Throwback Thursday: 1997 Toy Biz Spiderman Web Force Tank Attack Daredevil

The Man Without Fear!

During the 1990’s I spent most of my time in college classes, at the movies, or hanging out with friends. While I did rediscover comic books, I pretty much stopped buying and collecting toys save for the random action figure, die cast car, or sports cards. Toy Biz was one of the few companies that managed to catch my eye during this time. One of the figures that I purchased and still have to this day is Toy Biz’ Spiderman Web Force Tank Attack Daredevil.

I don’t know what happened to the tank accessory over the years. I’m assuming that it was left behind in a dorm room, one of the many apartments that I lived in, or possibly in an old trailer that I lived in until I could afford a home of my own. In any case it is long gone. Apparently it could be broken up into multiple pieces that snapped onto the body of Daredevil. It also had a firing missile

The figure itself was and still is amazing. Daredevil is super articulated (especially for the 1990’s) and can be posed in all sorts of positions. He has no trouble doing the splits or hanging from a cabinet door (like he did in one of my apartments). The only thing that Daredevil can’t do (apart from using his eyes), is hold anything. His hands are molded in to perpetual fists, so he can only shake them in anger at a car that blows its horn at him.

My 1997 Daredevil action figure posing with my 2003 Opening Weekend ticket for the Ben Affleck Daredevil film.

I love this figure. He’s been with me through thick and thin and spent the last two years in storage thanks to Hurricane Laura. I now prominently display him in my office at work. Despite edging close to thirty years of age this figure’s joints are still great. Boy, Toy Biz knew how to build’em.

Do you have this figure or any other figures from this line? Let me know in the comments.

As always, thanks for reading my post. I’ll see you again real soon!

Throwback Thursday: Fire In The Sky (1993)

“I have a collect call from Travis Walton. Will you accept the charges?”

Some of the most popular films ever made were released in 1993. It was an amazing year for film and yours truly was around to witness a ton of these films on the big screen. Hit films like Jurassic Park, Mrs. Doubtfire, Sleepless In Seattle, Carlito’s Way, Schindler’s List, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and Indecent Proposal were released that year as were cult classics like Army Of Darkness and Falling Down. Another film released in 1993 that was successful but not necessarily a massive hit was the allegedly true story of the alien abduction of Travis Walton, Fire In The Sky. It was based upon the 1978 book The Walton Experience written by Travis Walton about his supposed 1975 abduction. The film has gone on to become a cult hit in its own right and holds up extremely well as both a science fiction/fact thriller and a biopic.

I say that the film is based upon an allegedly true story as the only evidence that the event occurred comes in the form of a number of polygraph tests taken by Walton and other members of the logging crew that witnessed the event and the fact that Walton was missing for five days and six hours and then miraculously reappeared along a highway in Arizona. I’m not here to question whether or not the event actually occurred. Personally, I do believe that extra-terrestrials probably exist but I do not have any hard evidence to support my belief nor do I have any proof that if they do exist that they are necessarily more advanced than humans. In any case, Walton’s story makes for a genuinely creepy tale and, with a little bit of Hollywood magic, Fire In The Sky makes for a very creepy movie.

The film is basically divided into two parts. The first part, the bulk of the film, shows us how the logging crew deals with the abduction of their friend and the fallout from him going missing. All of the men are accused of murdering Walton and are grilled by Lt. Frank Watters, who has never failed at solving a case according to the film. The leader of the group, Mike Rogers, is not only struggling with the loss of Walton but is also trying to deal with family and financial matters as well. A drifter who finds work with the group, Allan Dallis, becomes the primary suspect in the case, as he and Walton had an altercation prior to Walton’s abduction. The rest of the group, young Greg Hayes, spiritual David Whitlock, and hardworking Bobby Cogdill, are well known in the community like Mike Rogers, and have trouble dealing with their newfound infamy. The film does an amazing job showing how these men deal with their problems.

The second part of the film deals with Walton’s unexpected return, the terrifying events that took place during his abduction, and the fallout that occurs when he learns that his friends abandoned him when he was knocked down by a light emitted by the UFO that they all witnessed. The abduction sequence is particularly unsettling. The film’s screenwriter, Tracy Torme, was told to enhance that specific part of the film to make it more interesting because Paramount Pictures found the actual abduction story to be too boring. Torme outdid himself in my opinion. The abduction sequence is right up there with the extremely claustrophobic escape sequence from The Descent (2005) in my opinion. Watching Walton helplessly struggle against forces he cannot stop is uneasy to witness, and it’s one of the best parts of this film.

