Mark L. Lester Talks Firestarter, Class of 1984 and Lots More! - Dread Central
Connect with us

Mark L. Lester Talks Firestarter, Class of 1984 and Lots More!

Published

on

Mark L. Lester is a friend to horror and wild cinema in general. Though his name may not be instantly recognizable to some, a quick look at his credentials will rectify that!

He produced and contributed to the script for Tobe Hooper’s wonderfully weird The Funhouse. As a director, his savage and prophetic Class of 1984 still disturbs to this day, for an unnerving amount of reasons. His adaptation of Firestarter captured a freakish tornado of both unintentional and deliberate violence. And the battering ram impact of Commando, his most successful feature, remains respected worldwide.

Recognize him now? And do you want a chance to win an autographed DVD of Class of 1984 or Commando (see details below)?

Mark L. Lester Talks Firestarter, Class of 1984 and Lots More!

Indeed, Firestarter and Commando are lined up for remakin’. Surprise, surprise. While the two 80’s staples are being put back through the machine, Lester is staying busy ushering new films onto screens via his distribution company American World Pictures.

We caught up with Mr. Lester to chat about his past, present and future, which led to some fun trips down memory lane.

On Firestarter:

“Originally John Carpenter was gonna direct that,” Lester reveals. “There was a script that was written, I forget who wrote it. Then the budget was way out of line, like $15 million. And the script had no relationship to the book whatsoever. They didn’t want to shoot it for that amount of money so Dino de Laurentiis came to me and said, ‘I read the book. Can you make a treatment out of this?’ So I brought in Stanley Mann, who I knew, and when we wrote the treatment, we styled [it after] the book exactly scene for scene. We gave it Dino De Laurentiis, and he said, ‘Well this just follows the book exactly…’ Well, yeah, of course! You paid a million dollars for the book, I said, ‘Why aren’t you following the book? That’s why this thing can’t get made yet. We’ll just shoot the book.’ And he says, ‘Okaaaaay…’ So within three weeks the script was written, and we had a green light from Universal to make the film just off the script, which was identical to the book.”

Lester confirms that Firestarter has been his most difficult film to date. “That was all practical [effects]. The fireballs you see … that’s not CGI. Back then, we actually created fireballs that could fly through the air – they were on a wire and could crash into buildings. We had people on fire that were on trampolines that had to flip through the air. It was very dangerous. All the effects were done right on the set – it was a pretty intense thing to do then…” Lester also notes that the film’s epic “farm attack” scene took an entire week to film.

On Class of 1984:

Lester considers his favorite film he’s made to be a tie between 1982’s Class of 1984 and 1985’s Commando. Understandable, as Commando was his most successful feature and Class of 1984 was an original concept of Lester’s, based on visiting his old high school. “[It] had been taken over by a gang,” Lester shares of his return to his alma mater. “When I went to it, it was a peaceful, wonderful place. All of the sudden, it was a dangerous place. I thought, ‘Wow, this would make a really good film.’ I was a big fan of Blackboard Jungle and [John] Ford movies so that kind of inspired me to do a gang-run-amok-in-a-high-school [film].”

Lester acknowledges 84’s unfortunate historical significance. “There were beginnings of different violent incidences in schools so I researched all that. And actually, in the movie, when we have the checking for weapons at the school…that was like ‘Oh my God, that’ll never happen in schools.’ And now its commonplace in various schools.”

After what’s happened in recent years, Lester holds a different opinion of his film. “Now it’s tame – after Columbine, it’s tame. In the beginning of the movie, if you look at it, it opens with a card that says, ‘Last year, there were 280,000 incidents of violence by students against their teachers and classmates in our high schools Unfortunately, this film is partially based on true events.’ So there was a warning at the beginning of the film that was very prophetic because the warning didn’t even comprehend what actually would happen. It’s happened. And it looks pretty tame today because at the end of the movie the gang leader [is only] fighting with a knife … ”

On Commando:

