King of all questions, answers to none…
Ok, I promise you that I’m not actually Stephen King trying to secretly advertise all the film adaptations of my stories. Trust me, I wish I were a genius like Stephen, but alas I’m not. You would be forgiven for thinking this, however, since this is the third time I’ve mentioned him recently. The simple reason is, however, that so much of his horror fiction constituted the soup of fear and suspense that was my movie-gazing childhood. It seems like almost every time I saw a movie that caused me to flinch and cover my eyes with a blanket, King’s name was somewhere on the box.
So this time I’m talking about Storm of the Century, which isn’t a regular film – but instead a three part miniseries. If you decide to watch all three parts together, however, it makes for a 4 hour epic. It’s like three movies with one continuous plot! Three movies? Three? Hallowthreen! Oh my god, what a coincidence, it’s perfect for this year’s Halloween movie marathon!
Trust me, it’s not a bad idea. That is, if you haven’t seen this thing already. Why? It’s creepy as sin!
“A mysterious stranger with a cane arrives in the small town of Little Tall Island, Maine, during the heaviest snow storm in the last 100 years. Everywhere he goes, death follows. He has one clear message “Give me what I want and I’ll go away.”
Simple, perplexing, and very promising. The premise alone is enough to tease you.
Now, I will admit that since this was made for the TV, the effects are not great. Some of the 90’s CGI isn’t even good enough to meet the standards of that time and, as if that wasn’t bad enough, the whole thing is shot in…
For those of you who don’t know what that number means, it’s an aspect ratio. In the days before High-Definition digital television, 4:3 (pronounced “four by three” or “four three”) was the standard format for everything showed on the small screen. Nowadays all television is displayed in 16:9, and most feature films are 2:35:1. Confused at all? Here’s a chart to show you what they look like:
Notice how 4:3 is embarrassingly small, effectively just a square. Some people like it because on an old tube-tv it filled out the screen completely. Great, but the aesthetic qualities you can achieve in terms of framing with just a square are shoddy.
Ok, enough film school, this movie is creepy – plain and simple. From the very first frame it’ll make you curl your toes. There’s a greyish blue hue colour graded into the film that helps the atmosphere tremendously. All throughout, the dialogue is riddled with little poems and childhood nursery rhymes which all take on an extra menacing quality when juxtaposed with the calculated violence we see on screen.
As usual I’m trying to avoid all spoilers, so I won’t tell you more beyond the initial concept. I can tell you, though, that the story ends up going in some pretty outrageous directions.
Thematically it centres on the concept of community and the underlying secrets it keeps buried under its skin. The stranger represents the storm itself; a threat that faces the entire village as one, and that they must solve by standing together on a single principle.
After you’ve watched this, snowstorms may not have quite the same Christmasy charm to them that they used to.
But we’re not three days away from Christmas, we’re three days away from Halloween! In keeping with that I figured I’d throw in another Stephen King adapted TV movie just for the hell of it…
I know exactly what you’re thinking. First you’re thinking “how do I pronounce that?”, then “ooo, ghosts on a plane?”
The pronunciation of Langoliers is “Lango-lee-ers”. As opposed to “Lan-go-leers”. Maybe you don’t care how it’s pronounced, but it actually troubled me for some time. One of the best things about watching it was finally getting to hear the actors say the title.
What? I’m not an obsessive nerd or anything…right?
The second and more important question can be answered with a resounding “No! This is not a ghost movie”. It’s not a movie about anything supernatural. There are no crazy killers, murder mysteries, scientific experiments gone awry, possessions, or monsters. There are just…The Langoliers.
“On a red eye flight to Boston from LA 10 people wake up to a shock. All the passengers and crew have vanished. When they try to contact the ground there is no response.”
Interesting, but what are the Langoliers? I know you’re gagging to find out. Now, a lame person would just google it or look it up on wikipedia. Sure, you could do that, but why ruin the suspense? Instead, track down a copy of The Langoliers and actually watch it! The answer, I suspect, will completely surprise you. Maybe you’ll think it’s stupid, or maybe it’ll impress you with its sheer radial brilliance.
If the VFX in Storm of the Century makes you roll your eyes, the “ye olde computer graphics” in this film will force your pupils to look straight into your brain. It’s embaressing how little effort has been put into the CGI in this movie. Remember TRON from 1982? TRON looks like Avatar compared to this. I know that’s not a ringing endorsement, I’m just trying to give you the straight truth.
But it doesn’t matter, because the story holds up. It’s not scary scary, but it’s unsettling and twisted in a number of different ways, reminding me very much of a Twilight Zone episode.
Since The Langoliers is a 3 hour two-parter, you now have 7 hours of Stephen King short story movie macabre to choose between and enjoy on your night-of-frights. 3 days to go!