DOASKDOTELL MOVIE REVIEWs of  Rose Red and Storm of the Century (and Kingdom Hospital), The Stand , The Langoliers, Desperation, The Shining, The Dark Half, The Mist, Children of the Corn


Title: Rose Red; (Storm of the Century below)

Release Date:  2002

Nationality and Language: USA, English

Running time: about  300 minutes, 6 segments

MPAA Rating:  PG-13  (TV-14)  some violent images and strong language

Distributor and Production Company:  Touchstone/ABC Circle Films

Director; Writer: Crig Baxley

Producer:  Stephen King

Cast:   Nancy Travis, MattKesslar, Kimberly Brown, David Dukes, Judith Ivey, Melanie Lynsky, Matt Ross, Julian Sands, Kevin Tighe

Technical:  made for TV; video

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Stephen King’s Rose Red is a second gothic novel miniseries, in the spirit of the earlier Storm of the Century (below). The setup involves a rather self-centered psychology professor who risks her tenure to camp out in a gothic mansion, Rose Red, to discover and publish “the truth” about the paranormal (and become famous for life). Well, the paranormal does “exist,” and it takes a lot out of everyone who visits. It kind of encapsulates the women, kills some of the men, and turns people into vampires, the “undead,” ghosts, or whatever. (Remember Peter Straub’s Ghost Story.) Are some houses just “born bad”? An autistic child helps unmask the secret.


The perspective of the house in downtown Seattle looks a bit overdone, and kind of like a kid’s drawing. Well, it’s not producing revenue, and it will be torn down for condos.


The film seems claustrophobic and choppy, without the narrative hook and mystery of King’s earlier “Perfect Storm.”

Movie Review; Storm of the Century (1999); ABC Films (for TV, 3 epidodes, 288 minutes); Screenplay by Stephen King (published by Pocket Books); TV-14 (PG-13); 8.5/10

            Well, folks, what is Stephen King up to? Upstaging a youthful Sebastian Junger's book The Perfect Storm? One week after airing this show, Cape Cod. Mass. really did have a February "Storm of the Century," after a record La Nina mild winter. Of course, there were other such storms, such as in March 1993 and January 1996.

            Colm Feore plays an extremely effective, peripatetic villain, something like the Stieb character from Clive Barker's novel Sacrament. At his williest, he is like a kid who's got the gimme's.

            Over and over, smeared in blood on latrine walls, and computer screens in the Little Tall Island lighthouse, is the ultimate slogan:


            Scout's honor!! Imagine this coming from a Java applet in a computer class demonstrating computer winsocket connectivity. It's happened!

            King teaches us by repetition. "Hell is repetition."

            And has anybody ever told you to just "go away," or you'll be seen as creepy and maybe as attempting sexual harassment? That's happened to me.

            And what does He want? Well, it reminds me of Ira Levin's Rosemary's Baby. Is God dead? Would "unbelieving" grownups give one of their children to the Devil to save themselves?

            The history lesson about Roanaoke Island, N.C. is interesting. A whole colony really did disappear around 1585. Therefore, U.S. History as usually taught began at Jamestown, Va. In 1607. Not too far from Williamsburg, where I would have my personal debacle.

            As for the ending, I would have preferred that a Nor-easter tidal wave wash away Little Tall Island and all its sinful residents. Furthermore, a tidal wave would have melted all the snow at once. There's nothing so unaesthetic as rain on the snow, but that would make another horror novel.


The Stand (1995, Republic Pictures/ABC, dir. Mick Garris, 366 min, PG-13, TV series) is a TV series of Stephen King’s mammoth novel about the effects of a super-flu, which seems particularly appropriate today given concerns about SARS and now avian flu. The book first came out in 1978 as an 850 page “novel of ultimate horror” but grew to 1200 pages in the 1991 revision, that took into consideration the 1980s AIDS epidemic. The survivors wander a wasteland, with the good people like Stu Redman (Gary Sinese) winding up in Boulder, CO and forming a constitution, and the bad people (Randall Flagg, the Walkin’ Dude (Jamies Sheridan) in Cibola – Las Vegas. Poor Tim Cullen (Bill Fagerbakke) makes the harrowing journey on I-15, and Matt Frewer is the firebug Trashcan Man.


