Screams From The Crypt: Firestarter

Screams From The Crypt: Firestarter

Almost certainly an attempt to rekindle the success of Stephen King's previously psychically-induced endeavour Carrie, directed by Brian De Palma, Firestarter tells the story of eight-year-old Charlie McKee (Drew Barrymore), who possesses the ability to start fires using only her mind. Her father Andy (David Keith) has abilities too, as does his wife (Heather Locklear), gained after undergoing an experiment gone wrong headed by a government group known as The Shop, who want to use Charlie as a weapon.

For much of its first act, Firestarter is a chase film, only halted in the way of providing numerous past sequences to bring the audience up to speed. The later portions take on an almost Cronenberg-like sensibility, as Charlie is subjected to numerous experiments by The Shop in their facility. Director Mark L. Lester, who took over for director John Carpenter after Universal were not pleased about the dismal reception to The Thing, does a fine job in what's easily his biggest undertaking. It even feels like a Carpenter film at points, down to the synthy stylings of Tangerine Dream. Frustrater itself seems a bit overlong at nearly 2 hours, as some scenes are needlessly overlong and extraneous; with some trimming it could be a more effective thrill ride. The action scenes, flush with pyrotechnic work are its true highlights, as are the performances from Keith and supporting actors Martin Sheen and George C. Scott.

Yet, it's also a major entry in the canon of nostalgia 1980s genre cinema, produced and released in 1984 (arguably the greatest year for movies across the entire decade). Today, it's still as engaging and full of suspense as it was over 30 years ago. I'm sure there's a lot of genre fans who have eagerly waited for a decent release on home media, as both previous releases were barebones (save for a trailer on the DVD).

Scream Factory has done a great job with this new Collector's Edition release, with a brand new 2K remastering job being the best the film has ever looked. The cinematography, especially the sunset-hued look and sweeping extra wide shots, are crisp and full of color. The release also includes a newly audio commentary from director Mark L. Lester, who goes in depth with the making of and gives several great anecdotes and context on the film's making. In addition, a short featurette titled 'Playing With Fire' features interviews with Lester, actors Freddie Jones and Drew Snyder, actor/stuntman Dick Warlock, and Tangerine Dream member Johannes Schmoelling. The theatrical trailer is included here too, as well as original radio spots for those hoping to relive the aura of the film pre-release in 1984.

While Firestarter isn't one of the stronger King adaptations, it's still decent enough to consider a watch as it holds a cult-like connotation in the minds of many viewers. This Scream Factory release is sure to please fans of the film, and is a must-own in that regard for being the best edition released to date. Once again, Scream Factory has done the lord's work in putting something together that's going to make a lot of people happy. 

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