Robert Patrick heads up a loaded cast of amazing actors. Patrick stars as Mike Rogers. We get to see more of his story and how he interacts with the others more than any other character in the film. D.B. Sweeney stars as Travis Walton, the man who is abducted and tortured by the aliens in the film. The rest of the cast is a litany of character actors and leading men like James Garner (Lt. Watters), Henry Thomas (Greg Hayes), Craig Sheffer (Dallis), Bradley Gregg (Cogdill), Peter Berg (Whitlock), Noble Willingham (Sheriff Davis), and Kathleen Wilhoite (Katie Rogers, Mike’s wife).

The special effects for the film were handled by Industrial Light & Magic and they were brilliant. They hold up extremely well today and featured puppets and a ton of practical effects. During the sequences on the alien ship, Walton is shown in a bio-cocoon full of some type of goop. When he breaks out of the cocoon he finds himself in a zero gravity chamber. He accidentally falls into another cocoon where he finds another human being that is biodegrading into the goop. From there he stumbles upon alien suits, is captured by the aliens, and is dragged to an examination table where the aliens begin torturing him. The entire sequence is amazingly executed.

This film is a real treat. It does take quite a few liberties with Walton’s account of the events that occurred so if you are interested in Walton’s real story, look up his book The Walton Experience or Fire In The Sky: The Walton Experience. They are both the same book, just a different title. Walton apparently wasn’t happy with the way that his story was told and has been looking for a new film to be made that tells his true story. In any case, Fire In The Sky is definitely worth a look and if you’ve never watched it before, take my advice and check out this movie!

Thanks for checking out my post. I haven’t done a Throwback Thursday post in awhile now so it’s nice to get one more in the books before the end of the year. Tomorrow I’ll be posting my final The Year Of KISS post and on Saturday I’ll finish off 2022 with an end of the year summary!

Throwback Thursday: The Batwoman (1968)

With the campy Batman television series ending fourteen days before its March 28, 1968 release, The Batwoman (La Mujer Murcielago) hit the silver screen in Mexico. The film blended action, camp, and lucha libre into a science fiction/superhero film featuring the Batwoman, a crime fighter who is inspired by but not an official adaptation of the DC Comics title of the same name.

In the film, a string of murders occur in Acapulco. The local authorities can’t figure out who or what is killing a number of luchadores in the area. Desperate for help, the police call on the assistance of Mario Robles and his brilliant ally, the Batwoman. Together they attempt to thwart the plans of the evil Dr. Eric Williams. The doctor is tapping brains for pineal fluid that he combines with fish in order to create a Fish Man. Sound crazy, right? Well, it’s absolutely insane….and fun to watch.

The film starred the beautiful Maura Monti as Gloria/Batwoman, Roberto Canedo as the sinister Dr. Eric Williams, and Hector Godoy as Mario Robles, Gloria’s friend and fellow investigator. It also featured a number of professional luchadores and luchadoras who showed off their skills in the ring and in a number of training sessions. Surprisingly, the acting isn’t that bad. Canedo went over the top to glorious perfection and Monti and Godoy turned in solid performances as well.

The Fish Man creature looks as good as any other 1950’s or 1960’s monster from the seemingly endless string of creature features released during those two decades. The creature was designed and created by Alfonso Barcenas. Rene Cardona, who has 147 directing credits to his name, does a great job of keeping the story interesting despite its crazy plot. The action is fairly well done, too. Monti did her own stunts in the film and there is an extended underwater sequence in which she had a number of issues but managed to pull it off very well.

The film is bonkers…..but somehow works. Perhaps it’s Monti’s stunning beauty? Maybe it’s the action? Heck, it could be the whackadoo aquarium that Dr. Williams keeps his fish in with its boiling water? I don’t know, but it just clicks with wonderful campy perfection. It’s definitely not for everyone, but I believe that viewers should at least give it a chance. It’s currently available to stream for free on Tubi and is also available for purchase on DVD and Blu-ray. On DVD and Blu-ray, it’s coupled up with The Panther Women, another film directed by Cardona.

