Directed by Mick Garris
A virulent disease escapes from an American bioweapons lab and wipes out most of humanity in a matter of weeks. Now the remaining humans are drawn to Las Vegas or Boulder Colorado in what will be the final conflict between good and evil.
- Stu Redman – Gary Sinise
- Frannie Goldsmith – Molly Ringwald
- Mother Abagail Freemantle – Ruby Dee
- Judge Richard Farris – Ossie Davis
- Larry Underwood – Adam Storke
- Glen Bateman – Ray Walston
- Nick Andros – Rob Lowe
- Tom Cullen – Bill Fagerbakke
- Ralph Brentner – Peter Van Norden
- Lucy Swann – Bridgit Ryan
- Susan Stern – Cynthia Garris
- Gina McKone – Sarah Schaub
- Dr. George Richardson – Warren Frost
- Dayna Jurgens – Kellie Overbey
- Carl Hough – Tom Holland
- Brad Kitchner – David Kirk Chambers
- Joe – Billy L. Sullivan
- Randall Flagg – Jamey Sheridan
- Nadine Cross – Laura San Giacomo
- Lloyd Henreid – Miguel Ferrer
- Harold Lauder – Corin Nemec
- Trashcan Man – Matt Frewer
- Rat Man – Rick Aviles
- Julie Lawry – Shawnee Smith
- Teddy Weizak – Stephen King
- Russ Dorr – John Landis
- Bobby Terry – Sam Raimi
- Poke Freeman – Richard Lineback
- Rich Moffat – Dan Martin
- Barry Dorgan – Chuck Adamson
- Whitney Horgan – Sam Anderson
- Dr. Herbert Denninger – Max Wright
- Dr. Dietz – Sherman Howard
- The Monster Shouter – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
- Deputy Joe-Bob – John Bloom (aka Joe Bob Briggs)
- Peter Goldsmith – Ken Jenkins
- Dr. Soames – William Newman
- Sheriff Johnny Baker – Troy Evans
- Charlie D. Campion – Ray McKinnon
- Ray Booth – Patrick Kilpatrick
- Bill Hapscomb – Jordan Lund
- Vic Palfrey – Jesse Bennett
- Alice Underwood – Mary Ethel Gregory
- Rae Flowers – Kathy Bates (uncredited)
- Gen. Bill Starkey – Ed Harris (uncredited)
- Corpse Voices – Bill Corso
I approach this review as someone that has only ever watched this miniseries. I know nothing about the book other than it was a big deal among many at my high school. I will only be discussing it based on what made it to the screen and not specific contents of the book.
The villain is always key in any fate of the world story, and Jamey Sheridan is excellent as Randall Flagg. He is darkly funny and charming but there is always a sinister undertone to everything the character says or does. Nice but dangerous. Supposedly he was not the first choice of director Garris or King, but I think he turned in a truly chilling performance. Given the bulk of what I know him from he would not even have been a consideration of mine and I would have been wrong.
The late Miguel Ferrer as Lloyd had perhaps one of the more complex characters. Lloyd started out as just another criminal, but he grew. By the time he arrived in Vegas and the end was coming, he knew his fate if he stayed with Flagg yet stood by his side anyway out of a sense of loyalty since Flagg had saved him and even changed him. I do not think Lloyd at the beginning would have done that. I think he would have cut his losses early.
Laura San Giacomo is mostly good as the damaged Nadine Cross. You feel her conflict when she shows it but there are moments when even the conflict aspect is not evident at all and she seems very gung-ho about the whole thing. I could not tell if they were trying to go for heading towards the inevitable or what. The character only really had focus in the very beginning and the very end of her arc. I understand the midpoint was supposed to be when she was fighting the darkness to be with Larry but they never quite got that to screen.
Corin Nemec as Harold is probably the weakest link among the damned here. He is supposed to be the nerd and the geek, but the character just does not feel authentic as such. I do not think it is the actor but the material he is given to show his nerdiness and how much of a loser he is. It is just things you would use in the early 80s or that the local bully would think of in a cartoonish sense. It was lazy writing. Even if there was studio interference, they did little to come up with something that felt authentic. The only thing he was missing was an “I grok for Spock” t-shirt.