The Langoliers (1995, Artisan, dir. Tom Holland, 180 min) was aired as a two-part TV series, a creepy thriller about a West-to-East coast-to-coast plane ride that enters into a time warp and most people disappear. It seems that the plane fell behind “time” in some kind of astronomical anomaly. The plane arrives at Bangor, ME and finds it deserted. Electric power towers fall down as the Langoliers approach. They seem to be eggshells with jaws that eat people up. The Langoliers clean up the people who fail in life and who miss the boat. On the return, people come back.  


On March 3, 2004, ABC Films premiered Kingdom Hospital with a 2-hour movie, about a hospital haunted with ghosts from a burned down Reconstruction era mill that had burned child labor victims. The wit in the film seemed lightweight, but the animals were funny (the Raven, the Anteater, and the dog who says he is just a dog.


Desperation (2006, ABC/Touchstone, dir. Micj Garris, about 150 min, PG-13) has a rogue sheriff Collie Entragian (Ron Perlman) ambushing visitors in the desert (often planting pot) and bringing them to die in the town of Desperation, NV. He changes form into various entities, embodiments of some escaped spirit (at one point a cougar). There is a writer on a motorcycle, a likeable couple, a boy who lathers himself in an attempt to escape from wild dogs. Later on the boy David (Shane Haboucha) finds a silent film of a mine disaster that explains the origin of the “entity.” The writer John Marinville (Tom Skerritt) has some skeletons in his own closet, as when he was the only survivor of a bar fire. He must atone for his karma in a final scene in the mine (rather resuming a Mayan ruin anticipating Apocalypto), where he saves the world, sacrificing himself in a mushroom cloud. Along the way, arms and faces roll – “check it out.”


The Shining (1980, Warner Bros., dir. Stanley Kubrick, 119 min, R) is one of Stephen King’s most famous film adaptations. Jack Nicholson plays Jack Torrance, who takes a job caretaking an old hotel for the winter and holes up with his family. His son starts to find the demons. Remember the bloody bathtub scenes, and the wonderful maze.


The Dark Half (1993, Orion / MGM, dir. George A. Romero, novel by Stephen King, 202 min). This novel and movie explore the hazards of “fiction” purporting to predict life. The setup is based on a well-known medical “fact”—that many babies start out as twins, and only the stronger survives. Thaddeus Beaumont, as a boy, had a brain “tumor” that turned out to be the beginnings of his twin fetus. As an adult, he is a successful horror novelist, like King himself, and college English professor, who tells his students that novelists can live out their most dangerous fantasies perfectly harmlessly. One day someone threatens to expose his pseudonym, “George Stark”. Thad tries to bury Stark in a mock grave, and a photographer witnesses the event. The photographer is murdered. Soon there is a string of other murders based on murders in Stark’s books, and the police suspect Thad.  The idea that a psycho (the blackmailer, perhaps) would try to frame him is itself quite disturbing, but most enter the mind of any horror novelist. An early scene shows middle school Thad getting a typewriter so he can write his stories – 1968 home technology. As an adult, Stark writes with paper and pencil. PC’s were well in operation with word processors by 1993.  The ending pays tribute to Hitchcock’s “The Birds” and is less funny. Anyone notice that “Stark” is the Marvel comic book hero Iron Man? 


Children of the Corn (1984, New World, dir. Fritz Kiersch), based on King’s short story, has the horrific premise of children being goaded to murder all the grownups by a boy preacher. The film created a franchise of six films up through 1998. There is a lot of symbolism related to Mayan and other agricultural society sacrifices; compare to Thomas Tryon’s Harvest Home. 


The Mist (2007, MGM / Dimension, dir. Frank Darabont, novella by Stephen King, 127 min, R) A number of people get trapped in a supermarket as a mist rolls in after a storm, and monsters come out the mist and attack them. One scene where a clerk is undone by a clutching tentacle is particularly graphic, and as time goes on more victims lose their skin, as they harvest the larvae of huge arthropods. There is a woman of faith who sees this as God’s reckoning. Finally, of course, we get a hint that this is a government experiment gone terribly wrong. This is a bit like a remake of “Them!” 


Related reviews: Book: Kalla’s Pandemic films   Misery  1408   Iron Man   The Birds


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