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The new adaptation of “Flames of Vengeance”, the book by Stephen King, distances itself from the 1984 film

The new adaptation of "Flames of Vengeance", the book by Stephen King, distances itself from the 1984 film

the fury of Stephen King in the cinema it had its splendor in the eighties and nineties of the last century. Now that new adaptations have seen the light, it was the turn of flames of revenge (also known as Fire Eyesin the original Firestarter) to be updated and become a new feature film. Among the many decisions that could be made, this new version chooses to distance itself from the previous one as well as from the novel. The changes, which may or may not be liked, serve at least to take away the feeling of seeing the same thing again.

The protagonist of both films is a girl named Charlie McGee, who has powers inherited from her parents, who in turn were part of a failed experiment from which they managed to survive and finally escape.

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"Flames of Vengeance" ("Firestarter", also known as "Eyes of Fire") is updated by becoming a new feature film.  (Blumhouse Productions/Universal Pictures)
“Flames of Vengeance” (“Firestarter”, also known as “Eyes of Fire”) is updated by becoming a new feature film. (Blumhouse Productions/Universal Pictures)

Charlie’s father, played in this new version by Zack Efron, has the ability to control people’s minds, but this costs him more and more, causing bleeding in his eyes that is increasing. Charlie, on the other hand, has an uncontrolled power to create and manipulate fire, something that is more of a curse than a blessing. Both, along with Charlie’s mother, have been on the run for years from an agency that wants to use the little girl as a weapon.

Zac Efron plays the father of Charlie, the protagonist, in this new version.  (Blumhouse Productions/Universal Pictures)
Zac Efron plays the father of Charlie, the protagonist, in this new version. (Blumhouse Productions/Universal Pictures)

The 1984 version was much simpler and its aesthetics responded to the style of those years. It had a cast of stars of the moment, led by drew Barrymorewho came to perform in ET the alien. His parents played them David Keith Y Heather Lockear, two well-known actors then. He had worked in challenge to fate and she made her film debut here but was already famous for the series Dynasty. They were joined by three Oscar winners: George C. Scott, Art Carney Y Louise Fletch. They completed the cast Martin SheenFreddie Francis Y Moses Gunn.

  Drew Barrymore, who came to act in "ET: the extraterrestrial", led the cast of stars of the original film.  (Universal Pictures)
Drew Barrymore, who came to act in “ET: the extraterrestrial”, led the cast of stars of the original film. (Universal Pictures)

In 1984 that combination of names was quite a luxury, but the director, Mark L Lesterhad been chosen instead of John Carpenter, and the result was less ambitious than the casting. Still, the special effects, before the digital age, were memorable. Stephen King never liked the result, even though he was present during the making process. As a color fact, the music of the 2022 version is by Carpenter, the one who could not direct the first film.

David Keith, famous in the eighties for "Challenge to destiny", was the father of the girl.  (Universal Pictures)
David Keith, famous in the eighties for “Challenge to destiny”, was the father of the girl. (Universal Pictures)

In this new premiere the bet is more sinister: there is no room for the innocence of the protagonist and the speech against the government is completely diluted in an ambiguity that takes away political weight. Some progressive culture seems to creep in, but nothing solid either. Basically, the search is for the genre in its purest form, something typical of the studio behind the film, Blumhouse Productions. This prolific company is devoting itself to revising horror and fantastic cinema, creating new proposals at the same time.

John Carpenter, who was unable to direct the first film, is scoring the new one.  (Blumhouse Productions/Universal Pictures)
John Carpenter, who was unable to direct the first film, is scoring the new one. (Blumhouse Productions/Universal Pictures)

For those nostalgic for the eighties, the new version will feel alien and different. Ironically, the most classic thing about it is Carpenter’s music. There are moments more successful than others and gains something in truculence and violence, something that appeared in the original film but with certain limits, particularly with regard to the consequences of Charlie’s attacks.

Following each adaptation of Stephen King is already an obligation for fans of the writer, so while we wait for the next one we can sit down and discuss which of the two versions of flames of revenge we think it’s the best.

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