Non-Union Films: Firestarter


Episode 022 | Non-Union Films: Firestarter

This month we watch and talk about the film that built the movie industry in Wilmington, North Carolina. Firestarter starred a young Drew Barrymore, and was based on a novel by Stephen King. It was produced by Dino De Laurentiis who went on to found DEG, which present day is now EUE/Screen Gems.

We also talk about the complex relationship between Stephen King and the film and TV adaptations of his works.


Explosion of the Orton Plantation model

A model of the Orton Plantation estate being Firestarted

Show Summary


  • Firestarter and Sean’s outdoor theater
  • Stephen King and filmmaking

The Movie

  • “The Shop” is a reference to MKUltra
  • Secret government organization gives people powers with a syrum
  • Two subjects fall in love, gain mind powers, and give birth to a daughter with pyrokinesis
  • The Shop hunts them down, killing the mother, played by Heather Locklear
  • Andy and Charlie, father and daughter, elude them with the aid of their powers
  • George C. Scott hunts them and shoots them with tranquilizer darts
  • The are taken to the “off-brand Whitehouse,” headquarters for The Shop
  • John Rainbird (George C. Scott’s character) befriends Charlie
  • In a showdown at the very flammable barn around a lot of flammable hay, Andy is killed
  • Charlie rampages and kills everyone
  • Spoiler warning: everything above is a spoiler


  • Martin Sheen returns from The Dead Zone, another Stephen King adaptation
  • George C. Scott just wanted to hang out with Martin Sheen, didn’t like the film
  • A young Drew Barrymore, fresh off of the successful E.T. film, plays Charlie
  • David Keith of An Officer and a Gentleman plays Andy
  • Heather Locklear plays Vicky, the mother
  • Freddie Jones, of Dune “fame,” makes an appearance


  • Shot in and around Wilmington, North Carolina
  • Orton Plantation was The Shop headquarters
  • Front Street of downtown Wilmington is supposed to be New York City
  • Chimney Rock and Lake Lure, North Carolina are featured
  • Oakland Plantation in Bladen County, North Carolina was probably the farmhouse

Stephen King in Film and Television

  • Bad movies, why do they happen?
  • Tommy Wiseau and The Room
  • Budget problems with Dino De Laurentiis productions
  • The 2017 release of IT became most successful box office horror release
  • The Dark Tower, not so much
  • Stephen King has beef with Stanley Kubrick over his iconic The Shining adaptation
  • Stephen King decides to “fix” the adaptation with a crappy three part miniseries in 1997
  • “The burger and fries of literature” versus artsy-fartsy
  • Maximum Overdrive was Stephen King’s directoral debut

Wrapping Up

  • Martin Sheen filled in for Burt Lancaster
  • Drew Barrymore was eight years old in the film
  • A TV series is planned based on Firestarter
  • How did the farmer clean up the burned corpses?
  • Firestarter kicks off the film industry in Wilmngton
  • Share the show on social media


Toronto Film Review picks apart an interview with Stephen King on the subject of filmmaking.

The trailer for Firestarter is online here.

Here is the trailer for Maximum Overdrive on Youtube.

io9 ranks 58 Stephen King movie and TV series adaptations. Firestarter makes it to number 12.

The Dissolve digs deep into the perplexing decision to make The Shining into a crappy miniseries.

“‘Firestarter’ changed the fate of Wilmington,” says the Starnews in this retrospective. does a similar writeup on the seminal film.

Stephen King still keeps talking about Stanley Kubrick.

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