STEPHEN KING’S THE STAND. (1994) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

stand nadine stephen king

STEPHEN KING’S THE STAND. (1994) BASED ON THE NOVEL BY STEPHEN KING. DIRECTED BY MICK GARRIS.

STARRING GARY SINISE, MOLLY RINGWALD, JAMEY SHERIDAN, LAURA SAN GIACOMO, RUBY DEE, OSSIE DAVIS, MIGUEL FERRER, CORIN NEMEC, MATT FREWER, ADAM STORKE, RAY WALSTON, BILL FAGERBAKKE, PETER VAN NORDEN, KATHY BATES, ED HARRIS, ROB LOWE, SHAWNEE SMITH, SAM RAIMI AND STEPHEN KING IN HIS TRADITIONAL CAMEO ROLE.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘We are dead and this is hell.’

Nadine Cross, on the occasion of her ‘honeymoon’ with Randall Flagg.

I love a nice long Stephen King mini-series watched in film-format, ie, all at once, and this is probably his longest ever mini-series. It’s a whopping six hours long, making it twice as long as SALEM’S LOT or THE LANGOLIERS, so I felt like I was getting terrific value for money with it.

My viewing of it happily coincided with my cable TV’s deciding to go on the blink for the weekend, so that I had a working telly but no TV programmes. THE STAND kept my mind somewhat off missing STRICTLY COME DANCING and THE X FACTOR live Saturday night show. I said somewhat, lol. Nothing could keep my mind off that sad, sad loss entirely…!

We’ve got to synopsise an epic six hours into a few short sentences, so here goes. We’ll try to keep it as succinct as possible. There are four ninety-minute sections, entitled THE PLAGUE, THE DREAMS, THE BETRAYAL and finally THE STAND, so if you don’t have six hours to spare all at once you can just watch a section at a time.

First of all, we’re dealing with an American Apocalypse here, people. A terrible plague, ironically known as ‘the superflu’ because you start off by coughing and sniffling, is accidentally released from a top-security government containment facility in a little town called Arnette in East Texas.

The plague decimates everyone in America who comes in contact with it. Well, not quite everyone. A small number of people are, for some reason, immune to it. These are the lucky people who’ll eventually be called upon to re-populate the Earth, heh-heh-heh.

The United States gummint tries to isolate them and study them, but it’s not long before the doctors and the gummint officials in the white spacesuits are dead of the plague too, leaving the survivors free to go wherever they damn well please.

The survivors, of whom more exact details in a bit, are all having the same dream, a dream that tells them to go to Nebraska and find an elderly black woman called Mother Abagail Freemantle, who sits on the porch of her little country house playing her guitar and waiting for the ‘chosen ones,’ ie, the survivors, to come to her.

The survivors all make their way to Mother Abagail, who tells them that their real pilgrimage is only just beginning. Can you imagine the groan that Homer Simpson would let out to hear that his hard work was not ending but merely starting? Lol.

Yep, now the survivors have got to travel to Boulder, Colorado, from where they’ll presumably put down roots and from which they’ll make the titular ‘stand’ against the real evil, the Devil’s emissary on Earth, a chap called Randall Flagg.

Flagg’s base is Las Vegas, ironically the Mecca for those who want to spend their filthy lucre on fancy whores and roulette, and any survivors not called by Mother Abagail have made their way to Flagg to join his unholy army of the night .

Randall Flagg is an hilariously brilliant villain. With his long greying locks and his undoubtedly impressive supernatural powers, he looks like how Scottish comedian Billy Connolly might look if he were a country-and-western singer in cowboy boots and a denim jacket.

He has the ability to shapeshift into a crow or a demon at will (the demon make-up is great, by the way), and his real strength lies in knowing the weaknesses and secret desires of his enemies, even better than they know them themselves.

If Flagg and his minions (former convict Lloyd Henreid, escaped mental patient Trashcan; madcap and immensely volatile slut Julie Lawry, it’s a good group!) ever get to rule the world, it’ll end up being one big crap-table and a monument to the unholy Mammon. Four of Mother Abagail’s disciples set out from Boulder, Colorado to make their final ‘stand’ against the evil of Randall Flagg.

