If you live in the world of Stephen King and meet Martin Sheen, run the other way. He’s never a positive person. That’s the life lesson that Firestarter has taught me.
During the filming of The Thing, Universal offered this movie to John Carpenter, but when that failed — you know that story — they gave it to Mark Lester. Did it work? Well, King told American Film that the movie was “flavorless; it’s like cafeteria mashed potatoes.”
When Andy (David Keith) and Vicky (Heather Locklear) were in college, they earned extra cash by getting dosed with LOT-6, a drug that gave him the ability to take over minds and her the talent of reading people’s thoughts. Once they had Charlie (Drew Barrymore), she could see into the near future and start fires with a thought.
Of course, The Shop created her and they want her back. Everyone in this government group is horrible, from Sheen to John Rainbird (George C. Scott), who comes off as a grandfather but is the worst of them all.
Tangerine Dream composed the music for this film and if you’re wondering, “How does the crew at B&S About Movies feel about Tangerine Dream?” the answer is, “We did an entire week of their movies and you can read about it here.”
They composed the music without ever seeing the movie. They sent no directions to Lester, only a note that said “use the music wherever you like, it fits wherever you want it to.” As he was editing it into the movie, he was shocked. Their music really did fit anywhere he placed it.
Another question you may ask is, “Didn’t Stranger Things pretty much rip off most of this?” The answer would be, “Well, they ripped off a lot of things.” When they eventually remake this, I can’t wait for the hot take articles about how King ripped off Netflix.
Disproving my theory that Old Hollywood only wants to sacrifice you to Satan, the only nice people other than our heroine and her parents are the Manders, played by Art Carney and Louise Fletcher, who is much kinder here than she was in Flowers in the Attic.
While Charlie was modeled on King’s daughter Naomi, Barrymore feels that she was born to play this role, as she resembled the girl on the cover of the book. Barrymore said, “When I read it, I came into the kitchen where my mom was making dinner and said: “‘I’m the Firestarter. I’m Charlie McGee!” But she didn’t know what I was talking about.”
This was the first of many films that built the film industry in Wilmington, North Carolina. You should also look out for two versions of Michael Myers in this movie, both Dick Warlock and George P. Wilbur.