“I met [producer] Joel Silver at a party at the Playboy Mansion; we were standing around in our pajamas. He said, ‘Oh, you gotta direct this picture – we have Schwarzenegger.’ That’s all I needed to hear because he had done Terminator – I thought he was amazing. I immediately signed on. There was a just a rudimentary script, then it was rewritten – and it’s become a classic. I couldn’t imagine at the time how big the movie would be.” As for the remake mentioned above, unfortunately Lester will not be involved. “In May I was flying back on a plane from Europe, and I met the head of Twentieth Century Fox. I’d been trying to get the remake rights for some time. I never thought of a remake – I was thinking of a sequel. I said, ‘I wanna buy the sequel rights – I’ll pay $2 million.’ He said, ‘Oh, why that film?’ I said because there’s websites dedicated to it, there’s a huge fanbase, people know every line in the movie…’ Three days later they announced a remake of the film.”

On his current projects:

As a devoted producer of such genre flicks as Pterodactyl, Wraiths of Roanoke and Yeti: Curse of the Snow Demon, Lester continues to work in creature features. His recent producer credits include a new Beauty and the Beast, Sinbad and the Minotaur, and Jabberwocky ( “based on the Lewis Carroll poem” ). In the meantime, his American World Pictures will be distributing horror flicks such as Detention (available on DVD April 12th), The Frankenstein Syndrome, and Kill Katie Malone ( “about kids who buy a ghost on the Internet”).

Mark L. Lester Talks Firestarter, Class of 1984 and Lots More!

If that’s not enough to keep him busy, Lester is also taking a seat once again in the director’s chair for the sea monster movie Leviathan. He also recently directed Groupie, an intense-looking film about a cursed band starring Taryn Manning and the great Eric Roberts (available on DVD around March or April). “I’m gonna get back heavy into directing in the next couple years,” Lester confirms. Sounds good to us!

To enter to win a signed DVD, just send an e-mail here with YOUR NAME and FULL MAILING ADDRESS. Good luck, folks! Look for more from Lester soon!

Chris Haberman

VISIT THE EVILSHOP @ AMAZON!
Got news? Click here to submit it!
Meet your future in the comments section below.

Image Type 1:

Continue Reading
Comments

Reviews

Desolation Review: Campers + Lunatic = Simplicity, But Not Always a Better Product

Published

on

DesolationStarring Jaimi Page, Alyshia Ochse, Toby Nichols

Directed by Sam Patton


I’m usually all in when it comes to a psycho in the woods flick, but there was just something about Sam Patton’s Desolation that seemed a bit distant for me…distance…desolation – I’m sure there’s a connection in there somewhere. Either that or I’m suffering from a minor case of sleep-deprivation. Either way, make sure you’ve got your backpack stuffed, cause we’re hitting the timber-lands for this one.

The film focuses on mother and son tandem Abby and Sam, and the tragic notion that Abby’s love and father to her son, has passed away. The absence has been a crippling one, and Abby’s idea of closure is to take her adolescent offspring to the woods where her husband used to love to run and scatter his ashes as a memorial tribute. Abby invites her best friend Jenn along as emotional support, and together all three are planning on making this trip a fitting and dedicatory experience…until the mystery man shows up. Looking like a member of the Ted Kaczynski clan (The Unabomber himself), this creepy fellow seems content to simply watch the threesome, and when he ultimately decides to close the distance, it’ll be a jaunt in the forest that this close-knit group will never forget.

So there you have it – doesn’t beg a long, descriptive, bled-out dissertation – Patton tosses all of his cards on the table in plain view for the audience to scan at their leisure. While the tension is palpable at times, it’s the equivalent of watching someone stumble towards the edge of a cliff, and NEVER tumble over…for a long time – you literally watch them do the drunken two-step near the lip for what seems like an eternity. What I’m getting at is that the movie has the bells and whistles to give white-knucklers something to get amped about, yet it never all seems to come into complete focus, or allow itself to spread out in such a way that you can feel satisfied after the credits roll. If I may harp on the performance-aspect for a few, it basically broke down this way for me: both Abby and Jenn’s characters were well-displayed, making you feel as if you really were watching long-time besties at play. Sam’s character was a bit tough to swallow, as he was the sadder-than-sad kid due to his father’s absence, but JEEZ this kid was a friggin malcontented little jerk – all I can say is “role well-played, young man.”

