9. Firestarter (1984)

Directed by Mark L. Lester
Written by Stanley Mann
Starring Drew Barrymore, David Keith, and Charlie Sheen

Only anger can unlock Charlie’s dangerous power, sort of like Nynaeve in the Wheel of Time books. Andy, Charlie’s telekinetic father, teaches her mental discipline. Please don’t set the family on fire. That kind of thing. What a bummer when your supernatural ability doesn’t have many practical applications. But it’s useful when a shady government agency kills your mom (played by Heather Locklear), kidnaps you, and tries to figure out how to weaponize your power. I remember when all the boys and men lusted after Locklear and other women with her body type, back when the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issues were more of a thing. This was pre-puberty, and I didn’t care. Drew Barrymore was a sex symbol for my generation. Girls next door were now welcome into the club of sexual objectification. My friend C. had the biggest crush on Drew. In his lavender car, as we sang along to the Cure’s “Charlotte Sometimes,” C. thought of her: “Come to me, scared princess.” He dragged me and our goth friends to see Never Been Kissed in the theater. I smuggled in airplane bottles of liquor that my parents, who don’t drink, mysteriously had in the house. There wasn’t enough alcohol to get us buzzed, but at least C. got his Barrymore fix. I guess what I’m saying is that it’s really weird to see Drew as a young girl. Oh Drew, why were we so drawn to your vulnerable feminity? My attraction to girls was never simple. There was the shitty virgin/whore fixation, of course. But I also wanted badly to be pretty like them. I was a brown dude, so I was ugly by default. If only I could look like/were a cis white girl, I’d know real happiness. Speaking of racism, George C. Scott plays an American Indian assassin with plans to kill Charlie. At the moment of her death, he wants to look her in the eye and absorb her power for the next world. How satisfying to watch his immolation, like a looped video of a Nazi getting punched in the face, set to Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA.” This is America, goddammit. We love our revenge fantasies.

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