Firestarter (2022) vs. Firestarter (1984)

The burning question: Does the 2022 remake of the ’80s Stephen King adaptation of Firestarter hold up to the original? Let’s find out!

Everything old is new-ish again—what a time to be an intellectual property owner! Add 1984’s Firestarter to the growing list of remakes of movies from yesteryear, because a brand-new Firestarter is premiering Friday, May 13, in theaters and on Peacock.

But is a new Firestarter movie necessary? First, exhale a sigh of relief that it’s not back as an eight-part Peacock series, then let’s dive into how the ’80s original stacks up against the 2022 remake.

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Critical reception (winner): Firestarter (2022)

As of this writing, there are no advance reviews of the new Firestarter, but it can only improve on the critical standing of the original 1984 adaptation of the Stephen King novel. It sits at just 53% on Rotten Tomatoes, and King himself has called it “one of the worst” movie takes on his work. Ouch.

Cast (winner): Firestarter (1984)

With all due respect to the cast of Firestarter 2022, the 1984 version starred David Keith, George C. Scott, Martin Sheen, Art Carney, and Heather Locklear—that’s a solid A-list for the Reagan years. Besides Disney-kid-turned-real-actor Zac Efron and Kurtwood Smith (That ’70s Show), the new movie is somewhat lacking in star power.

Special F/X (winner): Firestarter (2022)

One of the very few aspects that critics of Firestarter 1984 liked at the time were its special effects, but that was then. No way a $12 million ’80s movie can compete with a modern Blumhouse production; the trailer for Firestarter 2022 alone blows the original away. You could even say it’s “fire,” if you dare.

Soundtrack (winner): Firestarter (1984)

While it’s karmically cool the Firestarter 2022 hired John Carpenter to score the new film (he was fired as director of the ’80s version), Firestarter 1984’s soundtrack was provided by German electronic duo Tangerine Dream—a boldly strange choice at the time. The dreamy synth music doesn’t necessarily fit a horror movie, but Tangerine Dream’s soundtrack album still holds up.

High School Musical connections (winner): Firestarter (2022)

Firestarter 1984 had big stars, but were any of them in beloved Disney franchise High School Musical? Nope. Meanwhile, Firestarter 2022 has Troy Bolton himself, Zac Efron, as the father of the titular child flamethrower (Ryan Kiera Armstrong, taking on the famed Drew Barrymore role). The new Firestarter bops to the top here easily.

Firestarter (2022) premieres Friday, May 13 on Peacock and in theaters. Firestarter (1984) is also available to stream on Peacock.

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