The Langoliers

Anguish

This is what I was doing the entire time I was re-watching this. 

OMG. I can’t even believe I watched this. Again. I guess I felt like I had to pick a terrible King adaptation for movie #2 since I started with one I genuinely enjoy.

I haven’t watched The Langoliers since its debut on television in 1995, for many, many, many good reasons. I’m not sure what possessed the powers that be to create a two-part TV miniseries out of a short novella (which by the way, was just fine reading), but that they did … and very badly.

Cheap production values, laughable dialog (Oh, Tom Holland. Sometimes you work! And sometimes … you don’t. And you don’t here.), and the most insanely terrible special F/X you’ve ever seen are just some of the highlights that I remembered, but there’s so much more to hate about this one it’s almost enough to fill an entire month full of blog entries. BUT I will try to just stick to one.

Double What

“WHY are you watching this? No, seriously. Why?”

So 9 people get on a redeye to Boston, they all nap during the flight, and when they wake up, EVERYONE except them is gone. Poof! Just like that. Even weirder, all their stuff is still there, including the jewelry they were wearing and creepy things like wigs and teeth bridges and stuff. Ew, gross.

So you’ve got an unhinged broker who’s severely damaged by childhood abuse — and whose father used to tell him about “The Langoliers” eating lazy people or something — played by Bronson Pinchot, a blind girl with powers that let her “see” through other people’s eyes, a mild-mannered schoolteacher trying to have an adventure!, a sad sack pilot on his way to settle his recently departed ex-wife’s affairs (HI DAVID MORSE), a mystery writer who is the only one who is able to “deduce” what’s going on played by Dean Stockwell, a quirky teen who may or may not have a drug addiction problem, a British secret agent who says “mate” every 5 minutes, a nerdy violinist, a ex-military guy, and an middle-aged guy who’s only defining trait is his obsession with food.

David Morses Face

David Morse’s actual face when he sees that The Langoliers are coming. 

Sounds AMAZING, right? But where did all the people go? Oh, they were eaten by actual “Langoliers”, which in the book is explained a lot better than it is here … which is to say not really at all. But somewhere in-between Dean Stockwell calling the violinist “dear boy” and arching his eyebrows, he does say that these things are responsible for “eating up time” or whatever, and that while they were sleeping on the plane they slipped through a wormhole and time-traveled and something …. zzZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzz.

Like I said, it just works better in the book.

And then, the actual THINGS show up. The Langoliers. And I can’t. I just. I mean, to be fair, they are rendered almost exactly the way King describes them in his book but holyfuckingodtheyaresostupid. SO STUPID. I mean, look. Look at them.

Langoliers and Bronson

And the close-up:

Langoliers Closeup

Guys? I don’t even know what happened here. I know technology could not have been that bad in 1995. Right? It just. COULD NOT HAVE BEEN.

But so, even if you’ve made it through all the bad dialog and ridiculous explanations of what’s happening, and god forbid, you’re somewhat invested in these characters — I don’t know how you could be, but let’s just take a leap of faith and say you are, once these things show up there is absolutely no way you could do anything by laugh. And it’s sadly not even hilarious enough of a film as a whole that you can treat it as a fun movie. It’s just AWFUL. AWFUL AWFUL AWFUL.

And to add insult to injury, they end the film on this:

FreezeFrame

YAYYYYYYYYYY FREEZE. FRAME.

And then the credits roll.

Just … please. Do yourself a favor and skip this one. Unnnnnnggggggh.

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3 Comments

  1. ratzkywatzky

     /  October 5, 2013

    Ha! I’d forgotten the sports movie freeze frame!
    And yep, those are Stephen King’s langoliers, all right. That’s the problem with so many of the adaptations for TV: they do it “right,” but it looks so much more ridiculous than you’d imagined. cf. The Shubbery Animals in The Shining miniseries.
    And still he thinks they’re preferable to the hedge maze.

    Reply
  2. Right! And it’s especially problematic when he works on the screenplay, because he doesn’t realize that it’s near impossible to translate scares like that from the page to the screen. Oh, and also: my friends and I refer to THIS particular freeze frame all the time. It scarred us THAT badly!

    Reply
  3. Stephanie

     /  October 6, 2013

    I love my Uncle Stevie, but when he gets to the real evil, the real bad guy, it just cannot match the buildup, in the books or the movies. He seems to have figured this out, and just skirts around it now. I liken this to the stuffie Cthulhus out there. Once you see The Ultimate Evil, it’s just a thing. Not as scary as Sports Freeze Frame, surely.

    Reply

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