Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Firestarter

US movie (1984). Universal/Dino De Laurentiis. Pr Frank Capra Jr. Dir Mark L Lester. Spfx Jeff Jarvis, Mike Wood. Screenplay Stanley Mann. Based on Firestarter (1980) by Stephen King. Starring Drew Barrymore (Charlie McGee), Art Carney (Irv Manders), Antonio Fargas (Taxi Driver), Louise Fletcher (Norma Manders), Moses Gunn (Dr Herman Pynchot), Freddie Jones (Dr Joseph Wanless), David Keith (Andy McGee), Heather Locklear (Vicky McGee), George C Scott (John Rainbird), Martin Sheen (Captain Hollister). 114 mins. Colour.

Vicky and Andy met when paid subjects of an experiment on a supposed hallucinogen done by The Shop, a covert US Government agency; as a result they gained moderate psi Talents of telepathy. Their daughter Charlie inherits these talents in extreme form, and is capable of pyrokinesis – indeed, she has difficulty controlling it. Agents of The Shop try to seize her, killing Vicky; Andy and Charlie go on the run but are eventually captured by The Shop's psychopathic assassin Rainbird. Charlie's last act before escaping is to ignite The Shop's HQ and large numbers of its employees.

This all sounds very familiar if one knows The Fury (1976) by John Farris or the movie based on it, The Fury (1978); it has been reported that King wrote his version because dissatisfied with that movie's treatment of the theme. It is ironic, then, that F is certainly the lesser of the two movies – and lesser, too, than Carrie (1976). Although the climactic scene of the small girl advancing slowly across The Shop's estate spreading devastation on all sides is curiously impressive, and although Scott is good as the genial psychopath, F lacks original ideas. [JG]

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This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.