I enjoyed this film. There’s just something extremely appealing about it. I plan on looking for more films by Cardona and also hope to see a few more films starring Monti. Sadly, her career on the big screen only lasted about six years. I found in an article that she decided to step away from film because more and more Mexican production companies demanded that female stars do nude scenes, which is something that Monti wasn’t willing to do no matter how much they paid her. Monti didn’t mind wearing skimpy outfits, but she drew the line at full frontal nudity.

Check out The Batwoman. It’s not a great movie but it is fun to watch. Monti is breathtaking and the scenery around Acapulco is beautiful.

Thanks for checking out my post. See you again real soon!

Throwback Thursday: Riding The Bullet (2004)

“The Bullet is constant.”

Released in 2004, Stephen King’s Riding The Bullet is a generic thriller that tries desperately to be more than it is. The film has flashes of brilliance that are spread too far apart by long sequences of awkward interactions, failed attempts at art house-styled scenes, and mundane moments. It was directed and adapted by Mick Garris and starred Jonathan Jackson, David Arquette, Barbara Hershey, Matt Frewer, Erika Christensen, and Nicky Katt.

In the film, Jackson portays Alan Parker, an art student who gets into an argument with his girlfriend, tries to commit suicide, and then ends up hitchhiking home to see his dying mother. While hitchhiking, Alan meets a number of unique characters, may or may not have a few hallucinations, gets chased by murderous rednecks, and eventually rides shotgun with a phantom who gives him a choice: your life or your mother’s life.

Garris was already familiar with adapting and directing King’s work for both the big and small screen. He directed the 1992 film adaptation of King’s Sleepwalkers and also directed and/or wrote/produced a number of television shows and mini-series based on King’s work including The Stand (1994), Quicksilver Highway (1997) and The Shining (1997). He also worked on shows like Amazing Stories (1985) and She-Wolf Of London (1990), so his bizarre direction of Bullet has me a bit perplexed.

The film just can’t seem to find its rhythm. It throws in bizarre sequences where Alan has a conversation with his conscious, a literal second Alan that pops up throughout the film, that become increasingly more annoying with each interaction. It has a lot of misplaced or just plain dumb jump scares as well.

The film’s acting is pretty bad as well. Jackson isn’t a bad actor. He just cannot carry this film for some reason. Matt Frewer’s brief appearance feels forced and is poorly executed. Erika Christensen never really gets to show off her acting chops. Cliff Robertson’s role as an extremely creepy, elderly fellow that picks up Alan is awkward. Perhaps confusing everyone with bizarre characters was Garris’ intention. If so, he nailed it. If he was doing anything else, he failed miserably.

Not all of the performances were bad. Nicky Katt shines as a draft dodger who picks up Alan on his way to see his mother. Barbara Hershey is also quite excellent as Alan’s mother. The real star here is David Arquette, who plays against type as George Staub, a fifties-styled greaser who gives Alan the last ride to the hospital. The kicker? Staub is dead and is in town to take a soul with him to the afterlife. He uses fear, humor, and rage to manipulate Alan and he does a fine job of it in this film.

It’s a shame that this film is such a dud. It has a solid cast, an experienced director, and source material from one of horror’s living legends. It ultimately doesn’t translate well to the screen, however, and makes this one of my least favorite Stephen King adaptations.

Did you enjoy Riding The Bullet? let me know in the comments section. As always, thanks for reading.

Throwback Thursday: The Mist (2007)

“There’s something in the mist….”

Frank Darabont adapts a Stephen King story for the fourth time with 2007’s The Mist. Darabont already did The Woman In The Room, The Shawshank Redemption, and The Green Mile, but this was the first time that Darabont tackled a full blown tale of terror from King. With amazing performances from the likes of Thomas Jane, Andre Braugher, Marcia Gay Harden, and Toby Jones, it’s no wonder that this film is so amazing. Top it all off with four future members of the cast of The Walking Dead and that show’s make-up supervisor, and you’ve got the perfect storm for a great film.

