The Cutting Room: The Stand

thestanduncutcoverWelcome to The Cutting Room, This Is Horror’s new column that takes a look at upcoming films to die for. Every week we’ll  highlight one or two upcoming attractions heading to a screen near you (big or small) and what better way to kick off than with a forthcoming frightener from the master of horror himself, the one and only Stephen King.

The Stand

Originally published in 1978, and then in an expanded edition in 1990, King’s post-apocalyptic novel has become one of his most celebrated works and is certainly one of our favourites. After a deadly virus called Captain Trips wipes out 99.4% of the planet’s population, the survivors gather in two ideologically opposite camps, literally good and evil, to determine who will inherit the earth. Of course it’s not quite that simple and the novel, as with many of King’s greatest works, is a beautifully interwoven tapestry of characters that’s more about the journey itself than the destination. That said, King does deliver a satisfying conclusion that resonates long after the last page has been turned.

Why we’re looking forward to this: There have been several attempts to bring The Stand to the big screen, notably with zombie king George A Romero at the helm, but it looks as though director Josh Boone (The Fault In Our Stars) might finally be the man to make it happen.

Now we’re among those people who actually liked Mick Garris’ 1994 television version and thought it managed to be reasonably faithful in spite of the restrictions placed on it by airing on ABC, but it lacked a certain bite and the ending was, well, a bit rubbish really. Thankfully Boone recently stated his intention to put this right by delivering a three-hour R-rated version that will hopefully do the book justice.

To paraphrase Harry Callaghan, we know what you’re thinking. Condensing the entire book into one-hundred and eighty minutes seems a bit ambitious. However, if you need convincing that it can be done without sacrificing the integrity of the novel then we recommend you track down Rospo Pallenberg’s treatment for the aborted Romero version which is very good indeed (and out there on the internet if you ask your friend Google nicely).

We do have a couple of concerns, though not major ones. The first that this is essentially another remake. However, for every lame Prom Night and When A Stranger Calls there’s the genius of John Carpenter’s The Thing and David Cronenberg’s The Fly. The other concerns the as yet unknown cast, because having watched Garris’ version several times, we simply can’t imagine anybody but the late Ruby Dee playing Mother Abigail, Matt Frewer raising hell as Trashcan Man or Bill Fagerbakke bringing sympathy and strength to Tom Cullen. The flipside, of course, is that Jamie Sheridan, fine actor that he is, was completely wrong for Randall Flagg, so there’s definitely room for improvement.

That said, we have a good feeling about this one and think that if Boone remains true to his vision and manages to bring the promised but as yet undisclosed A-list cast on board then his version of The Stand could be the one that King fans, ourselves very much included, have been waiting for.

The Stand is currently in development but rest assured we’ll be following this one closely.


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