ARROW IN THE HEAD REVIEWS

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Firestarter (1984)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Mark L. Lester

Starring:
Drew Barrymore/Charlie
David Keith/Andrew
Martin Sheen/Captain Hollister
George C. Scott/Rainbird
7 10
PLOT-CRUNCH
Charlie (Barrymore) and her dad Andrew (Keith) are on the run from a shady government unit called “The Shop”. Why? Well, due to some past experiment called “Lot 6”, Andrew is now a powerful psychic and Charlie can start fires and then some with her mind. Don’t piss this toddler off, yo!
THE LOWDOWN
This flick is based on yet another Stephen King book and it was swamped with mediocre reviews upon its initial theatrical release. I, on the other hand, thought it was a solid film that actually got better with age. Then again…I’m an asshole with a penchant for also being an a-hole.

"Firestarter" burned my melon (let's see how many unnecessary fire-related quips I can put in this review) and gave me two hours worth of gnarly entertainment. Its first sizzling flame was the necessary time it took to develop its characters. The relationship between Charlie (Barrymore) and her father (David) was the core of the story and it was crucial that it be treated with the proper amount of depth. Luckily, the film came through in that department and really managed to hit me on an emotional level. Was that a tear in the corner of my eye? No, it was the saliva that my ex-girlfriend spat in my face but hey...I was still touched by the film.

To add fuel to the fire, the strong villains in this show also helped make the happenings more engaging. If it wasn’t Martin Sheen (Hollister) destroying the scenery like an acting wrecking ball (fun stuff) it was George C. Scott (Rainbird) playing one sick bastard and bringing all kinds of shite to the table. Sure, I didn’t buy him as a Native Indian (talk about miscasting), but that didn’t change the fear factor I had when it came to his nutty self and his tension-filled relationship with Charlie. That dude’s got issues.

Tag to all that, some suspenseful moments, Drew Barrymore’s spot-on acting (She used to know how to act?? Who knew??), some slick directing (loved the wind blowing in Charlie’s hair when she got all fired up) and a finale that had me barking like “Benji” with an enema up his "benji" and you get a fierce bonfire of fun for all the right reasons. A word on the ending if I may: If you dig fireball torpedoes up the wazoo and enjoy seeing dudes fly in the air while inflamed (I sure do!), you’ll have a rockin' good time in this inferno. Sure, I felt shades of King’s "Carrie" when it came to the conclusion, but I personally found the "Firestarter" carnage more fun to watch and definitely more enthralling than what PMS chick accomplished in Carrie.

Now I do have some meat to broil on this one’s back. I did find that the pace tended to drag a bit at times and that the action was sometimes not as exciting as it should’ve been. I’m not sure if that had to do with the editing or the occasional TV movie-like directing, but this drink needed more spiking in parts. I also didn’t really groove on the final frame of the film. It felt too convenient and was far from satisfying; especially taking into account the insane inferno I was taken through beforehand.

But when all was said and burnt to a crisp, "Firestarter" wound up being quite a fulfilling watch all around. It has a strong script, decent directing, a kick ass score (Tangerine Dream does it again), gripping drama, some good ideas (loved the fake city) and a badass finale that had me grinning like a girl scout giving away her cookies for a nickel. Let’s go pyro on this mofo!
GORE
The flick isn’t too gory. We do get a dude with his eyes bursting out, a violent (and bloody) whack on the nose and lots of fire mayhem though. I’ve never seen men fly in the air while burning like marshmallows dipped in gasoline. WOW!
ACTING
Young Drew Barrymore (Charlie) was solid as the troubled youth. She hit all the right emotional notes. David Keith (Andrew) looked like Patrick Swayze and delivered a strong show. Martin Sheen (Captain Hollister) played this part in "The Dead Zone" before and he was good at it here too. Nobody yells like this guy! George C. Scott (Rainbird) was at his creepiest, but I didn’t think he looked like an Indian (he’s supposed to be one). Art Carney (Irv) did a wonderful job in tackling his thinly written part and giving it substance. Louise Fletcher (Norma) was just there and did what she had to do…not much. Heather Locklear (Vicky) also showed up, more of a cameo than a part. And yes, she looked FINE!
T & A
None to be found here, back to my local retirement home I go…for some expired poontang.
DIRECTING
Lester’s directing is fairly bland at times, but he does pull off a couple of stylish scenes. I dug his use of close-ups, some of his shot compositions, the effective slow motion, the way he treated his flashbacks and of course, the wind blowing in Charlie’s hair when she started burning shite down. It could’ve been tighter, but the film still worked.
SOUNDTRACK
When Tangerine Dream puts out a movie score, you know you’re in good hands. The one in this movie doesn’t beat their "Near Dark" score, but it still came through gangbusters and gave the flick that extra dimension. I love their shite!
BOTTOM LINE
"Firestarter" has a lot going for it. It has strong characters, captivating villains, Drew Barrymore when she was cute, sometimes very moody directing, a score that I must own and a cap-off that’s all about fireballs and mass destruction. If you dig Stephen King and like your slaughter on the hot side, check this baby out. You’ll definitely find something to lap up here. I’m going to go burn my room down now…with me in it.
BULL'S EYE
This film was shot in North Carolina, USA.

Mark L. Lester also directed "Commando" and "Class of 1984".

NOTE: I counted “9” unnecessary fire-related quips in this review. YEAH!
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