They are Stuart Redman, the only surviving occupant of the town of Arnette in East Texas; Larry Underwood, a singer with huge gambling debts whose career was just about to take off when the plague took hold (that is some bitchin’ luck, isn’t it? On the one hand, his singing career is dead in the water but, on the plus side, his debts are all automatically wiped out because his creditors are all dead of the plague!); a sweet and deeply patriotic retired college professor called Glen Bateman (and his mutt, Kojak!) and a lovely cuddly fella in a checked shirt and jeans called Ralph Brentner.

Stuart is a regular Joe Soap who finds his inner ‘leader’ when the plague hits town. The survivors look to Stuart to lead them out of the mess they’re in and, by golly, he gives it his best shot, when he’s not knocking up Molly Ringwald’s wide-mouthed Frannie, another survivor, that is, and stealing her away from the man who’s loved her his whole life, one Harold Lauder.

Harold is a touchy character, very sensitive, a poet-nerd suffering from unrequited love of the big-toothed Frannie. Frannie’s defection to Camp Stuart and her subsequent pregnancy wounds Harold deeply and makes him an ideal target for Randall Flagg, who sends his own fancy whore-wife Nadine Cross to seduce Harold and bring him over to the Dark Side.

Nadine, who’s also had relations with Larry Underwood but fails to convert him to Flagg’s evil cause because Larry’s now married to and in love with fellow survivor Lucy, is possibly the most interesting character in the movie next to Flagg himself.

She’s played by Laura San Giacomo (PRETTY WOMAN, SEX LIES AND VIDEOTAPE), an extraordinarily beautiful woman whom I personally could look at and listen to all day, she’s so striking-looking.

When she’s brutally raped by a demonic Flagg on their so-called ‘wedding night,’ a travesty of a genuinely lovely and happy wedding night, she loses her mind altogether, proving that she’s not entirely evil and not wholly on board with Flagg’s evil plans for world domination.

The rape scene and its disturbing aftermath, when we see how traumatised Nadine is and how white her hair has become as a result of it, is really quite shocking. On the plus side, however, Nadine’s lovely boobies stand straight up in their Wonderbra when she’s in a lying-down position and they look absolutely marvellous. If they’re fake, which I’m not entirely sure of, then the plastic surgeon has done a most commendable job.

Rob Lowe, an actor I’ve never really cared for, plays a deaf-mute survivor called Nick Andros. Nick Andros is only really interesting from the point of view that he discovers poor ‘retarded’ Tom Cullen, who later turns out to be quite the hero of the piece, living alone in his small town as the sole survivor of the plague.

Nick finds Tom re-arranging the local store mannequins into little tableaux on the village square, through which no traffic ever runs any more. Everyone who used to drive through the now-deserted town is long-dead. It’s really quite creepy, what he’s done with them there mannequins…!

Anyway, I loved THE STAND. It’s six good hours of pure enjoyable entertainment, and Stephen King himself makes his trademark cameo as one of the ‘chosen ones.’ He looks really well in jeans and a jacket and he has quite a few lines and appearances in this one as well.

There’s a good soundtrack that includes songs from ZZ TOP (Sharp-Dressed Man), Crowded House (Don’t Dream It’s Over) and Blue Oyster Cult (Don’t Fear The Reaper, what else?). 

The make-up for the plague victims is positively top-notch and it’s really freaky when the survivors go into the church to clean up the bodies and they see all these hideous corpses sitting silently there. Traditionally, people turn to God when an Apocalyptic event such as the plague occurs, we’re told, and we can well believe it, too.

Kathy Bates has a cameo role as a radio talk-show host whom the Marines have to shut down and Ed Harris (STEPMOM) as an Army Major who can’t stand the heat when the ‘superflu’ looks to be cutting an unstoppable swathe through the rapidly dwindling American populace.

Some of the scenes are really emotional, too. When the survivors are in the town hall of their new home singing the American National Anthem with such pathos, I actually really wanted to stand up and sing right along with them, with my hand on my heart and the tears streaming down my face. I’ve never in my life felt so American, despite the fact that I’m one million per cent Irish, lol. ‘Oh, say can you see…?’ 

I must say that the survivors have a nice cushy number in some ways. Was your pre-plague house a rubbishy crap-shack, or maybe you were paying through the nose to rent some dump that wasn’t big enough to swing a cat in? No problemo. Just take your pick of the fabulous now-empty houses whose owners have all died of the plague, no questions asked. And no pesky mortgages either…!

