The Stand: The Original Mini-Series (1994) – Bluray Review

Feeble minded, laws yes. 2.5 Stars

In the aftermath of a global flu pandemic called Captain Trips, the forces of good and evil square off to battle for the future of mankind. Those for good are called to follow Mother Abigail (Ruby Dee) a 106 year old blind woman in Nebraska and Colorado. Those on the other side follow “the Walkin’ Dude” Randall Flagg (Jamie Sheridan) to Las Vegas. Neither side is perfect, with washed up rockstar Larry Underwood (Adam Storke), deaf mute Nick (Rob Lowe), aging arthritic Glenn (Ray Walston) simple Tom Cullen (Bill Fagerbakke) and witness to the breakout of the virus Stu (Gary Sinise) on Abigail’s side and pyro Trashcan Man (Matt Frewer), psychopath Lloyd (Miguel Ferrar) and sexpot Nadine (Laura San Giacomo) on Flagg’s. With the players assembled on the chessboard, what will be the result of the final stand?


The Stand (1994)
Released: 08 May 1994
Rated: Not Rated
Runtime: 361 min
Director: N/A
Genre: Adventure, Drama, Fantasy, Horror, Sci-Fi
Cast: Gary Sinise, Molly Ringwald, Jamey Sheridan, Laura San Giacomo
Writer(s): N/A
Plot: After a deadly plague kills most of the world's population, the remaining survivors split into two groups - one led by a benevolent elder and the other by a maleficent being - to face each other in a final battle between good and evil.
IMDB rating: 7.2
MetaScore: N/A

Disc Information
Studio: Paramount
Distributed By: CBS
Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audio: English 2.0 DD, Other
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French, Other
Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 5 Hr. 59 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray
Case Type: Keep Case
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Region: A
Release Date: 9/24/2019
MSRP: $29.99

The Production: 4/5

It’s a tough thing to have to turn the greatest book ever written (according to me, anyway) into a TV miniseries, and we’re expecting a new version out in 2020, with multiple failed attempts in between. The thing that King is supremely adept at is breaking characters down to their core essence, and in The Stand he did that with humanity itself, picking out a set of archetypes to represent us, good and bad. It makes for a compelling story, but translating it without seeming hokey has proved challenging. This first version, released in 1994, was fairly faithful to the book, for good and bad. It came at least as close as mid 90s TV effects and standards & practices would allow. We’re a lot further down the road into much more successful book translations across Cable TV and movies today, so fingers crossed.

With an all star cast assembled and King himself writing the teleplay and producing, it seemed like a can’t lose proposition. What we saw didn’t exactly match the promise, but was accepted as a decent but not great miniseries. I’s been 30 years since I watched the broadcast premiere on a 25″ standard def interlaced TV, but I remember being kind of meh over the whole thing, despite it being hyped up beyond belief. Watching again today I think I can appreciate it more, and feel that it captures the spirit of the book better than I remember.

What seems to hold it all back is the blandness, the banality of the assembled armies. The forces of good just seem generically positive while those on Flagg’s side seem to be slotted into ridiculous baaadness. The thing I found most disappointing was that for all the talk of man being in charge of his own destiny, in the end the ultimate Deus seems to pull off a major ex machina on our behalf. At least the whole thing goes off with a bang =)

Video: 2/5

3D Rating: NA

What must have looked pretty damn good on broadcast TV in 1994 looks like a total mess in the age of 4k. Worse, this Bluray boasts on its cover that it has been ‘Brilliantly restored’, which seems to add insult to injury. Per our friends at HDDN the film was shot on 16mm and not 35, and it shows. This Bluray is a mass of blocks caused by the low res original scanned at 1080p, and shown uprezzed on a 4k OLED it looked even worse to me. The softness of hair and faces is particularly distracting, and the noise in dark scenes compounds this badly.

The restoration seems to be mostly a dirt and scratch pass, and I’ll give credit for that, it looks cleaned up nicely. Perhaps some of the effects have been uprezzed a bit too, I noted added detail in the gas field explosion but not much about the finale seemed to have been touched.

Overall, I wouldn’t get too excited to see any more detail than the DVDs before it have had.

Audio: 2/5

Stereo with some effects reaching into the rears. The original score is OK I guess, but I couldn’t tell you any specific tracks that stood out.

Special Features: 2/5

A feature length audio commentary with King and a Making of featurette (low res standard def and 5:29 long) are all you’ll find here. Both available on previous releases.