Among the good I think Gary Sinise as Stu Redman was just playing himself. That is something that actors often do. He comes off as a very downhome type much like Stu does. Molly Ringwald was cast as teenage Frannie Goldsmith. Teenage. That is clearly the age range of the character since Frannie and Harold are both stated to be teenagers, yet she was around 26 years old with Nemec being around 23 when this aired, and it showed. I hate when they do that. I swear she had the beginnings of crow’s feet.
Ruby Dee plays Mother Abagail Freemantle. She does shaky old sometimes in her performance. By that I mean where the elderly character has an unexplained slight full body tremor. I thought the makeup and dialogue was more than enough to get the point across. Ruby Dee managed to move beyond it though.
Rob Lowe showed up as Nick Andros which was a shock as his sex tape was still fresh in the public mind. While mute he was great but the dream sequences where he could speak just did not click for me. Bill Fagerbakke in anything other than Coach is always surprising. He did not step too far outside of the Dauber role as Tom Cullen who served as Nick’s best friend. The pairing worked.
Ray Walston as Glen Bateman is the first survivor that we encounter that is not the focus of story at the beginning. The storyline for Larry Underwood (Adam Storke) never really took off in my mind. Once Nadine left Boulder it felt over even though he was part of the finale. He was not given too much to do nor was his music career really alluded to afterwards other than an obligatory guitar across his back on the trip to confront Flagg. Character backstory information failed to inform the narrative in general. You might be forgiven for missing that Glen was a college professor. It comes and goes quickly.
Ossie Davis as Judge Richard Farris went nowhere. Ozzie Davis was a great actor and he shows up as the Judge Farris, but the character has only the contribution of dying. Under orders from Flagg, Farris was supposed to be put on display based on the dialogue but once he is killed that is it. You do not see the body or anything. This was the mid-90s and certain things were forbidden on television but why mention something if it never comes to fruition in any way or form?
And his character did not get developed much so you are not even feeling really bad for him. He just shows up in the second part while they are trying to save some wounded guy to be sent off to pointlessly die. I think this character could have been dropped.
Ed Harris in his uncredited role was a little over the top and he is better than how he was in this film. I remember Kareem Abdul-Jabbar getting promoted heavily as being in this movie and he is in it for a grand total of five minutes and a minute and a half of that is as a corpse.
I do not know anything about the book. I stated that right out. But based on what I saw on the miniseries the story involving Stu had too much of a happy ending. I felt like they purposely avoided a downbeat finale by doing what they did with him.
There were elements of the narrative here that just were. They popped up from nowhere or worse, went nowhere. Judge Farris, as mentioned before, shows up while Stu is trying to save a wounded guy by an indoor pool. The gentleman was shot but the abrupt appearance of three new characters (one quickly becoming a corpse) made the narrative there rough. At another point they decide to send spies to Vegas to get a handle on what Flagg is doing and that contributes to the story how? It gives Stu a miracle save but produces nothing that actually moves the narrative.
We get some notable individuals showing up in small roles here. In cameos we get the poor man’s Alfred Hitchcock (that is a joke because for quite a bit there the man showed up somewhere in his adaptions) Stephen King as Teddy Weizak. Director John Landis shows up among the damned as Russ Dorr along with horror regular (and brother of Ted Raimi) Sam Raimi who plays Bobby Terry. Among the dead Deputy Joe-Bob is played by personality John Bloom (aka Joe Bob Briggs). Kathy Bates was a known commodity having made it big in 1990 with Misery and shows up in an uncredited role as radio personality Rae Flowers. Also uncredited is Ed Harris as bioweapons lab head Gen. Bill Starkey. Not too shabby.
Occasionally the music falters but there is a general musical sense of foreboding and menace throughout the series. And this is a genuine miniseries. This was not an overly long film broken up into two parts. There is a large cast of characters and it happened over several nights. It was an event and billed as such.
This is from the mid-90s and they do a very good job of creating an apocalypse without the CGI technology we have today. It existed but not like today or even five years in the future as demonstrated in the Star Wars prequels. They had to decorate a physical set and even lay fake corpses about to get the look right.
The makeup is good. Mother Abigail is the weakest though I think that is due to lighting that highlighted its fakeness. The burn makeup on Trashcan Man (Matt Frewer) was especially effective though with the general diseased looking genuinely sick.
The Stand is a little cheesy and at moments even dated but overall this miniseries still holds up and manages to be a treat. Despite its flaws it is an entertaining view. The Stand is a classic miniseries that still works today. Set aside some time and watch this genuine event.