In the film, a powerful storm blows through a small town in Maine. David and Stephanie Drayton and their son, Billy, assess the damage to their home and David and Billy head into town for supplies. Along for the ride is their occasional neighbor, Brent, an attorney who has had a number of run-ins with David in the past. While all of this is happening, a mysterious and thick mist rolls across the small town and the surrounding areas. While in the grocery store, David, Billy, and Brent become trapped inside the building after the mist covers everything and everyone. Alarms sound, screams and roars are heard, and a small group of store employees and patrons hunker down to battle an unseen enemy. As the day grows long, factions begin to form throughout the group. Brent heads up one of these factions, the “Outsiders,” made up of vacationers and visitors from out of town. Mrs. Carmody, a local religious fanatic, begins to make proclamations and prophecies about what is happening and quickly forms another, more bloodthirsty group. A third group headed up by David also forms. It features level-headed members of the local community and a few of the store employees. Brent’s group heads out into the fog, hoping to find help. Carmody’s group seeks out sacrifices to the beasts and turns on David’s group. David and his faction make a desperate attempt at escape. Who lives? Who dies? Who are what are the real monsters in The Mist? Watch it to find out what happens!

Darabont does an amazing job of showing us just how quickly humanity can spiral out of control. The people in the store initially help one another fight off the beasts that attempt to kill them but quickly turn on one another. All of this is delivered in a chaotic fashion that only adds to the suspense and terror of the film. The CGI creatures look pretty good, but Nicotero’s practical effects really shine in this film. Thankfully the mist manages to hide many of the shortcomings of the CGI.

The cast is amazing. Everyone delivers an amazing performance. Thomas Jane carries the film as David, but he gets a ton of support from Andre Braugher, Sam Witwer, Alexa Davalos, Toby Jones, Frances Sternhagen, and many others. Marcia Gay Harden steals every scene that she appears in as her character, Mrs. Carmody, embraces her divine destiny as the leader of religious zealots. Rounding out the brilliant cast are four future castmates from The Walking Dead. Laurie Holden and Jeffrey DeMunn have prominent roles in the film and it also features Juan Gabriel Pareja and Melissa McBride in small roles. McBride is of special note, as her character is only on the screen for a few minutes but they are very powerful minutes.

This film’s ending is brutal. I won’t spoil it here, but do know that if you’ve read Stephen King’s novella, Darabont took some major liberties with the film adaptation. In fact, King loves the ending that Darabont used in the film. The first time I saw it, it hit me like a ton of bricks. It’s simply wonderful.

The Mist (2007) Directed by Frank Darabont Shown from left: Laurie Holden, Thomas Jane and Nathan Gamble

This is definitely one of my favorite Stephen King adaptations. The story is interesting, paced extremely well, and shows us all that the worst monsters in the world are actually folks that look just like you and me. Be sure to check out the madness that is The Mist.

Thanks for checking out my review! See you again soon!

Throwback Thursday: The Blood Suckers (1967)

“In spite of this dreadful accident, I welcome you to my villa.”

Whether you call it La Isla De La Muerte, Maneater Of Hydra, Le Baron Vampire, or Island Of The Doomed, 1967’s The Blood Suckers is quite the messy flick. It’s plot centers around a mad scientist, Baron von Weser (Cameron Mitchell), and his passion for plant life…..and not humanity. In the film, the baron welcomes a small group of tourists to his secluded island villa where he shows them various types of plants that he either transplanted to the island or concocted in his own laboratory. The tourists begin to die off one by one due to an apparent “blood disease” that seems to be running rampant on the small island. Soon enough, survivors start to wonder if one of them is a murderer or even a vampire. Who lives? Who dies? Whodunnit? Sit through The Blood Suckers to find out!

The film was directed by Mel Welles who, ironically, portrayed Gravis Mushnick in 1960’s The Little Shop Of Horrors, another film about a carnivorous plant. To be completely honest, that film is exactly what came to mind when I started watching The Blood Suckers. Also credited as directing the film (at least on IMDb.com) was Ernst Ritter von Theumer who, along with Welles and Stephen Schmidt, is credited as writing the film. Welles’ direction was okay, but the editing was atrocious. Many scenes abruptly ended and went right into another scene set somewhere else on the island.

