The Stand (aKa Stephen King’s The Stand) is a 1994 television post-apocalyptic horror miniseries directed by Mick Garris (Sleepwalkers, Riding the Bullet, The Shining, Desperation, Quicksilver Highway, & Bag of Bones). It’s based on the 1978 novel of the same name by master of horror Stephen King (Castle Rock, Maximum Overdrive, Silver Bullet, Doctor Sleep, IT, Pet Sematary, The Outsider, The Dead Zone, & Creepshow) who also wrote the script for this. It was produced by Richard P. Rubinstein (Dawn of the Dead, Martin, The Langoliers, The Night Flier, Golden Years, Thinner, Pet Sematary, & Creepshow 1/2). George A. Romero was originally going to do this as a two part film but this mini series was developed before he could get started on the big project. The miniseries was shot in several locations & on 225 sets total for the production. Each episode got a $6 million budget plus an additional $3 million for development. They shot on 16MM to save on costs. It originally aired on ABC from May 8th to May 12th, 1994. It was was nominated for six Primetime Emmy Awards & it won two that night. It has been remade & it will be premier on CBS soon!!!!
On June 13th at a top-secret government laboratory a weaponized version of influenza called Project Blue is accidentally released. A U.S. Army soldier Charlie Campion (played by: Ray McKinnon from Mayans M.C., Sons of Anarchy, & Deadwood) escapes the lab & travels across the country where he unintentionally spreading the virus. Campion crashes his car into a gas station in Texas where Stu Redman (played by: Gary Sinise from Forrest Gump, The Green Mile, Of Mice and Men, & Apollo 13) & some friends are gathered. As Campion dies, he warns Redman that he had been pursued by a “Dark Man”. The next day, the U.S. military arrives to quarantine the town. The townspeople are taken to a CDC facility in Vermont. All but Stu succumb to the superflu, which kills 99.4% of the world’s population in two weeks. The scattered survivors include would-be rock star Larry Underwood (played by: Adam Storke from Mystic Pizza, Death Becomes Her, & Highway to Hell), deaf mute Nick Andros (played by: Rob Lowe from Frank & Jesse, The Outsiders, Wayne’s World, & Tommy Boy), Frannie Goldsmith (played by: Molly Ringwald from The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink, & Riverdale), her teenaged neighbor Harold Lauder (played by: Corin Nemec from Stargate SG-1, Lake Placid vs. Anaconda, Boston Strangler: The Untold Story, & Drop Zone), imprisoned criminal Lloyd Henreid (played by: Miguel Ferrer from Robocop, Twin Peaks,Iron Man 3, & The Night Flier), & “Trashcan Man” (played by: Matt Frewer from Watchmen, Dawn of the Dead, Riding the Bullet, & Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace). The survivors begin having visions, either from kindly Mother Abagail (played by: Ruby Dee from American Gangster, Do the Right Thing, Jungle Fever, & Cat People) or from the demonic Randall Flagg (played by: Jamey Sheridan from Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Arrow, Whispers in the Dark, & The Ice Storm).
The dreams counsel the survivors to either travel to Nebraska to meet Abagail, or to Las Vegas to join Flagg. Lloyd is freed from prison by Flagg in exchange for becoming his second in command. Larry escapes New York City with a mysterious woman named Nadine Cross (played by: Laura San Giacomo from Just Shoot Me, Pretty Woman, Animal Kingdom, & Sex, Lies, and Videotape). After escaping the CDC facility, Stu gathers a group of survivors which includes Frannie, Harold, & former college professor Glen Bateman (played by: Ray Walston from Of Mice and Men, The Sting, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, & Popeye). Nick barely escapes an attempt on his life in Arkansas & makes his way across the Mid-South where he meets Tom Cullen (played by: Bill Fagerbakke from Coach, SpongeBob SquarePants, Dumb and Dumber TV Series, & Jumanji TV Series). The two men travel into Kansas & they encounter the vicious Julie Lawry (played by: Shawnee Smith from the Saw franchise, The Blob, Summer School, & Who’s Harry Crumb?). The two men meet Ralph Brentner (played by: Peter Van Norden from The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear, Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment, The Accused, & The Best of Times) along the way & they go to Abagail’s farm in Nebraska. The survivors form a community called the Boulder Free Zone & begin restoring civilization. Flagg sets up an autocratic regime in Las Vegas with the intent of defeating the Boulder survivors using salvaged nuclear weapons. Tom, Dayna Jurgens (played by: Kellie Overbey from That’s Life & Outbreak), & Judge Farris (played by: Ossie Davis from Jungle Fever, Do the Right Thing, Bubba Ho-Tep, & The Client) help take charge against evil. Both factions finally meet up to battle each other in this chaotic war. Who will win this? Is it all over????
