Andy McGee (David Keith) and his daughter Charlene “Charlie” (Drew Barrymore) are trying to evade some government men from an organization called The Department of Scientific Intelligence, nicknamed The Shop. Andy grabs a cab. He hands the driver a dollar bill and tells him it’s a five hundred dollar bill. Andy has the ability to make people do whatever he wants them to do by looking into their eyes and thinking about it. He calls the ability a “Push”. The driver speeds off to the airport. In the cab to the airport Andy remembers how it all happened.

In college Andy participated in an experiment where he was given a drug called LOT-6. There were ten people in the experiment. The girl next to Andy was Vicky Tomlinson (Heather Locklear). The experiment gave them both the ability to read minds. The others in the experiment died from hemorrhaging or later from suicide. Andy and Vicky fell in love and married. Their daughter Charlie inherited special abilities. She is a pyrotechnic. Charlie can start fires by just thinking about it. She can also see the near future. Now the Shop wants Charlie.

The shop makes an attempt to kidnap the nine year old child. In the process they kill Vicky. Andy wasn’t at home at the time and neither was Charlie. She was at a neighbor’s. Andy rushes to a neighbor’s house just as the minions from The Shop are chloroforming Charlie. Andy pushes the two men and tells them they are blind. He takes Charlie and runs.

Andy experiences side effects each time he uses his ability. The effort gives him nosebleeds as the result of tiny hemorrhages. It also takes a lot of energy out of him. Andy is starting to get burned out. Overdoing it is causing him to lose his powers. Charlie is still a child and is still learning how to control her abilities. They get stronger as she gets older. The Shop wants Charlie so as to find a way to weaponize her abilities.

Andy and Charlie spend a little time with an older couple, Irv and Norma Manders (Art Carney, Louise Fletcher). When The Shop finds their location they go on the run again. The head of The Shop, Captain James Hollister (Martin Sheen), sends John Rainbird (George C. Scott) to find them and bring them in.

Rainbird is an assassin. He catches up with them and shoots them with tranquilizer darts. Andy and Charlie are taken to The Shop’s compound and are separated. Andy is burnt out and his power is on the fritz for awhile. Rainbird begins a systematic approach to win Charlie’s trust. Without her father to guide her Charlie is vulnerable to his suggestions. Just don’t piss her off.

“Firestarter” was released in 1984 and was directed by Mark L. Lester. It is based on a book by Stephen King and is a Science Fiction/Horror film.

The music was done by Tangerine Dream. They never saw the film but sent completed reels to director Mark Lester with a note stating to insert whatever he wanted wherever he wanted, it fits wherever you want it to. Lester found to his surprise that everything did work practically everywhere.

Outside of a few lulls, especially in the beginning, “Firestarter” is fast paced and action packed. The pyrotechnic special effects are excellent. I’m amazed no stunt men got killed. Drew Barrymore is spectacular as Charlie. The film is full of good actors. George C. Scott is absolutely freaky as John Rainbird.

The best part of the movie is watching nine year old Charlie fry up everything in sight. Even if you try to run, there’s a fireball coming your way. She’s Superman, impervious to bullets once her temperature rises. The arrogance of the secret government agents thinking they can control her is amusing once she gets going and everybody explodes into flames. Sometimes hubris is deadly.