The acting was also off kilter. Star Cameron Mitchell did a decent job as the wicked baron and I really liked the performances of George Martin as David, Elisa Montes as Beth, and Hermann Nehlsen as Professor Demerist, but the other players in the film seemed to be either poorly directed, poorly written, or just underwhelming. Matilde Munoz Sampedro was annoying as Myrtle, a lady hellbent on taking photographs of everything. Rolf von Nauckhoff and Kai Fischer were totally bipolar as the married Robinson couple who would fight with one another and then speak sweet nothings to each other with the flip of a switch.

The film did manage to find itself on Elvira’s Movie Macabre, so that should tell you how excellent this film is, but I must say that the special effects and gore were top notch for such a low budget production. It ultimately falls flat, though, and while I won’t tell you to watch this film, I won’t stop you from viewing it. There is something oddly appealing about it that I just can’t put a finger upon, but it’s definitely not a must-see film.

Thanks for taking a look back at The Blood Suckers with me. It is available on a number of free streaming services and has been released on numerous home video platforms over the years. My suggestion to you is that if you’re going to watch it, check it out on a free streamer first.

Throwback Thursday: Halloween III: Season Of The Witch (1982)

“Eight More Days ‘Til Halloween, Halloween, Halloween….”

Still not interested in writing or directing a Halloween (1978) sequel and hoping to spinoff an anthology series of Halloween themed films, John Carpenter and Debra Hill decided to throw out Michael Myers and Laurie Strode and take their film series in a totally different direction. The result was 1982’s Halloween III: Season Of The Witch starring Tom Atkins, Stacey Nelkin, and Dan O’Herlihy. The film was directed by Tommy Lee Wallace, Carpenter’s first choice to direct Halloween II (eventually directed by Rick Rosenthal) and his editor and production designer on the first Halloween film. It was the first and only film in the series that did not feature Myers as the focal point of the story.

In the film, an exceptionally annoying commercial featuring Halloween masks produced by the Silver Shamrock Novelty Company is played over and over promoting the masks and a special surprise on Halloween night. A delirious shopkeeper, clutching one of the masks and screaming about how “They will kill us all,” ends up in the hospital where Dr. Daniel Challis works. He is then murdered by a mysterious man who sets himself on fire in a car outside of the hospital after committing the crime. Dr. Challis and the shopkeeper’s daughter, Ellie, head out to Santa Mira, CA, home of Silver Shamrock Novelty, to find out what’s really going on with the masks.

After arriving in the small town, Ellie and Dr. Challis discover a number of odd things about the Silver Shamrock Company, it’s owner, Conal Cochran, and his employees. They also develop a May/December relationship with one another. As they dig deeper into the mysterious company, they uncover a devious plot by Cochran to kill anyone wearing one of the masks on Halloween night. The deaths trigger snakes, spiders, and other creepy crawlies to come out of the destroyed heads of the victims wearing a mask. Dr. Challis and Ellie decide that they are the only ones who can stop Cochran. Are they successful? You’ll have to watch Halloween III: Season of the Witch to find out!

This film was considered a failure upon its initial release and I can absolutely understand why it was seen that way. The film has zero connections with the stories of the other films in the franchise except for the fact that we see a commercial for the original Halloween film on televisions in the background. I’m positive that audiences went into the theater hoping for Michael Myers to pop up at some point in the film and stab someone but that never happens. There are two connections to previous films, however, with Jamie Lee Curtis providing an uncredited performance as the voice on the town curfew system and as the voice on a phone recording and Dick Warlock portraying one of the android killers in the film. He portrayed Michael Myers in the second Halloween film.

The story is a mishmash of science fiction and horror and simply feels out of place. Had it been released under a different title it might have fared better because it isn’t a terrible film. It’s just nothing special. The cast is pretty solid, especially O’Herlihy as Cochran and Nelkin as Ellie. I have to admit that the romantic moment shared by her and and Tom Atkins (who is twenty-four years older than her) was a bit creepy, unbelievable, and probably tossed in only for some brief nudity but, hey, I guess that it could happen. The special effects are dumb, even for a film made in 1982. The music was okay but nothing compared to the iconic music from the original Halloween film. I will admit that the film’s poster is one of the coolest ones that I’ve ever seen. It’s so much better than the film itself. I also enjoyed the way that the film ended. I won’t give that away here, but it’s an excellent way to finish the flick.

