David Keith and his wife Heather Locklear participated in LSD experiments in college which turned them into psychics who can “push” people into doing their bidding. (Every time Keith pushes someone he looks like he’s got a migraine and has a nosebleed.) They have a daughter (Drew Barrymore) who can start fires with her mind and naturally, the government wants to use her as a weapon. After the government stooges murder Heather, they come after Keith and Barrymore. Whenever the bad guys close in on them, Barrymore sets everybody on fire with her noggin and turns them into toasted marshmallows.
Firestarter was probably my least favorite Stephen King novel as it seemed more like a hodgepodge of ideas rather than an actual story. The movie is more or less faithful to the book, but this is one time when the screenwriter should’ve taken a few liberties with the material. The laboratory scenes where Martin Sheen straps little electrodes onto Barrymore’s head and does experiments on her are dull and the flick is pretty lifeless whenever something isn’t getting burned up. Also, the Tangerine Dream score is awful. Awful.
Mark L. Lester directs the picture in a flat, workmanlike style with none of the zest and energy he would later bring to such classics like Commando and Showdown in Little Tokyo. While the scenes of random government agents turning into baked
Acting wise, Barrymore is pretty much the whole show. She isn’t bad as the precocious prepubescent pyrokinetic, although it’s freaking hilarious when she sets people on fire. Her hair flies all around and she gets this look on her face that she just ate too many Pop Rocks or something. That’s pretty classic. As her father, Keith is more or less a non-entity in the film and Sheen is bland as the man in charge of “The Shop”. George C. Scott is quite memorable and gets some good moments as Rainbird, the Indian agent who gives thoughtful monologues about brutally killing Barrymore with a karate chop across the nose.
’84 also saw the release of another so-so Stephen King flick, Children of the Corn.