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

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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

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The Cast of Westworld Explains Why the Show Is a Must-Watch for Horror Fans

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“Westworld” Season 2 kicks off on Sunday, April 22nd at 9 PM on HBO, and fans of the high-concept sci-fi thriller are chomping at the bit; it’s understandable since Season 1 wrapped way back in late 2016.

While I have a wide definition of the term “horror”, believing it’s more of a sensation than a genre, many Dread Central readers may be wondering if a show about robot cowboys is worth their time and attention.

While I’d recommend “Westworld” to anyone who loves stylized violence, gore, and suspense, we challenged members of the cast to sell the series to potentially reluctant horror fans. How would they respond, for example, to a friend who dismisses the show because they watch horror almost exclusively?

Here are the responses we got from Luke Hemsworth (who plays Head of Security Ashley Stubbs), Angela Sarafyan (who plays host Clementine Pennyfeather), and Clifton Collins, Jr. (who plays both Lawrence and El Lazo).

Dread Central: Complete this sentence: “If you love horror movies, you should watch ‘Westworld’ because…”

Luke Hemsworth: If you love horror movies, you should watch “Westworld” because it’s really gory. It’s pretty dark and it’s also pretty smart.

Angela Sarafyan: You should definitely watch “Westworld” because it makes you face death. It’s a show that questions your mortality. The show not only projects these feelings, but makes you think about the boundlessness of human destruction and how far we can take our reality. Meaning: Will technology eventually be our destruction?

Clifton Collins, Jr: If you love horror movies, you should watch “Westworld” because the same rushes you get from scares in a horror movie, those thrilling and suspenseful events happen in the show. Just from reading it I can tell Season 2 is really cranked-up compared to Season 1. You’re going to have those moments where your heart palpitates or skips a beat and a lot of “Oh my gosh!” moments. There are some serious white-knuckle moments this season. It’s the same thrill you get from watching a horror film!


Westworld isn’t your typical amusement park. Intended for rich vacationers, the futuristic park — which is looked after by robotic “hosts” — allows its visitors to live out their fantasies through artificial consciousness. No matter how illicit the fantasy may be, there are no consequences for the park’s guests, allowing for any wish to be indulged. “Westworld” — which is based on the 1973 Michael Crichton movie of the same name — features an all-star cast that includes Oscar winner Anthony Hopkins and Golden Globe winner Ed Harris.

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New Interactive Xenomorph Game Launches This Alien Day

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Alien Day is rapidly approaching on April 26th and today we have news that a new first-of-its-kind interactive survival game is on its way via 20th Century Fox.

The game invites players to experience the intensity and imminent threats of Alien individually, or up to three players in collaborative gameplay and is called Alien: Offworld Colony Simulator. It’s a turned-based survival game that simulates a Weyland-Yutani Space Colony in security lockdown.

Weyland-Yutani is inviting civilians to participate in an open Beta test of “The Offworld Colony Simulator” – an advanced system that simulates security breach scenarios in non-terrestrial colonies. Those that participate in the Open Beta will help teach the system’s AI to accurately simulate human behavior in the face of otherworldly dangers.

Utilizing the Amazon Alexa service, players need to collect items, solve puzzles and explore unmarked territories to successfully move through the colony, unlock sectors, and avoid capture in a Xenomorph-infested space colony.

If you can’t wait until Alien Day, get a head start with the Weyland-Yutani Career Placement Test – a multi-question aptitude test to determine if applicants have what it takes for a role at the interplanetary Weyland-Yutani organization. Complemented with a sweepstakes, the test launches for fans on April 23 at AlienUniverse.com.

The game launches exclusively on Amazon Alexa Devices & Alienuniverse.com one minute prior to Alien Day at 11:59 PM ET on April 25th.

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Jurassic World 2 Gets Yet Another Poster – and Funko Pop Figures!

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Jesus, please us, enough with these Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom poster, amirite? I’m just kidding (I’m not) but seriously today we have yet another poster for the upcoming sequel to Jurassic World… Plus new Funko figures!

The Funko Pop figures will hit this summer, coinciding with the film’s June 22 US release date and include Chris Pratt’s Owen, Bryce Dallas Howard’s Claire, Blue the Velociraptor, Stygimoloch, Indoraptor, Owen with Blue (Target exclusive), and a 10″ super-sized Tyrannosaurus Rex (Target exclusive).

You can check out the new poster to the right and pics of the Funko line below and then make sure to let us know what you think in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram!

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is directed by J.A. Bayona (The Impossible) from a script written by Trevorrow, and Derek Connolly. The film stars Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, James Cromwell, Ted Levine, Justice Smith, Geraldine Chaplin, Daniella Pineda, Toby Jones, Rafe Spall, and Isabella Sermon, while BD Wong and Jeff Goldblum reprise their roles from prior films. Look for it in theaters on June 22, 2018.

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