Tired of your old pre-plague husband or wife? Just get yourself a brand-new one from amongst the survivors and you’re right as rain. This new post-Apocalyptic America has its advantages. Larry Underwood rid himself of his debts and Harold Lauder of his disfiguring acne in this Brave New World of theirs. Every plague-cloud has a silver lining…

I have yet to read the really big long book that inspired this cracking mini-series, believe it or not. I might go and look it out now while I’m still on this major Stephen King buzz. The size of it is so impressive, I have a vague notion that, God and Stephen King forgive my terrible blasphemy, I might have been using it as a doorstop in one of the rooms…!

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger, poet and book-and-movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

JAMES CAMERON’S ‘TITANIC.’ (1997) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

titanic poster

JAMES CAMERON’S ‘TITANIC.’ (1997) WRITTEN, PRODUCED AND DIRECTED BY JAMES CAMERON. STARRING KATE WINSLET, LEONARDO DICAPRIO, FRANCES FISHER, BILLY ZANE, BERNARD HILL, KATHY BATES, GLORIA STUART, BILL PAXTON, SUZY AMIS AND DAVID WARNER. CHEESY THEME TUNE PERFORMED BY CELINE DION. MUSIC BY JAMES HORNER.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘If celebrities didn’t want people pawing through their garbage and saying they’re gay, then they shouldn’t have tried to express themselves creatively. Well, at least I’ll always have my crank calls. Old Lady From Titanic, you stink…!’

Homer Simpson of THE SIMPSONS in the episode about the celebrities, starring Kim Basinger, Alec Baldwin and Ron Howard.

I always regret that I didn’t go to see this ‘Nineties blockbuster in the cinema when it was first released, as it must have been spectacular to witness on the big screen. At the time, however, I was fantastically and disastrously embroiled in an affair with a married man that was the blight of my youth and I had, therefore, other things on my mind. Such as his lies. Oh, his terrible, terrible lies!

I love you. He loved me not, gentle readers. I’ll love you till I die. I wish I could set Alanis Morrisette on him, just for that one alone. She feels very strongly about that kind of lie in particular.

My wife and I haven’t slept together for years. What was the new baby called again? I’ll leave my wife for you when the kids are in college. They were toddlers. I’ll never leave you. He left me three fucking times before he left me for good.

Each time hurt worse than the last and made me actually contemplate thinking about considering ending it all, if you get me. Luckily I decided not to bother with all that high drama or I’d never have met you guys.

And so on and so forth, anyway. You don’t need to know how low I sunk. Suffice it to say that it ended. Now let us focus no more on the follies of my youth and concentrate on the big-budget cheese-fest that is TITANIC, the biggest film of the ‘Nineties or maybe even any other decade for that matter.

It’s common practice, of course, to slag it off but I love it and I always have. It’s got gorgeous dresses and fabulous hats, a stunning Kate Winslet, an actress whom I’ve liked in everything I’ve ever seen her in, a broodingly handsome Billy Zane and a plot based on historical fact. The sinking of the TITANIC bit, that is, not the Rose and Jack bit.

The only things I dislike about the film are that song by Celine Dion and the choice of Leonardo DiCaprio as Kate Winslet’s love interest. I’ve never liked the rather baby-faced youth and I did not like him in this. The very thought of being in a position where I would actually choose a life of poverty with this… this child over a life of comfort and luxury as the wife of the rich and gorgeous Billy Zane brings me out in hives, I kid you not.

And I’d much rather settle down to watch TITANIC on December the twenty-sixth than actually going out to brave the shops again like some crazy people do, this time to attempt to exchange the rubbish presents foisted on them by distant relatives and friends for slightly better stuff.

It’s true I neither want nor need a dozen gift-sets of the same foot-care cosmetics I didn’t want last year but what the hey. I’ll simply re-gift ’em next year and on Saint Stephen’s Day, otherwise known as Boxing Day, I’ll stay in with TITANIC and a plate piled high with leftover-turkey sambos and mince pies and wallow in the delicious tragedy of it all.

