Firestarter, Maximum Overdrive in remake mode
While the news is rampant that Firestarter is hitting a remake it's not the only Stephen King property around, and perhaps with no surprise either. While The Dark Tower looks set to loom high over Hollywood and whatever equivalent name you can think of for the television studios in America, perhaps Tellywood, other studios are thinking bandwagon and cash in time, and are leaping to King's previous works.
However this is where I'm going to turn against type and say that this looks like it could be a good idea. The Stephen King film era is dated and there were a slew that ranged from okay to downright bad. I'm not denying there were classics made, but these weren't Firestarter or Maximum Overdrive.
Don't get me wrong. Firestarter was good and I enjoyed it, I can still remember key scenes and the two leads were great - David Keith and Drew Barrymore – and were backed by some surprising names – the great George C. Scott, Martin Sheen, Art Carney, Antonio Fargas, Moses Gunn, Louise Fletcher, Heather Locklear...okay maybe not Locklear, but the cast was strong for the film and it didn't turn out too badly.
I mean look at Maximum Overdrive, or perhaps don't, that was a terrible film, one which I remember actually turning off at one point because it was so terrible, and I'm not saying it's because Stephen King adapted and directed it, but because the whole premise is one of his more silly horror ideas. It just didn't work.
However in this robots on film age, I wonder if there's a way that this concept could work, and rather than the film bringing life to the inanimate truck, perhaps it could bring artificial intelligence to computer circuitry? Imagine everything with a computer chip inside it suddenly gaining AI, what would that mean for the world? What would the systems do?
A period of self-awareness where they refuse to do what they were intended to do, behave like a little child while they explore their feelings and the world around them, and then begin to join up and create some form of sentient group as they realise and understand their creation and the world around them?
Does that sound as corny as the truck coming to life? Well perhaps, but there are ways that Maximum Overdrive could be made into a better film.
Firestarter has much potential too, and the potential for a franchise, there's no doubt about that. The first attempt at it didn't work as the television film Firestarter 2: Rekindled was, well, poor. Even Dennis Hopper and Malcolm McDowell couldn't save it. However the idea of following a girl as she develops powers before she hits her teens when they will become their strongest, and before she masters them, does set a series of films up rather well don't you think?
The original film told the story of a couple who met while earning money as test subjects for an experiment at college. The experiment resulted in them both gaining psychic abilities, and when they marry and have a child she gains the power to create and control fire with her mind. However as she grows older the power grows out of control and with her beginning her teenage years her emotional state changes and she struggles to control the fire.
A government organisation called the Shop are after them, and when the mother is killed the father and daughter go on the run, the father using his mind to control others to hide their tracks and provide assistance, while trying to protect his daughter from her own abilities and those trying to track them. For when they get them they want to keep them and examine them.
Variety tells us that Universal and the Dino De Laurentiis Company have teamed up to reboot Firestarter with Mark L. Smith, the writer for Vacancy (Filmstalker review), and The Hole, working on the script.
Martha De Laurentiis said of the idea that:
”We see this as a unique, character-driven thriller with a supernatural edge, based on a timeless concept and enhanced by recent visual effects advances”
It was good that she mentioned character-driven and thriller first, before anything, because it is. It's about her relationship with her father and them constantly on the run from the government and the last fire.
Debbie Liebling from Universal reveals the studio's intentions:
”Firestarter has a great mythology and with Martha and Lorenzo's vision we believe the franchise can be extended in a new and exciting direction”
Yes, they are already thinking franchise, because the two existing films could hardly be called a franchise, and when you reboot a potential franchise and remake the first film, you're starting afresh.
The article also then mentions the fact that the Dino De Laurentiis Company are working on more remakes and bring out Maximum Overdrive. There's nothing else mentioned about it, but the intention is there.
Stephen King is seeing a resurgence in film, and if The Dark Tower works out we'll see even more remade. The problem will really be if they start touching films like Carrie, The Shining or Salem's Lot. They wouldn't dare, would they?