Firestarter (1984)

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Firestarter (1984)

Post  BoG on Sat Mar 13, 2010 12:59 pm

This adapts one of Stephen King's novels but it was not one of King's usual horror stories. This involves the uber-human concept - humans with superhuman powers a la The X-Men - as interpreted by King and his dark sensibilities; so, similar to Carrie. It also contains King's version of the shadow government within the U.S. government, the secret / conspiracy angle. So, there's a lot of stealth, a lot of chasing and a lot of unscrupulous characters.
The character who most viewers probably remember best is George C. Scott's; he plays a government assassin with an American Indian background. This was Scott, after all, famous for big roles like Patton, and here he was playing this ruthless, twisted killer who fantasizes about killing a little girl. OK, not just any girl - she's the Firestarter of the title, able to cause any object to spontaneously combust. This was an early role for Drew Barrymore, who got her start in E.T. (1982). She's on the run with her father (David Keith), who can control minds, but the effort causes him nosebleeds and probably damages his own brain. He and his wife (Heather Locklear) were subjects in a secret government experiment. Their offspring, a Firestarter, is sought for possible super weapons use, natch.
This had a fairly big cast: Martin Sheen (also in The Dead Zone) is the head bad government man; Freddie Jones is the scientist; Art Carney & Louise Fletcher pop up as the (too few) kindly elder characters. But, none of them seem to be employed to their best potential. It sort of boils down to Scott's final confrontation with the fiery girl (King uses Indian lore about gaining power from slaying your enemy, so that's why Scott is so excited about eventually killing her). The finale is pretty spectacular, with the full potential of pyrokinesis on display (even bullets are ineffective due to the heat manipulation). There was a TV sequel in 2002. BoG's Score: 6.5 out of 10

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