Ultimately this film feels like a Made-For-TV movie that was tagged with the recognizable Halloween franchise in order to trick a few folks into buying tickets. It didn’t work. The plan to continue the series with Halloween themed tales died when Halloween IV: The Return Of Michael Myers brought back everyone’s favorite slasher and righted the ship.

Season Of The Witch is my least favorite Halloween film and I say that knowing full well that there is a Halloween film out there that stars Busta Rhymes as a kung-fu fighting web series guy (Halloween: Resurrection). While many of the other sequels in the franchise were subpar, Witch went completely off the rails in my opinion.

Do I recommend it? No, I don’t. If you’re intent on seeing every film in the franchise then, yeah, check it out. But don’t come crying to me when you realize that this film is a dud. You’ve been warned!

All joking aside, I appreciate you reading my post. I’ll have more horror film reviews coming up in the near future. See you again real soon!

Throwback Thursday: Halloween II (1981)

“There’s a file on Michael Myers that nobody knew about…”

Hated by many, loved by few, 1981’s Halloween II picks up where 1978’s Halloween ended. The film is a direct sequel to its predecessor and opens with a flashback sequence that catches viewers up to the events of the previous film. After Dr. Loomis puts six bullets in him, Michael Myers falls off of the second floor balcony. Dr. Loomis runs out to see the body and it is gone. He checks on Laurie and then quickly heads out to find Michael Myers. From there, ol’ Mikey swipes a knife from an elderly woman, kills a young woman named Alice, and then sets out to track down Laurie at the local hospital in order to finish the job he started in the first film.

John Carpenter refused to direct the film because he simply didn’t want to rehash the original story. He suggested Tommy Lee Wallace, the original film’s art director, but Wallace also refused to direct the film. Carpenter’s second choice was Rick Rosenthal who, at least in my opinion, did a fine job of mimicking Carpenter’s vibe and direction of the original movie. Carpenter teamed up with Debra Hill, who also wrote the original film and many others with Carpenter, to write the sequel. Apparently he wasn’t that into writing the film, either, because his and Hill’s initial screenplay was shot down by the producers. In order to spice the story up a bit, Carpenter injected perhaps the most argued over bit of Halloween mythos: Laurie Strode is Michael Myers’ sister. It also makes Michael Myers a seemingly supernatural being.

Almost all of the core cast from the original film (including one of Mikey’s victims) returned to reprise their roles. Jamie Lee Curtis returned as Laurie Strode. Donald Pleasence starred once again as Dr. Loomis. Charles Cyphers and Nancy Loomis returned as the Sheriff Brackett and his dead daughter, Annie. Nancy Stephens also came back as Marion Chambers. Dick Warlock took on the role of Michael Myers in the film. Lance Guest, best known for portraying Alex and Beta in The Last Starfighter, portrays Jimmy, an ambulance driver who becomes smitten with Laurie while she is in the hospital. Other cast members included Leo Rossi, Pamela Susan Shoop, Ana Alicia, Ford Rainey, Tawny Moyer, Gloria Gifford, and Lucille Benson. Anne Bruner portrayed ill-fated Alice. Dana Carvey, who would go on to become a star on Saturday Night Live, also has a bit part in the film.

L to R: Dick Warlock, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Donald Pleasence.

The film perhaps best remembered for its amped up violence and gore. Michael Myers has free reign over a hospital with a skeleton crew and he uses everything at his disposal to kill them. From draining people of blood to slashing throats with a scalpel, Mike does it all. I actually liked seeing the various ways that Michael Myers dispatched his victims.

The film is far from perfect but I really enjoyed it. It was especially cool seeing Lance Guest in an early role. The pacing was a tad slow but the music, kills, and acting were all very well done. Let’s be honest, there are much worse Halloween sequels out there, and while this one isn’t five stars, it’s definitely better than most of them.

Thanks for revisiting Halloween II with me. I am absolutely positive that its star, Jamie Lee Curtis, will return for Thirty-One Days O’Horror in October of this year. See you again soon!

Throwback Thursday: Firestarter (1984)

“I’ll burn you up! I’ll fry you!”