As we get to our leading transient, kook, outsider – whatever you want to call him: he simply shaved down into a hum-drum personality – no sizzle here, folks. Truly a disappointment for someone who was hoping for an enigmatic nutbag to terrorize our not-so-merry band of backpackers – oh well, Santa isn’t always listening, I guess. Simplicity has its place and time when displaying the picture-perfect lunatic, and before everyone gets a wild hair across their ass because of what I’m saying, all this is was the wish to have THIS PARTICULAR psycho be a bit more colorful – I can still appreciate face-biters like Hannibal Lecter and those of the restrained lunacy set. Overall, Desolation is one of those films that had all the pieces meticulously set in place, like a house of cards…until that drunk friend stumbled into the table, sending everything crumbling down. A one-timer if you can’t find anything else readily available to watch.

  • Film
2.5

Summary

Looking for a little direction way out in the woods? Look elsewhere, because this guide doesn’t have a whole lot to offer.

Sending
User Rating 0 (0 votes)
Continue Reading

News

New 78/52 Clip Showers Off

Published

on

To celebrate the UK DVD release of the Psycho doc 78/52, we have a brand spanking new clip for you cats to go crazy over. Watch it quick; you don’t want to keep Mother waiting!

The flick, from director Alexandre O. Phillipe, features interviews with Walter Murch, Peter Bogdanovich, Guillermo del Toro, Jamie Lee Curtis, Osgood Perkins, Danny Elfman, Eli Roth, Elijah Wood, Bret Easton Ellis, Marli Renfro – body double for Janet Leigh in Psycho, Karyn Kusama, Neil Marshall, Richard Stanley, and many more.

An unprecedented look at the iconic shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, the ‘Man behind the Curtain’, and the screen murder that profoundly changed the course of world cinema, 78/52 references the number of set-ups (78) and the number of cuts (52) in the shower scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. One entire week out of the four weeks scheduled to shoot Psycho — a full quarter of the film’s production schedule — was dedicated to the infamous shower scene.

Continue Reading

News

Joel David Moore to Write and Direct the Remake of Hit Korean Film Hide and Seek

Published

on

Joel David Moore is an actor we all know from his roles in James Cameron’s Avatar and Adam Green’s original Hatchet film. But did you know he also co-directed Adam Green’s psychological thriller Spiral? Well, he did and now the man is stepping back behind the camera for CJ Entertainment’s upcoming remake of the 2013 Korean Movie Hide and Seek.

Moore will write an adapted feature English-language screenplay for Hide and Seek in addition to directing the film. The original Korean version was written and directed by Huh Jung.

“Hide and Seek is a sharp, sophisticated thriller that created a lasting imprint on me,” said Joel David Moore. “I wanted to explore what could happen if we retold this story to an American audience, using the tools from the original story. We found a rich and complex world, relevant to our current race, class and power struggles we’re seeing here in America. I’m excited to partner with CJ Entertainment, perfect partners on this journey.”

CJ Entertainment is developing, financing and producing the film.

We’ll let you know when we hear more!

Synopsis:

Based on a phenomenon that actually happens, the film centers on a man searching for his long-lost brother stumbles upon a secret world of squatters living in the homes of unsuspecting tenants – a revelation that becomes all the more menacing when his home becomes the next target.

Hide and Seek is a social horror-thriller that builds upon themes related to the widening gap between the upper 1% and the lower class. As the population in urban areas balloon and real estate prices skyrocket, lower-income segments of society are finding themselves continually getting pushed out. This film explores the question of “what if” when those left marginalized decide to take matters, and homes, into their own hands.

Continue Reading

Recent Comments

Advertisement

Go Ad Free!

Support Dread Central on Patreon!

Join the Box of Dread Mailing List

* indicates required

Trending