Overall: 2.5/5

Ultimately the addition of somewhat overblown restorative efforts don’t quite add up to much here, other than fitting it all onto a single disk. If anything, seeing this again has given me hope that a well produced version with effects that can bring the horror up a notch await in 2020. Until then we’ll always have the 1000 page book to revisit if we want to experience everything that King wanted us to in this greatest showdown possible.

B07TMRSP6L

Published by

Sam Posten

editor,member

22 Comments

  1. And I still think the lack of the Edge Enhancement on this as compared to the DVD makes this upgrade advisable but you shouldn’t expect to be blown away by the quality.

  2. Mark_TB

    Thanks for the review! Just saved me some money, I'll stick with my DVD.

    Also, what was the 2nd adaptation?

    I think Sam was wrong there. Pretty sure this new one next year will be the 2nd adaption

  3. Sam Posten

    Yeah I had it in my head that a second (flop) adaptation had been made. Sorry bout that! Will fix it.

    Several attempts were made, with a lot filmed, I think, but after something like ten years of trying, it never was completed.

  4. I share your love for this book, Sam–it, along with The Dark Tower series, are my favorites of King's works.

    What they both have in common is that they need to be told onscreen in long, episodic style series, with a major focus on character development and motivations. These aren't "action" books, though they do contain some action. I felt the same about The Lord of the Rings, which is why, as awe-inspiring of a spectacle as Peter Jackson's films were (and I own all the versions, including the EEs), I still don't feel that he truly captured the essence of those books. He made great films…but in my opinion they were not great adaptations in terms of faithfulness to the tone and spirit of the original novel. Tolkien abhorred war and spent relatively few pages (as a percentage of the overall size of the book) covering and describing battles, choosing to spend more time with the characters and their stories, as well as the overall lore of Middle Earth. The movies essentially flip that ratio, spending a lot of time in action/battle sequences, using the more quiet moments as transitions to get to the next battle sequence.

    Which is my way of saying, I hope the new adaptation of The Stand is shot more "Game of Thrones" style. Take time to develop the characters. Show their motivations. Even the "Trashcan Man", as malignant a character as he is, has some understandable (if not sympathetic) reasons for doing what he does.

    I'm also hopeful that they'll tackle The Dark Tower novels in the same way, and let's just forget that the film was ever made.

  5. Never owned the DVD, and found the bluray to be okay, just one issue. When I stopped the movie, upon restarting the disc, the CBS logo appears and then I had a blank, black screen. I had to open-close the disc tray to get the movie to take me to the menu where I was then asked "Resume Yes/No?"

    Glad to have the series, just wonder why it had to be on a single disc. I would have paid more gladly. I feel this is one of the better King adaptations of his monumental work.

  6. After watching the first chapter on Blu-ray, I popped in the old DVD just to compare, and even though the Blu-ray (maybe just by virtue of the source material) isn't of astounding quality, I thought it was a huge step up compared to the DVD.

  7. FrankPitt

    After watching the first chapter on Blu-ray, I popped in the old DVD just to compare, and even though the Blu-ray (maybe just by virtue of the source material) isn't of astounding quality, I thought it was a huge step up compared to the DVD.

    Indeed — I think everyone has forgotten just how bad the DVDs were. Abomination is being kind and I'd say barely VHS EP quality

  8. darkrock17

    On the back cover it says that it's been edited and music has been replaced. Has Don't Fear The Reaper been cut for this release?

    I'll be on the lookout for more information on this but I don't have any specifics at this time.

    I have no doubt the bluray is an upgrade over the DVD. I do question if there is enough value in those improvements to warrant a repurchase. As much as I love the source book I personally would not upgrade if I had the original DVDs. You'll all have to make that call on your own. Personally I'd be more frustrated that the improvements don't go far enough than thankful over those that did show.

    Anyone know if this version has been released on CBS All Access? I refuse to pay for CBS (or Hulu or NBC) so no clue here.

  9. FrankPitt

    After watching the first chapter on Blu-ray, I popped in the old DVD just to compare, and even though the Blu-ray (maybe just by virtue of the source material) isn't of astounding quality, I thought it was a huge step up compared to the DVD.

    That is why I have been continuously saying that this Blu-Ray is a big upgrade, because the existing DVD sucked.

  10. This is one of my all time favorites so I would love to see it properly rendered. I currently own the DVD’s but will be looking out for the 202 release you mentioned.

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