If I Do Something Bad Will You Still Love Me? Firestarter Blu-ray Review + Screenshots

Playing with Fire: The Making of Firestarter (52m 40s, HD)

A laid-back look back at the making of Firestarter. Director Mark L. Lester gives us a history of how the film came to be including how John Carpenter was the original director and that his script had almost nothing to do with the book it was based on. Actors Freddie Jones and Drew Snyder talk about their roles and working with Lester and Drew Barrymore. Stuntman/actor Dick Warlock talks a lot about the fire stunts done in the film and even shows off an award that he won for the stunts. Johannes Schmoelling, from Tangerine Dream, talks about working with Lester and how he came up with the score. It should be noted that Schmoelling segment is in German with English subtitles.

Tangerine Dreams: Movie Music Memories (17m 7s, HD)

Johannes Schmoelling gives a very intimate history of the band, Tangerine Dream, and how they got into film scoring. He does speak at length about working on Michael Mann’s Thief. This is a good look at one of the best film composers of all time.

Johannes Schmoelling of Tangerine Dream Plays “Charlie’s Theme” (2m 33s, HD)

I was hoping to see some of the synthesizer score in action, but hearing the theme on a piano is the next best thing.

Theatrical Trailers (3m 43s, HD)

Here we have two trailers: one in the film’s original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and the other is in a 1.66:1.

Radio Spots (4m 34s, HD)

We get six radio spots and any reader of this site knows how much I love radio spots. These are in good quality and are easy to hear.

Still Gallery

The stills are played at an even pace or you can go through them one by one.

Commentary with director Mark L. Lester

Lester tells many of the same stories that are told in the doc found on the disc, but there are a number of times when Lester seems to be watching the film instead of talking about it. It is a shame that there is no moderator here as the track could have been a lot better.

The disc is REGION A (locked)

Shout! has given the film a new 2K transfer of the interpositive film elements and it looks really good. Colors are nice and skin tones are accurate. Blacks are deep and there is a thin layer of grain. The whole thing has a very film-like feel to it. Detail is high too especially in close-ups and medium shots.

Firestarter is presented in its original mono recording, but something feels off about this track. Everything seems to be quieter than it should be. I found the dialogue hard to hear at times and had to turn up the sound. The effects don’t have the weight that they should. The only thing that comes out without too many hits is the score from Tangerine Dream. While the dialogue is hard to hear sometimes, nothing is distorted.

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, Charlie, who has the ability to start fires by merely thinking about it, also known as pyrokinesis. Naturally, the government takes a great interest in Charlie, and operatives from the secret department known as "The Shop" want to quarantine and study her.

Stephen King loves to give his characters some type of superhuman power. Carrie had telekinesis, Danny from The Shining had...well, the shining, and Silver Bullet had Gary Busey who is a superhuman power all his own. Firestarter has two people with powers. Andy (David Keith) has a form of telekinesis and his daughter, played by Drew Barrymore, is the film’s titular character. And those thinking that there might not be enough fire in this film, all you have to remember that this film was made during the 80’s so there is more than enough fire. The film definitely lives up to its name.

The film starts in the middle of Andy and Charlie escaping from a government agency that gave them their powers. We get to see both using their powers in these opening sequences, with Andy using his powers to convince the pay phone to give him all of its quarters and Charlie uses her powers to light a soldier’s feet on fire after he tells his pregnant girlfriend that he is not going to help with the child that he helped create.

These opening sequences have a very 70’s feel to them as they just throw us into the middle of a situation and have to figure out what is going on. Director Mark L. Lester is more than game when it comes to giving us the information we need without shoving it down our throats. We know that our two main characters are running from men in three-piece suits and that they can make things happen with their minds. That is really all of the info that we need and it feels good not to be looked down upon by a film’s director.

For everything good that film does during its first half, the film’s second half does as much as it can to destroy it. Andy and Charlie are captured after being shot with darts by George C. Scott, who seems to be having a bit of fun with his character.

The big chunk of this second half deals with the three-piece suit men trying to convince Charlie to use her powers on sticks, bricks, and water, all from the safety of science rooms. They convince her to do this by having Scott become her friend by cleaning her room with an eye-patch. Soon, Charlie is setting fire to things that I didn’t think were flammable and riding horses with her new friend Scott.

Meanwhile, Andy is trying to get out so that he can save Charlie and they can escape into peace in Hawaii. He is fed drugs to suppress his telekinesis. Of course, he is not swallowing the pills and when the suited men ask him to use his powers he pretends to not have them anymore because that is how clever King could get with this character arc.

Eventually, the film has to do what the name promises and does so in the most magnificent way. Charlie lights a bunch of the suited men on fire while throwing fireballs at the others. This scene is so glorious that you want to forgive the middle section of the film for its faults. I couldn’t do this as much as I wanted to no matter how many full body burns were done on screen. All of the fire stunts are breathtaking and put other films from the same time to shame.

Firestarter has a better reputation than it deserves. While the film isn’t a failure, it does fail at various things. Had the middle of the film not drag on for so and be, for a lack of a better, boring, I think that this could have been a classic. The film boasts a ton of name actors and award-winning actors and has a fine director at the helm. The film just doesn’t really do too much with the characters and doesn’t have that many action setpieces. The film is still worth a watch for horror fans and those trying to watch all of the films made of Stephen King’s work.

The blu-ray, from Scream Factory, is nice. The picture and sound quality are both excellent and the special features do entertain and inform. It is a shame that Drew Barrymore, Martin Sheen, and David Keith are not present on any of the special features, but that is just a minor nitpick. This is a good blu-ray that fans of the film will love.

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