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Site created 12/15/97.


review added: 11/18/99



The Stand
Special Edition - 1994 (1999) - Artisan Entertainment

review by Todd Doogan, special to The Digital Bits

The Stand Film Ratings: B+

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B+/B+/B

Specs and Features

366 mins, NR, full frame (1.33:1), dual-sided, dual-layered (DVD-18 - no layer switch), Amaray keep case packaging, audio commentary (with Stephen King, director Mick Garris, Rob Lowe, Ruby Dee, Miguel Ferrer, Jamey Sheridan and editor Pat McMahon), "making of" featurette, storyboards, make-up effects photo gallery, cast and crew info, production notes, film-themed menu screens with animation and sound, scene access (various by episode - The Plague: 22 chapters, The Dreams: 20 chapters, The Betrayal: 22 chapters, The Stand: 22 chapters), languages: English (DD 2.0), subtitles: English, Close Captioned


I don't know a horror fan out there that hasn't dedicated a month or so to reading The Stand at some point in their twisted lives. I know I have -- a couple of times. I even tried to save enough money to buy the leather-covered special edition (with the original Berni art) that came out when the expanded edition was released a few years back. Never did save enough before some other fan picked it up though. I hope he burns in hell. Anyway.

For as long as I loved this book, I wanted to see the film version made. Of course it would be hard to do. The book was originally 800 or more pages long, and there was no way to do it justice as a two-hour film. I was excited when I read somewhere that George A. Romero was involved, but it took so long that I pretty much let it go, happy with just the book. That is, until I read in Fango that they were finally doing it as a TV mini-series. That's when I got excited. Even if there's violence, sex and frank discussions that are key to the novel, TV is really the best avenue for this film, and pretty much the only way to go. I was skeptical, but excited, and I sat through the entire broadcast surprised at what they got away with (and a little upset with what didn't make it). Overall, I'm happy with The Stand. As a fan, I think the acting and casting choices are all good. I think they could have done better in their hair, make-up and costume choices, but that's nit-picking. I'm disappointed that not enough time was spent in the "New York" section of the book, and a few other things irk me. But again, I'm pretty much happy with the TV version of The Stand. Looking back now, I'd actually wish they'd waited to do a longer version for cable, but I'll shut up for now.

If you don't know what The Stand is about, shame on you. Go read the book. Stephen King's most masterful work is essential for any fan's library. In its most broken down state, the story is about Good versus Evil, after 99 percent of the human race is wiped off the planet by a super-flu developed by the government. When the flu escapes out of its containment area, it's unleashed upon an unsuspecting world. And when all is said and done, only a few people are left to rebuild humanity. Unfortunately, an evil being known as Randall Flagg has plans for those who don't join him. Can the good outweigh the bad? Will Evil find a way of destroying what's left of the world? Why is Laura San Giacomo wearing such a bad hairpiece (or whatever that God-awful thing is on her head)?

The Stand has always been an experience. In book form, on TV, and now DVD. This is the first feature on DVD-18 formatted DVD discs (for those not in the know, that means it's dual-layered on both sides to hold more data). The cast is pretty amazing, with Gary Sinise, Molly Ringwald, Ruby Dee, Ray Walston and Rob Lowe among others. They all do a great job. Director Mick Garris also does a fine job, especially when you consider the scope of the project. He's worked a few times with King, so he knows his stuff. There's a few slip-ups as a film, but like I said, it's a damn fine TV movie.

It's also a pretty good DVD. It's great to have the whole thing on one disc. Each of the four one-and-a-half hour episodes has it's own layer on the disc, so there's no concerns about DVD-18 RDSL layer switch problems. You can go to each episode, or watch two without having to use the remote after you start the first one. The picture quality is average. Nothing special, but still not in any way bad -- it just has a TV look to it. There are a few moments where you can see some digital artifacts in the darker areas, but it's pretty good overall. The sound isn't too killer, in its original 2.0 stereo, but it doesn't sound too bad, especially for something originally broadcast on television. Extras include a commentary track featuring Stephen King (by himself), and some of the actors, the director and the editor. It's an okay track, but you'll sometimes go a good half-hour without hearing someone talk. I was watching the movie, and forgot I had the commentary selected. All of a sudden King chimes in that the scene we're watching is his favorite part (where Ray Walston's character finds a cockroach) because it wasn't in the book. It actually scared me, because it just came out of nowhere. There's also a mini behind-the-scenes featurette (a publicity thing really), some storyboards and a couple of photo galleries. Overall, this disc isn't especially worth shouting about. But it is a DVD-18 disc, and I didn't find any bugs... and that's a good thing in my book.

King fans can rejoice -- one of his landmark works is finally here on DVD. It looks pretty good, sounds average, and has a few extras. But it's on one disc and it's on DVD, and that's what counts. Now if Warner would ever finally release Shawshank, I'd be a happy camper.

Todd Doogan
todddoogan@thedigitalbits.com




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