Firestarter (film)

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Theatrical release poster
Directed by Mark L. Lester
Produced by
Screenplay by Stanley Mann
Based on Firestarter 
by Stephen King
Music by Tangerine Dream
Cinematography Giuseppe Ruzzolini
Edited by
  • David Rawlins
  • Ronald Sanders
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release dates
  • May 11, 1984 (1984-05-11)
Running time
114 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $15 million
Box office $17,080,167 (US)[2]

Firestarter is a 1984 American science fiction thriller film based on Stephen King's 1980 Firestarter.[3] The plot concerns a young girl who develops pyrokinesis and the secret government agency known as The Shop which seeks to control her. The film was directed by Mark L. Lester, and stars David Keith, Drew Barrymore, Martin Sheen and George C. Scott. The film was shot in and around Wilmington, Chimney Rock, and Lake Lure, North Carolina.

A miniseries follow-up to the film, titled Firestarter: Rekindled, was released in 2002 on the Sci-Fi Channel.


Andy McGee met his future wife, Vicky Tomlinson, in college while they were earning money by participating in an experiment in which they were given a dose of a low-grade hallucinogen called LOT-6. The experiment grants Vicky the ability to read minds; Andy can make people do and believe what he wants, but the effort gives him nosebleeds (the novel revealing them to be "pinprick" hemhorrages). Andy and Vicky went on to get married, and they now have a 9-year-old daughter named Charlene "Charlie" McGee, who can start fires with just one glance, and also predict the near future.

Andy comes home from work one day to find that Vicky has been tortured and murdered; the family had already suspected that the government agency that sponsored the experiment, the Department of Scientific Intelligence (aka "The Shop"), was checking on them. The government wants to capture Charlie and harness her powerful firestarting ability as a weapon. Andy rescues Charlie from abduction by agents of The Shop. He makes the agents blind and for the next year they are on the run.

To protect themselves, Andy writes letters to major newspapers, but mailing them reveals their location. The Shop sends the one-eyed agent John Rainbird to capture them and stop the mail. At the Shop's facility, father and daughter are kept separated. Andy is medicated, and subjected to tests, which show his powers have decreased. Meanwhile, Rainbird takes the role of "John the friendly orderly" to befriend Charlie and encourage her to submit to tests.

Charlie's demonstrated powers increase exponentially, and she continually demands to see her father. Andy stops swallowing his drugs and slowly recovers his power, which he uses to influence Captain Hollister to arrange an escape from the facility. Charlie tells "John" about the escape, and he makes sure to be there. On his way to rendezvous with Charlie at the facility's stables, Andy learns about Rainbird's ruse, and reveals it to her. Andy forces Hollister to shoot at Rainbird; Rainbird kills Hollister and fatally wounds Andy, then is burned to death by Charlie. With his dying breath, Andy tells Charlie to destroy the facility and run, and she does, leaving the facility up in flames, killing many people. Shortly afterwards, Charlie (who has returned to the Manders farm) heads to New York City to tell her story to the media.



Firestarter received mixed reviews from critics. It has a 39% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.[4]


1984 LP album cover
Soundtrack album by Tangerine Dream
Released 1984
Recorded 1984
Genre Electronic music
Length 41:39
Label MCA
Tangerine Dream chronology

Allmusic rated this soundtrack four out of five stars.[5] The score is composed by electronic music group Tangerine Dream.

No. Title Length
1. "Crystal Voice"   3:07
2. "The Run"   4:50
3. "Testlab"   4:00
4. "Charly the Kid"   3:51
5. "Escaping Point"   5:10
6. "Rainbirds Move"   2:31
7. "Burning Force"   4:17
8. "Between Realities"   2:53
9. "Shop Territory"   3:15
10. "Flash Final"   5:15
11. "Out of the Heat"   2:30


  1. ^ "FIRESTARTER (15)". British Board of Film Classification. May 15, 1984. Retrieved January 24, 2015. 
  2. ^ "Firestarter (1984)|". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved August 11, 2011. 
  3. ^ Canby, Vincent (1984). "Firestarter". The New York Times. 
  4. ^ Rotten Tomatoes page: "Firestarter."
  5. ^ Allmusic review

External links[edit]