Rose DeWitt Bukater, played by English Rose Kate Winslet, is a young woman betrothed to Billy Zane’s super-rich heir to a steel fortune, Caledon Hockley. They are travelling to America with Rose’s uptight Ma and, when the TITANIC reaches its destination, Rose and Cal are to be married.

Ma DeWitt Bukater will be relieved a thousand times over when this happens. Her husband is dead and the family money, as she tells her daughter in no uncertain terms, is all gone. The film does a great, if grim, job of highlighting how precarious a woman’s position was in those days if she didn’t have a rich man to protect her.

Ma and Rose will be set for life if Rose marries Cal but Rose, desperate to escape the confines of the life that her Mother and Cal have laid down so rigidly for her, has been making goo-goo eyes at Leonardo DiCaprio’s Jack Dawson, an impoverished, rootless artist who won his ticket for the Ship Of Dreams in a lucky hand of poker.

Jack, who meets Rose when he saves her from committing suicide by jumping over the side of the ship, is teaching Rose all manner of unsuitable things. How to spit like a man, how to go to a ‘real party,’ how to pose in the nip for a randy artist and how to have sweaty, cherry-popping sex in the back of parked automobiles. Tsk, tsk.

Cal and Mrs. DeWitt Bukater are fit to be tied, they’re so enraged at all of this. And then, on that fateful night in April 1912, the ‘unsinkable’ TITANIC hits the iceberg in the freezing cold North Atlantic Ocean and sails right into the history books as one of the biggest disasters in maritime history…

The film portrays the sinking magnificently, in my humble opinion. We see first the disbelief of the passengers, who’ve been assured that ‘God himself could not sink this ship.’ We see the band playing ‘music to drown by’ and the first-class passengers dressing in their finest clothes as they prepare, chillingly, ‘to go down like gentlemen.’ They still don’t really believe that they’ll be required to, though.

Then there’s the absolute chaos as the ship starts to go under and the passengers scramble madly for the wholly insufficient number of life-boats. Then there’s the terrifying splitting in half of the gigantic ship and the deaths by drowning and deaths caused by the knife-sharp cold.

There’s the much-parodied scene as Rose lies comfortably on a nice big door in the ocean while Jack, ever the good little steerage passenger, freezes his balls off in the bitterly cold water. ‘There was room on that raft for the two of youse!’ goes a certain Irish commercial for, I think, Maltesers or something. Well said, that man, whoever he was.

The story is book-ended at both ends with the modern-day story of the late Bill Paxton’s really cute treasure-hunter trying to find a fabulous necklace called The Heart Of The Ocean on the wreck of the sunken ship. The now one-hundred-and-one-year-old Rose is ‘helping’ him although, as the viewers see, ‘a woman’s heart is a deep ocean of secrets’ and she’s pulling the wool over his eyes a little bit, the ancient hussy.

There are so many iconic scenes to remember fondly when the ship sinks. Here are some of mine. The millions of plates falling off their shelves and into the water. The old man and woman huddled tightly together on their bed, determined to die together. The shell-shocked Captain when the water explodes in on him.

The girl floating dead in the water with her dress billowing out around her, filmed from below. Very artistic, is that. It could even be a painting. The ship’s officer shooting himself after he realises he’s killed someone while trying to keep order amidst the chaos.

The rich guy in his dinner jacket sitting there in shock as the water dares to breach the upper echelons of first class. Dreadfully vulgar, the mighty ocean, dontcha know. Must be from the Chippewa Falls ocean, that would explain its appalling lack of good taste…!

Ioan Gruffudd shouting ‘Is there anyone alive out there?’ as he trawls the icy waters for survivors with his little whistle. Rose in the rain on the Carpathia the day after the sinking realising that she has The Heart Of The Ocean in her pocket. After she’s had, like, the entire fucking ocean underneath her when she was on that floating bit of coffin, lol.

I simply adore Rose’s gorgeous red ‘committing suicide’ dress and dinky little shoes. I also love all the scenes that show the lower decks of the ship filling with water first. Those are all top-notch depictions and I honestly don’t see how anyone could have done them better.

I love this film and I watch it every Christmas without fail. I won’t hear a word said against it, not unless you’re bitching about the awful song, lol. Happy New Year now, y’all. Have a good one. And remember to keep a sharp eye out for Celine Dion, as far as I know she’s still alive and could still be singing…!

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor