Blu-ray Review: Stephen King’s The Stand



Stephen King had originally published The Stand in 1978 as already huge book at over 800 pages. Then in 1990, when he was the largest name in the book world, he flexed his muscles and released the uncut version of The Stand with an additional 300 pages. The book was size of the Manhattan phone directory. This either version made it a tricky thing to adapt into a theatrical feature. King and George Romero tried in the ’80s, but nothing succeeded without asking audiences to buy tickets and forward their mail to the cineplex. During the ’80s, the TV networks weren’t too hot on an extended mini-series about the end of humanity. But by the mid-90s America was ready to embrace a bio-weapon disaster and Stephen King had a script. Instead of George Romero, Mick Garris took the helm of the mini-series production. Garris had done well with King as the director of Sleepwalkers, the first film with a script King had written directly for the screen. The Stand became a sensation when it ran for four nights in May of 1994. Now all four nights have been upgraded to Blu-ray to let you see more into the apocalypse.

A remote military base in Southern California has an accident in the lab. A weaponized version of the flu called Project Blue has been released and quickly claims victims. The emergency protocol kicks into effect except the guard at the gate decides to refuse to stay on base. He grabs his wife and kid so they can escape. Except this turns out to be a bad plan since they’re infected. They speed across the country to Texas where he finally wrecks the car and dies. The flu spreads swiftly across the United States and beyond. People think they just have a cough before they look horrible and drop dead. A few people find themselves immune to the Project Blue bug. This is when The Stand goes beyond just another end of the world science fiction tale of survivors in humanity’s wasteland. Turns out there’s two supernatural beings that are calling the various immune people to them. The nicest is an old lady living near a cornfield. She sits on her porch and makes all feel welcome. The other has the ability to turn into a crow. He has evil purposes and wants what’s left of mankind to stage another final battle.

The mini-series was a major hit because they were able to land a lot of stars in the cast. Gary Sinise (Forrest Gump), Molly Ringwald (Pretty in Pink), Jamey Sheridan (Homeland), Rob Lowe (St. Elmo’s Fire), Laura San Giacomo (Just Shoot Me), Miguel Ferrer (Twin Peaks), Ruby Dee (A Raisin in the Sun), Bill Fagerbakke (Patrick on SpongeBob SquarePants), Corin Nemec (Parker Lewis Can’t Lose), Adam Storke (Mystic Pizza), Ray Walston (Fast Times at Ridgemont High), Matt Frewer (Max Headroom), Ossie Davis (Cotton Comes To Harlem), Shawnee Smith (Becker) and even Stephen King show up on the small screen. The famous drive-in movie critic Joe Bob Briggs constantly points out that the mark of a great horror film is that anybody can die at anytime. Joe Bob proves that in the mini-series when he pops up as a Texan sheriff with a nagging cough.

When The Stand came out on VHS, it was on enough tapes to be as thick as the book’s spine. But thanks to the technological advances of Blu-ray, you can now get to watch all six hours (after the commercials have been excised) on a single disc. You can get a in-depth feel for the book without having to plow through 1,000 plus pages which could take you six weeks. Mick Garris made a film that easily gets you stuck on the sofa wanting to see what’s next. Hitting the “Play All” button makes this a movie since you’re not waiting a day to get to the next episode or even having to stand up and swap out the tapes. You’re able to let the story twist from biohazard horror to supernatural battle without interruption. You’ll be wanting a sweet spot on the sofa when you’re ready to revisit Stephen King’s The Stand.

The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The new 1080p transfer brings out the details of the apocalyptic nightmare. This looks better than when you set the VCR in the early ’90s. The audio is DTS-HD MA Stereo. You’ll hear the crow caw. There’s dubs in German and Castilian. The subtitles include English, German, Castilian, Finnish, Swedish, Norwegian and Danish.

Audio Commentary features Mick Garris and Stephen King from back in 1999. King mentions that the original mini-series of It made him see TV as the place for The Stand. During the talk the duo are joined by Rob Lowe, Miguel Ferrer and Jamey Sheridan

The Making of Stephen King’s The Stand (5:28) is the vintage documentary letting you know that this is a serious production from TV.

CBS DVD presents Steven King’s The Stand. Directed by Mick Garris. Screenplay by: Stephen King. Starring: Gary Sinise, Molly Ringwald, Jamey Sheridan, Rob Lowe, Laura San Giacomo, Miguel Ferrer, Ruby Dee & Bill Fagerbakke. Rated: Unrated. Running Time: 359 minutes. Released: September 24, 2019

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