The Stand is the definitely the most ambitious television Stephen King miniseries from back in the day. It’s kinda scary because it’s very relevant to the current situation going on right now in the world. It’s still one of the best from the master of horror but I would have loved to see it as the original double feature like they originally planned because it doesn’t hold up as good as I hoped. Stephen King himself worked on the script & it’s a great adaptation from the book but It could have been better in some spots. It has it;s fair share of changes but it works better for this version. Stephen King veteran & Masters of Horror creator Mick Garris is behind the camera for every episode for this epic apocalyptic story. This is his best work as far King material goes, he always knew what to do with the horror author’s work when it came to turning into a film. It starts out very strong & it has a great finale but it drags towards the middle. Some of the episodes & moments feel more like filler than a build up towards everything. Don’t get me wrong, “The Plague”, “The Dreams”, “The Betrayal”, & “The Stand” all have their bright spots but 6 hours is a large amount of time to keep someone fully entertained.
I personally think it does work better if you watch each episode & digest the material a little bit rather than binging the whole thing like I did on this review revisit. As far as television goes, this has some of the best acting performances of all time in it. Gary Sinise, Rob Lowe, Jamey Sheridan, Miguel Ferrer, & Ruby Dee really stand out in this. It has one of the strongest supporting casts of all time when it comes to being a miniseries which includes Ray Walston, Laura San Giacomo, Corin Nemec, Ossie Davis, Matt Frewer, Bill Fagerbakke, Shawnee Smith, & Molly Ringwald. Besides that impressive list, it’s loaded with all kinds of crazy cameos from Kathy Bates, Ed Harris, Sam Anderson, Patrick Kilpatrick, Sherman Howard, Jeff Goldblum, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Stephen King, Mick Garris, Tom Holland, John Landis, Sam Raimi, & Joe Bob Briggs. The visual fx were top notch for their time but a decent amount is outdated now but you can still appreciate what they were going for at the time. The special fx is still great when it comes to something like this. The Stand brings you back to when a movie or miniseries was made for television that it actually just as important as something hitting theaters at the same time. Randall Flagg is one of King’s darkest villains & that alone makes The Stand worth seeking out. Despite it’s flaws, it’s still a high quality production with lots of replay value within those 6 hours. It’s kinda a time capsule from when it was made. Take it back to the early 90’s & enjoy this wild ride from Mick Garris. I am looking forward to the remake. RECOMMENDED!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Paramount Pictures! This 1080p (1.33:1) transfer is newly restored from the original camera negative with enhanced visual effects. Let’s be honest, The Stand is never going to look amazing especially considering how it was shot but this blu ray release is a major improvement over the previous DVD release but it’s the television version not the extended cut that was on that home video release so you will have to hold on to that one if you want that cut of The Stand. The Stand doesn’t hold up like others from the same time but I will say that the visual effects look better now then it’s original broadcast. It has a few different audio options which includes English: Dolby Digital 2.0, German: Dolby Digital 2.0, & Spanish: Dolby Digital 2.0 on the blu ray. It sound a little better than the previous DVD but it’s not going to blow your speakers away or anything. It has it’s standout moments here & there for it’s 6 hour run. All of the dialogue is very clean & the music has a nice boost to it. It also has English SDH, German, Spanish, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, & Swedish subtitles. Both video & audio are an upgrade compared to the past but don’t expect reference quality here. This is probably the best it’s ever going to get for The Stand as far as quality goes.
Let’s discuss the special features from Paramount Pictures! It has an older “Audio Commentary” with director Mick Garris & writer Stephen King. They have a few guests pop up every once in awhile like actors Rob Lowe, Ruby Dee, Miguel Ferrer, Jamey Sheridan, & editor Pat McMahon during this 6 hour chat about the epic television production. Stephen King chats about how he came up with the book. He goes through his inspirations for it & what he was going through at the time. Mick Garris talks about how he got the gig & his involvement in the project. They go over changes made from the original source material. They bring up last cast & other actors considered for roles. They point out all the crazy cameos in this. They discuss the visual & special fx. They mention all the locations that they used for The Stand & each important one from the series. They have all kinds of stories about making this. They break down the story & episodes featured here. This is a great inside look into the production of this epic tale from the master of horror Stephen King. It’s full of knowledge & it gives you the history of it all. Honestly, there’s never a dull moment here & that’s amazing considering that this is a 6 hour audio track. “Making Of” is a little over 5 minutes.It has interviews with Stephen King, Mick Garris, Steve Johnson, San Giacomo, Rob Lowe, Molly Ringwald, & others. It has some behind the scenes footage from the shoot. They chat about adapting the epic story into a television event. They talk about Stephen King. They focus on the visual & special fx from it. It’s a quick promotional piece for The Stand. It also has a slipcover. It’s available everywhere right now, CHECK IT OUT!!!!