I was a child way back in May of 1984 and the PG-13 rating was was just a few months away from making its debut with the film Red Dawn. Had Firestarter been released in August instead of May of that year, it quite possibly could have received the first PG-13 rating. Instead, it was given an R rating and somehow my parents still allowed me to watch it. I remember enjoying it. I remember feeling sad for Drew Barrymore’s character. I also have very vivid memories of the standoff scene at a friendly farmer’s home where Drew lights up a bunch of nasty government agents. This film stuck with me over the years, and with Blumhouse releasing a new adaptation of Stephen King’s 1980 novel on May 13, I decided to revisit the original film adaptation before diving into the new one.

I found out that I had forgotten more about the film than I remembered. I forgot how the cast was loaded from the top to the bottom with great actors including George C. Scott, Martin Sheen, Heather Locklear, and Art Carney. I also forgot that despite the cast, some of the performances were subpar. I also forgot how cheesy the fireballs looked in the film’s climax. I also didn’t have the same feelings about the relationship between Drew Barrymore’s Charlie McGee and David Keith’s Andy McGee. I definitely forgot the very pedophilia-like vibe that George C. Scott’s Rainbird gave off when he first described how “attractive and young” Charlie was in his eyes.

Despite these facts, I still really enjoyed this film. If you aren’t familiar with the story, here’s a brief rundown: Andy McGee and his daughter, Charlie, are on the run from “The Shop,” a government program that’s in the business of underhanded experimentation on humans. Andy has the ability to influence minds. His wife, Vicky, had similar powers. Both of them were products of the Shop and after falling in love, they married and had a child. Their daughter, Charlie, has the power of pyrokinesis. She can create, control, and emit fire. When the Shop shows up to collect Charlie in order to weaponize her, they kill Vicky. Andy catches up to the agents, blinds them with his mind, and then he and Charlie go on the run. Along the way they run into a friendly farming couple named Irv and Norma. They have another standoff with the Shop agents (the one I have vivid memories of from my youth), and continue running. Eventually the Shop catches them and separates them. You’ll have to watch the film to find out what happens next.

The film is considered by many to be one of the most loyal adaptations of a King story. Andy’s part of the tale is cut out almost completely, but we get to see Charlie’s full story. As a kid I felt that the relationship between Andy and Charlie was very strong, but it doesn’t hold up as well for me as an adult. It’s more like a big brother/little sister relationship. Andy and Vicky’s whirlwind love story is glazed over and we really don’t get to see much of Heather Locklear at all in the film. The special effects are pretty hokey but they don’t deter from the movie as a whole. George C. Scott is a bit underwhelming and pervy as Rainbird. Martin Sheen doesn’t have much to do but he is a key player in the film’s climax. Overall, David Keith and Drew Barrymore give the strongest performances, especially Keith. He looks worn out and tired of running the entire time. He also looks very vulnerable whenever he tells Irv (Art Carney) the truth about his situation.

Firestarter isn’t my favorite Stephen King film adaptation. It has a few slow moments, awkward pacing, and one casting misfire (Scott), but the individual performances of Keith and Barrymore are solid even though their father/daughter relationship doesn’t quite mesh.

The new Firestarter film is supposedly even more loyal to the book than this version, so I’m hoping that it turns out to be a good film. I’m also hoping that we get a cameo from one of the 1984 cast in the new film. I plan on reviewing it after seeing it this weekend.

Thanks for taking a trip back in time with me. Let me know your feelings about Firestarter in the comments. Also feel free to let me know if there are any films out there that you’d like me to revisit on Throwback Thursday.

Throwback Thursday: The Librarian: Quest For The Spear (2004)

Noah Wyle and Sonya Walger star as Flynn and Nicole.

Cable network TNT has been cranking out original films since 1989 when it released Nightbreaker starring father/son duo Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez. The company has produced one hundred plus original films. Some of their most successful releases have been science fiction and adventure films. One film stands out above the rest of them, however, and that would be 2004’s The Librarian: Quest For The Spear. Despite an overall light atmosphere and questionable CGI, the film started a franchise that would include two sequels and a popular television series as well as comics and tie-in novels.

The Library.

In the film, perpetual student and all-around annoyingly intelligent nerd Flynn Carsen is forced out of college life by one of his professors in order for him to “see the world.” Upset that he can’t enroll for more classes for six months, Flynn heads home to his mother who has attempted yet again to set him up with a young lady. When that meeting goes south, Flynn heads to his room full of books in order to be miserable. His mother slips the mail onto a bookshelf for him. After stumbling over, a letter falls on him that invites him to the Metropolitan Public Library to interview for a position.

