May 11th, 1984



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Drew Barrymore, George C. Scott and Curtis Credel in Firestarter

A couple who participated in a potent medical experiment gain telekinetic ability and then have a child who is pyrokinetic.

Release Year: 1984

Rating: 5.8/10 (11,254 voted)

Director: Mark L. Lester

Stars: Drew Barrymore, David Keith, Freddie Jones

Andrew and Vicky McGee met while earning money as guinea pigs for an experiment at college. The experiment was shrouded in suspicion and mystery, and seemed to be related to psychic abilities. The two were married and had a daughter Charile, who has the ability to start fires by merely thinking about it. Naturally, the government takes a great interest in Charlie, and operatives from the secret department known as "The Shop" want to quarrantine and study her.

Writers: Stephen King, Stanley Mann

David Keith - Andrew 'Andy' McGee
Drew Barrymore - Charlene 'Charlie' McGee
Freddie Jones - Doctor Joseph Wanless
Heather Locklear - Victoria 'Vicky' Tomlinson McGee
Martin Sheen - Captain Hollister
George C. Scott - John Rainbird
Art Carney - Irv Manders
Louise Fletcher - Norma Manders
Moses Gunn - Doctor Pynchot
Antonio Fargas - Taxi Driver
Drew Snyder - Orville Jamieson
Curtis Credel - Bates
Keith Colbert - Mayo
Dick Warlock - Knowles (as Richard Warlock)
Jeff Ramsey - Steinowitz

Taglines: She has the power . . . an evil destructive force.

Release Date: 11 May 1984

Filming Locations: Chimney Rock Park - Highway 64/74A, Chimney Rock, North Carolina, USA

Box Office Details

Budget: $15,000,000 (estimated)

Gross: $15,100,000 (USA)

Technical Specs

Runtime:  | Germany:

Did You Know?

Martin Sheen took over at a late stage from Burt Lancaster who had to withdraw following heart surgery.

Crew or equipment visible: When Charlie throws the three agents in silver fire suits out of the barn after setting them on fire, the wires used to pull them back are clearly visible as the barn door breaks.

Irv Manders: You men are tresspassin. Show me a warrant or get off my land.
Agent: We don't need a warrant.
Irv Manders: You do unless I woke up in Russia this morning!

User Review

One of the more accessible King adaptations, but best if you enjoyed the book

Rating: 7/10

Firestarter is the story of Charlie (Drew Barrymore at age 8) and Andy, her dad (David Keith), and the people who are trying to imprison, control and/or kill them (Martin Sheen, George C. Scott, Moses Gunn, and others). Charlie is a mutant. Her father and mother were part of an experiment on mutagenic substances performed on college students in the 1960s by The Shop. The experiment gave Andy the ability to control others minds, but the mutation, apparently dormant in his wife, was passed on through the sex chromosome to his daughter. Charlie, quite plainly, can combust virtually anything with her mind.

Though all the acting in this film is good, Barrymore and Scott are truly awesome. Scott plays a brilliant sociopath, and can go from a kindly old Viet Nam vet to a ruthless killer with one quick change of facial expression. And Barrymore (at the age of 8, if you didn't pick up on that the first time I said it) gives her character a fully believable person-hood with great depth.

Like the novel, this is more of a horror-thriller than classic King ghost stories - like The Shining. It is also less classic King horror - like Carrie. And its also not a great drama like Dolores Claiborne, Misery and Stand By Me. Though it fits into roughly the same category as Hearts in Atlantis, it is not a literary as this much later King work and the characters are not as well developed. Although the book could be said to be one of King's earlier experiments with what would become a formula for his lesser works, King's writing is so lucid, and his characters are so interesting, believable and nicely examined, that his 'B fiction' is still somewhat above the average best-seller. The film follows the book very closely, and, like the book, is sort of a prototype for the more formulaic films in the King portfolio.

The directing is very good, the cinematography (especially the effects) is excellent, and the film is, as a whole entertaining. But, for those who have not read the book, the film will likely come off as 'no big deal.' As with many of the more formulaic King-derived films, this is best seen as a cathartic summary of the original work (like Dreamcatchers, Running Man, The Stand, Maximum Overdrive, The Mangler and others).


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