Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Stephen King's The Stand (1994)

The Stand is a 1994 adaptation of a popular Stephen King novel, directed by Mick Garris (who put together the more recent Masters of Horror series), in the form of a television miniseries consisting of four 90 minute episodes. For many years I had known of The Stand (whether in book or TV format), but it wasn't until just the past couple days that I actually sat down and watched it (yay for Netflix!). Before I get into some of the finer details, let me say that my overarching impression of it was that it was not quite so grim or epic as I had anticipated (in the form of mankind's last stand during the apocalypse), but, if you take into account the inconsistent track record of adaptations of Stephen King's novels, and ground your expectations, I think it's well worth watching.

It starts with a fantastic premise. A viral outbreak in some laboratory in the U.S. releases a way-too-effective super-flu into the general population, ushering in the apocalypse-by-plague. This stage of the story is exciting, but while we've seen it in myriad iterations through the years, this is just the beginning of this particular story. Most of the human race is decimated, but a small percentage is naturally immune to the disease. So the question that's raised is, what happens to the survivors after most of the world's population is eliminated?

You could go in any number of directions at this point, and the direction Stephen King takes us involves a face-off between two very different segments of the surviving population - the good people versus the bad people. But that's not all; in true Stephen King supernatural style, there are biblical underpinnings to the face-off, when a demon shows up to take advantage of the post-apocalyptic wasteland and corral all the bad people, while God chooses a messenger to rally the nicer folk to her cause, all of which occurs largely in prophetic dreams.

So yeah, things get kinda complex, but also very black and white. However, there are some good characters, and the TV series makes use of many familiar actors, including the likes of Molly Ringwald among many others. The series is unfortunately very dated to the early-mid nineties, but I'll say that I really liked the score (presumably composed by W.G. Snuffy Walden), which consists of lots of instrumental rock parts with slide guitars that seem to suit the frequent desert locations. At the end of the day, the series has maybe a bit too much drama, and ends on too saccharine a note. And the biblical angle - while I don't resent the use of the age-old theme of good versus evil, nor the idea of a demonic villain and saintly hero - gets tiresome pretty quickly. But as a dramatic horror television miniseries, it's worth a ride.

No comments:

Post a Comment