FIRESTORM represented an opportunity for talented adult filmmaker Howard Winters a/k/a “Cecil Howard” to do pure soap opera rather than the convoluted psychological explorations – such as NEON NIGHTS, SCOUNDRELS and SNAKE EYES – he and his regularly contributing writer Anne Wolff (a/k/a “Anne Randall”) were justifiably famous for. The result proved one of their greatest collaborations : a multi-layered melodrama told in then revolutionary non-linear fashion, liberally flashing forward and backward in time (a technique since surpassed and taken to dizzying extremes by motion pictures and TV series alike), with memorable characters portrayed with all the professionalism this superstar cast could muster.
Down on his luck author Kenny Cushing (veteran performer Eric Edwards doing some of his best work along with the “Harry Crocker” movies he did for Ron Sullivan) finds himself hired by ludicrously wealthy Magda Balcourt (class act Kay Parker, the reluctantly incestuous mom from Kirdy Stevens’ TABOO series) to ghost-write her autobiography. Along with husband Lee (the inimitable John Leslie), she’s apparently “rolling in oil” though their involvement in shady dealings with powerful people will cost them dearly before the film’s over. Installed in the Balcourt mansion by Magda, who has plans other than dictating her life story and refuses to take no for an answer, Kenny sneaks out in the middle of the night for drinks at a bar where his former girlfriend Liza (the scene-stealing Victoria Jackson a/k/a “Tina Marie”, unforgettable star of Kemal Horulu’s NEVER SLEEP ALONE) works as an exotic dancer. Their relationship ended abruptly when Ken caught her cheating in the awesome award-winning “red scene” with George Payne, Sharon Kane and Michael Bruce, Kane’s then boyfriend and an unfortunate HIV casualty since. The passion’s quickly rekindled though, with Liza seeking to add some spice to their already incendiary lovemaking by forcing Kenny to phone the Balcourt residence, only to find himself unwittingly talking dirty to the family’s blind daughter Claire (beautiful blonde Joanna Storm in a heartbreaking career turn). A flashback informs us that Claire’s blindness occurred as a result of catching her mother seducing her boyfriend Louis (Sean Elliott, also in Ron Sullivan’s MASCARA and THE WIDESPREAD SCANDALS OF LYDIA LACE) on her sweet sixteen birthday ! The unassuming catalyst who propels the plot to its inevitable conclusion turns out to be Lee’s secretary and mistress Barbara (German starlet Rikki Harte, also in Howard’s SPITFIRE and SNAKE EYES), a bungling burglar attempting to make off with her employer’s secret ledger detailing all of his financial wrongdoings.
While complex, the intertwining story lines shouldn’t provide much of a challenge to anyone willing to devote the necessary attention to the proceedings as everything fits together quite logically in the end. Even the title is explained by Edwards to interviewer Veronica Hart (unfortunately in a brief non-sex role) as a poetic term – well, he is a writer after all – for the overwhelming love he felt for Claire with whom he shares a brief three-way romance under Liza’s watchful tutelage. Though the movie stands perfectly well on its own, certain characters (like society siren Elise Paul, played by Sharon Mitchell, instrumental in directing Kenny towards the Balcourts) seem somewhat underdeveloped at this stage, an error amply rectified by two sequels. Production is purely professional in every aspect with glowing cinematography and exquisite lighting, razor-sharp editing that keeps the pace up and running even at 105 minutes in length and one of the finest theme songs (D’Arcy Brooke’s hauntingly romantic “Coming Back to Me”) ever bestowed upon an adult film.