Firestarter (1984) Recap

Jamie

This is the firestarter, the twisted firestarter. This is the trouble starter, pumpkin investigator… alright maybe I slightly changed that last part. I feel like I can just spend this whole spot on Firestarter by The Prodigy lyrics (both right and wrong) since the primary post is for the 2022 remake and I’ll talk about all the Stephen King, remake, Zac Efron boringness there. Here I can just mention how I’m the fear addicted, a danger illustrated and get on with it. Really dive in on how I’m the pain you tasted, fell intoxicated and all that. Just normal things normal people say… the self inflicted, mind detonator, yeah.

To recap, Andy and his daughter Charlie are on the run from some G-men. They both have powers (Andy psychic and Charlie pyrokinetic) and use these to escape and find their way to a kindly old man’s farm. We learn in flashback that Charlie and his wife were part of a college experiment that went awry (or went as planned, I guess) and they’ve been living under the watch of the government ever since. Unfortunately, Charlie is growing stronger and The Shop decides it’s time to bring her in and see what she can do. Maybe they can even relaunch the program. Back in the present, as they try to snatch them from the farm, Charlie lights the G-men ablaze and they escape once again. Realizing just how powerful she is, The Shop sends an assassin named Rainbird after them. He tracks them to a small lake house and is able to subdue them. At The Shop they keep Andy drugged while testing Charlie. Rainbird takes it upon himself to befriend Charlie under the guise of a kind janitor. His plan seems real gross, but don’t worry, he explains that really he just wants to eventually lull Charlie into a sense of security so he can karate chop her in the face to death. Phew. That’s better. Eventually Andy is able to overcome the drugs and sets up a plan to get Charlie and him out of there. Unfortunately Rainbird catches wind of it and kills Andy before they can escape. When he tries to kill Charlie she is able to stop the bullets and create Rainbird flambe out of him. She then leaves The Shop and numerous people charred ruins in her wake. She arrives back at the kindly farmer’s house who helps her get to the newspaper so that she can reveal The Shop’s sins. THE END.

Unexpectedly decent is how I would describe this film. I didn’t have much hope at the start. David Keith is there with a crazy bushy mullet and George C. Scott appears to be playing a Native American character. He looks like Steven Seagal… and like Steven Seagal now, not from the 90’s. Barrymore is still very young and it almost looks like a TV movie. All this probably has you thinking it’s horrible. But it’s really not. It has some nice scenery and cuts pretty close to what is a good King book. Then we get to the big finish and really I was pretty impressed. Lots of stunts. Lots of fire. I thought the ending was a bunch of fun. So it ultimately kind of delivered. Add in a few more Rainbird face chops and I would have been a happy camper. Not the worst at all. So really what’s the worst that can happen with a remake, right?… Right?

Hot Take Clam Bake! That big story that Charlie is shopping around about The Shop? Ain’t gonna work, bro. What are you gonna do walk in there and say “check out my powers?” Cause there ain’t other evidence you have. The Shop is burned down. Even if it wasn’t I’m sure it technically doesn’t exist anyway. The college drug test your dad did? Scrubbed clean. You have to show dem powers and it’s gonna be real scary. They will not know what to do with you which means you’ll be right back in a bigger and badder Shop. Now you don’t even have Rainbird to karate chop his way in there and save you… you killed him… which is what everyone else will assume you are aiming to do to them. Now you got two choices: become America’s weapon or get tranquilized till you can’t use your powers anymore. Weapon here you come. Firestarter 2: America’s Weapon here we come. Hot Take Temperature: Rocotillo.

Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Firestarter? I hardly knew’er! Amirite? Let’s go!

  • This movie ain’t that bad. Just a bit boring.
  • But man, young Drew Barrymore had it didn’t she! It is incredibly hard to imagine that kids like Macaulay Culkin and Drew Barrymore could exist. Genuine like 8 year old movie stars. But then again … I’m not sure either of them would necessarily say their child stardom was a good or healthy thing, so maybe we can chaulk it up to the late 80s being a wild time and just appreciate that these performances exist.
  • John Rainbird is a pretty amazing villain. Ebert mistakenly describes him as a pedophile. I don’t think he ever was in the book, and he clearly isn’t in the movie either. It is possible the scene in which Rainbird explains why he wants Charlie was added after the fact, so maybe Ebert could be forgiven, but his motivation is even more bonkers than that: he wants to karate chop Drew Barrymore in the face to gain her magic powers in the afterlife. Honestly … if that was in the movie I don’t know how Ebert could have missed it, it was a real WTF moment for me.
  • Does in media res rarely work? I can’t really recall. I think it works here, although flashbacks do a lot of heavy lifting for the first half of the film. I feel like it works here because it gives a reason for Charlie’s father to be breaking down, and brings the characters to The Shop much quicker.
  • Martin Sheen is great. Also a great villain.
  • And the idea of “bah, she’s a little girl, what could she do? We’ll just teach her and everything will be peachy keen” and the crazy Loomis-esque scientist saying “SHE COULD CRACK THE WORLD IN HALF!” works well for me. Even this movie doesn’t know how powerful the Firestarter is.
  • So yeah, I liked the movie. Even if it (1) isn’t a very good horror film if that was what it was going for, (2) it is a bit plodding, (3) the flashbacks were a bit much, and (4) it ultimately is a bit boring when taken as a whole. Still liked it.
  • I think Worst Twist (How?) for the non-twist of Charlie burning The Shop to the ground is the only (weak) superlative I would lob out there. Easily closest to Good, I liked this film.

Hear about Firestarter: The Television Series in the Quiz. Cheerios,

The Sklogs

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