Stephen King's The Stand (1994)

Actors: Gary Sinise, Molly Ringwald, Jamey Sheridan, Ruby Dee, Miguel Ferrer
Directors: Mick Garris
Producers: Stephen King
Format: Color, DVD, Special Edition, Import, NTSC
Region: 1 (U.S. and Canada only)
Number of discs: 2
Rated: Unrated
Run Time: 366 minutes




Back in the 1980s and 1990s it was quite de rigueur to turn every single word horror writer Stephen King has ever written into a TV mini-series or movie. This 1994 mini-series boasts a screenplay by King himself and is directed by Mick Garris, who also did King’s Sleepwalkers and Desperation.

Nothing to get excited about though: both King and Garris also worked together on the sucky TV remake of The Shining, which proved that sometimes authors should be kicked off their own movies as Stanley Kubrick did when he directed his classic film version of King’s novel starring Jack Nicholson.

Based on one of King’s earlier works, a 1 000 plus pages whopper of a doorstop novel, The Stand is about a superflu that kills off more than 90% of the world’s population. In the subsequent aftermath survivors are haunted by supernatural dreams of a mysterious evil stranger who might be Satan himself . . .

The Stand starred Gary Sinise and two other faces who might be familiar to anyone who grew up watching movies in the ‘Eighties, namely Molly Ringwald and Rob Lowe; both of whom were well past their sell-by date by the time this mini-series was aired. Stephen King also makes an extended cameo that proves that he was wise to stick to his day job as writer. With a few notable exceptions, the acting is mostly wooden however. (Part of the problem lies with King’s dialogue, which may have worked on the written page but sounds eccentric when spoken by real flesh and blood actors.)

The Stand has recently been earmarked for a big screen remake by Warner Bros., but it is difficult to imagine how the events of King’s huge novel can be condensed into a single full-length movie. This mini-series clocks in at about six hours, which makes it preferable for one to stretch it out over several days’ viewing instead of one marathon setting. It is watchable but let down by some cheesy makeup and lighting routines. One can easily see how the material may benefit from a bigger budget and more modern film-making techniques and special effects. The opening scene featuring Blue Oyster Cult's Don't Fear the Reaper still remains to be beaten. But it is all downhill from there on.

WORTH IT? Fans of Stephen King and post-apocalyptic scenarios will have a blast. Speaking of which, the mini-series – like the novel – ends anticlimactically, proving that King doesn’t always know how to satisfactorily wrap up his storylines. The Stand is also surprisingly schmaltzy for a novel by a guy who admitted in an interview that he had fun writing The Stand because it gave him the chance to scrub out humanity . . .

RECOMMENDATION: It may be ripe for a remake, but if you have some time to kill indiscriminately then The Stand will fit the bill.



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