Flynn and his mother.

At the library, Flynn is chosen to be a Librarian, a member of a secret society that protects ancient artifacts, historically important items, and a number of legendary items that are real. Some of the items that Flynn is now responsible for include a unicorn, the Holy Grail, a jet pack, and the real Mona Lisa. Flynn is told about some of the other librarians that protected the items before him including the recently deceased Wilde.

Charlene and Judson.

Things go sideways when a secret group known as the Serpent Brotherhood sneak into the library on Flynn’s first night and steal a piece of the Spear of Destiny, the spear that pierced Jesus’ side while he was on the cross. Flynn is then sent on a mission to recover not only the stolen piece, but the two other pieces that are hidden across the world. High adventure sets in as Flynn travels from the library to the Amazonian Rain Forest where he teams up with one of the Guardians, protectors of the Librarians, named Nicole. The duo run from the Serpent Brotherhood, receive help from a local tribe, and eventually find the second piece of the spear only to learn that the previous Librarian, Wilde, is alive and well and part of the Serpent Brotherhood. He plans on uniting all three pieces of the spear in order to take control of the world. To find the third piece, however, he needs Flynn to translate a book written in the “Language of the Birds” to find the third piece. This leads the group to Shangri-La. Does Flynn save the day? I won’t spoil that part of the film for you. You’ll need to check it out for yourself.

The gang’s all here in Shangri-La.

The film has an amazing cast. Noah Wyle, one of the biggest stars on the long-running ER series, heads up the cast as Flynn. He portrays the character with awkward perfection. Wyle would go on to appear in the successful series Falling Skies after leaving ER and would also appear in both of the Librarian sequels and its television series spinoff. Wyle was nominated for the Saturn award for Best Actor in all three of his Librarian films and for Falling Skies. Nicole is played by the breathtakingly gorgeous Sonya Walger, no slouch on the screen herself, as she would go on to star in Lost, the very controversial Tell Me You Love Me, FlashForward, and For All Mankind. Kyle MacLachlan plays the wicked Wilde in the film. He’s probably best known for his work in Twin Peaks, Dune (1984), and Blue Velvet. For every lovely heroine there has to be a dastardly diva and Kelly Hu fits that perfectly as one of Wilde’s sidekicks, Lana. Hu has starred or co-starred in a number of television series and highly successful films over the years including Sunset Beach, X2, Warehouse 13, Hawaii 5-0, and The Scorpion King. Three legends round out the cast in supporting roles. Olympia Dukakis portrays Flynn’s mother and Jane Curtin and Bob Newhart portray Charlene and Judson, the administrator of the Library and a former Librarian that guides Flynn.

Lana gives a sheepish grin to Flynn. Despite being enemies she is a “fan of his work.”

This is a really fun, light adventure film. It’s somewhat of a mixture of the Indiana Jones films, The Mummy films featuring Brendan Fraser, and pretty much every cliched jungle adventure that has been produced over the years. The film knows this, however, and happily plays through its sequences knowing that it’s meant for nothing more than entertainment. Apparently it worked, based upon the film’s success and the success of its sequels and TV series spin-off.

A scaled down version of one of the Egyptian pyramids which ultimately plays an important role in the film.

There are hints of John Williams all over the place in Joseph LoDuca’s score. Known for his work in shows such as Xena: Warrior Princess and Spartacus, it should come as no surprise that he knows how to work his music into adventure stories. CGI was still fairly new in 2004. Its limitations are quite noticeable in this film but it doesn’t distract the viewer as much as you’d think.

Wilde and Lana size up the new Librarian and his Guardian.

It’s fun. That’s really all that I need to say about this film. It’s light, imperfect, and exactly what a made-for-TV movie should be but with a slightly larger budget. It has a great cast, fun cliffhanger moments, and knows its audience. If you have never watched The Librarian: Quest For The Spear before, give it a look. You won’t regret it. I’ll also be reviewing the other films in this series in the near future. All three of them are available on the free streamer Tubi and also on Blu-ray/DVD. The television series is available on a few different subscription services. Peacock also carries all three of the films.

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