STORM OF THE CENTURY: Kino Brings King’s First Original Series in From the Cold

The Year of King continues with Kino’s unthawing of the Horror legend’s chilly cult classic

Between It: Chapter 2, Doctor Sleep, Pet Sematary, In the Tall Grass, another season of Castle Rock, and the reboot of Creepshow (not to mention everything else to come), it’s safe to say that 2019’s been a hell of a year for Stephen King adaptations. It’s also safe to say that anything King-related is a hot commodity for home video labels — and with Halloween just around the corner, Kino Lorber Studio Classics has struck while the iron is hot with a re-release of King’s first original miniseries, Storm of the Century. Twenty years after its broadcast on ABC, the miniseries has amassed its own small following — and this new release holds the potential to attract a new legion of followers.

Storm of the Century follows the inhabitants of Little Tall Island in the midst of the titular maelstrom, a wintry hellscape that quickly knocks out the power in the small community. That isn’t the worst of their problems, however — that honor would go to Andre Linoge (played by a scene-stealing Colm Feore), a grinning, cane-wielding murderer who asks the townspeople to “give him what he wants, and he’ll go away.” The bulk of the show plays out in the shadow of this mysterious question, as the Islanders are plagued with terrifying dreams, mind-controlled murderous tendencies, and eventually the dread-filled answer to Linoge’s demands.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: a mysterious visitor comes to a sleepy town in Maine where all of the good-hearted townspeople harbor their own dark secrets, and it’s only a matter of time before this stranger draws them all out into the open while the body count steadily rises. Storm of the Century may take more than a few chapters from King’s previous work, but there’s plenty in the series’ four-and-a-half hours that makes for entertaining — and occasionally gripping — Fall and Winter viewing.

The series’ isolated, snowbound setting works wonders for playing up the tension between the populous cast of characters, all of whom get their moment to shine (while each playing into King’s handful of stock characters). Particularly effective is Julianne Nicholson in one of her first TV roles as lovestruck, vengeful Katrina Winters, as well as King mainstay Jeffrey DeMunn as Little Tall Island’s slimy town manager Robbie Beals. While mainly supporting roles, the two characters best exemplify the spectrum of morality that much of the town finds themselves upon as the psychotic psychic powers of Andre Linoge begin to manipulate their behavior — whether you’re good-natured at heart like Katrina, or wholly self-serving like Beals, everyone manages to play into Linoge’s calculated games. Linoge insists that his ultimate gambit is one dictated by free will, but one can’t help but feel his invisible hand stacking the deck against the islanders at every turn.

Which is what makes the experience of watching Storm of the Century such a fun one, despite its usage of well-worn King tropes and characters. As the series progresses, the show takes its own share of unexpectedly dark turns (even for a horror show), pushing these stock characters closer to trolley-car dilemmas that expose how human and humble they really are. Much like The Mist that would be years in the offing, Storm of the Century begins with an apocalyptic event but only reckons with that idea as its characters confront their bitter moral choices. Unlike that particular King story, though, it’s the confirmation that things will return to normal once that choice is made that pushes them to do acts they once held to be unconscionable. It’s a welcome subversion of an end-times tale that forces its characters to eventually be held accountable for the consequences of their actions — even if the world at large would never know what truly happened on their island in the middle of a storm.

Video/Audio: Storm of the Century is presented over two discs in Anamorphic 1.33:1 and a 2.0 audio track, preserving its original TV format. English subtitles are presented only for the main feature. While it’s odd that this miniseries is getting a DVD-only release, image and audio quality are high and consistent — undoubtedly better than what broadcast back in early 1999 could provide.

Special Features:

  • Audio Commentary with Director Craig R. Baxley and Writer Stephen King: The show’s two creative heads engage in a discussion for the full series, ported over from the original DVD release.
  • Needful Things Trailer: Another King adaptation with similar King themes and characters, also available on Blu-ray by Kino Lorber.
  • Show Recaps and Previews: Show lead-ins and trailers from Storm of the Century’s original broadcast.

While aspects of the show haven’t held up since its initial broadcast two decades ago, Storm of the Century is still an enjoyable selection to binge-watch over hot chocolate and your favorite show-watching grub.

Storm of the Century is now available on DVD by Kino Lorber Studio Classics.

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