Coincidentally, 1984 was also (ish) the beginning of when Stephen King's works had begun their journey into a new medium. With over 45 of his novels, novellas and short stories adapted for film audiences (I purposely did not count the sequels aside from Creepshow 2, as many were not directly linked to King, nor did I count any of the television series, as I had previously touched on those), the translation of his works has been (for the most part) quite successful. Enough parentheses already! On to the goods!
The early eighties were chock-full of Stephen King's scares, and as each story speaks to us differently as individuals, we will all have our favourites and those we avoid. In 1984 he had two adaptations released (hot on the heels of three from '83: The Dead Zone, Cujo and Christine), one of which I love and one of which I am FINALLY growing to love.
One of my first tastes of Stephen King was when I picked up his novel Firestarter as an early teen. Picked it up and didn't put it down until it was complete. On repeat. (I have an addictive personality, is that obvious to anyone else?) It's a simple tale of government drug testing experiments, two of the trial's participants developing telekinesis, falling in love, creating a beautiful little girl who has her own special ability, pyrokinesis, the government officials deciding they want that ability for themselves, a nation-wide manhunt ensues and it all culminates in fiery hell. BAM. Can you not see why I was hooked? And as a huge HUGE fan of the book, the film adaptation is right up my alley.
The movie stars Drew Barrymore (who read the book as a child and declared to her mom that she was indeed Charlie McGee!), David Keith as her father Andy, Heather Locklear in brief flashbacks as her mom (side note: I LOVE that they didn't dwell on the backstory of how they fell in love; it was obviously implied, they created a child and we are back in the here and now), and a fantastic George C. Scott as the dick pedophile that befriends Charlie.
The film was directed by Mark L. Lester (Commando and Showdown in Little Tokyo), and in a recent-ish interview with Dread Central, he confirmed that the film was originally set to be directed by John Carpenter, but after the script had been written, did not stay true to the book, and the budget for that version of the film did not excite the studio. (According to Carpenter, he was removed in the wake of the critical reviews of The Thing). So it was brought to Lester instead, who along with Stanley Mann, rewrote the script directly in keeping with the book and BAM, Firestarter as we know it. He also spoke of this film being the most challenging that he had ever worked on. Practical effects will do that, and this film is incredibly full of them, right down to the actual fireballs and on-fire people. THAT's why I love love love this movie. EVERYTHING was made and that adds so much.
Now I struggled with and almost scrapped this whole piece due to my non-love of the film. I have watched it a solid dozen times, three to four times over the past few years, and have never really come around on it. How it spawned EIGHT fucking sequels and has such a huge cult following was beyond me. However, on this last viewing a couple days ago, I FINALLY found some love for it. One thing you have to give me is determination. PIECE BACK ON!
The film was released on March 9th, 1984, was filmed on an estimated $800,000 budget and brought in a whopping $14,600,000. Directed by Fritz Kiersch and written for the screen by George Goldsmith, the film strays from the draft screenplay that Stephen King had originally written for the film (focusing on character and backstory) and Goldsmith's action and violence was favoured instead. It stars Peter Horton (my recognition of him was from Amazon Women on the Moon) and Linda Hamilton (do I even need to type the words: Sarah Connor?) and we should all know the story: a childless couple end up in a small town, the town has been taken over by a cult of asshole children that answer to an evil entity “He Who Walks Between The Rows” and bloody murder ensues.
And that was Stephen King in good ol' 1984!
Our once a year mass gathering is just about upon us, where we collectively come together to explode the twitter in our celebration of just a few of the best of the best from 1984.