when his best friend (John Stockwell) and parents make their objections to his purchase of her loudly and emphatically known. Angst of the bullying, dating, and family drama follow closely behind that purchase. As does dismemberment and death of course. Because Christine is a lady that doesn’t take an insult to herself or her new owner lying down (standing in park?).

The 80s were a prime period for Stephen King movie adaptations. Christine, along with Pet Semetary and Cujo, are some of the best of the films made from his books. The special effects are kept to a minimum (seriously all you need for a killer car is to black out the windshield so you can’t tell someone is driving her and BAM! – evil ghost car on the loose), the story follows the original text relatively closely, the soundtrack is stellar (in large part due to the integration of music in the novel) and the film takes itself only as seriously as it absolutely has to. It also takes the time to focus not just on the obvious Big Bad (that luscious red Plymouth Fury) but the deeper horror elements integral to the novel but easily overlooked on the big screen.

MMDCHRI EC002Killer cars are scary, sure, but what is scarier is the idea that you can know someone, like someone, LOVE someone, their whole life, and then turn around one day and realize they’ve become a total stranger to you. At the heart of Christine are two teenage boys who have been best friends forever, who have had each other’s backs over the years no matter what, and who find themselves torn apart the second that car comes into their lives. There are some metaphors for life here that we should all be aware of, but you can watch and figure them out for yourselves.

Is Christine the greatest horror film in the history of ever? Nope. Is it the greatest Stephen King adaptation in the history of adaptations? Not really. Is it still an excellent 80’s horror film with a sexy monster/haunted object/Big Bad and relatable characters and a brilliant soundtrack and some great moments of revenge? Totally. So is it worth your time to watch it? I’d say so.

– Mia V.

Christine, Rated R, 1983
Starring Keith Gordon, Dean Stockwell, Alexandra Paul
Directed by John Carpenter
Written by Stephen King, Bill Phillips

 

*Watch Christine on ThisTV on Tuesday, June 3rd at 3pm!

 

 

(SOURCE – images: thetimewarriors.co.uk, threesecondsofdeadair.files.wordpress.com)