Let me be straight here. I consider myself as a casual Stephen King’s fan. Not a big fan but a casual one. Some friends of mine from the states have a huge collection of King’s books. I do have myself an incredible collection of books, but some of them are written by Stephen King. Actually, the first book I stumbled upon was Christine, which was adapted into motion picture by Halloween’s legend John Carpenter. I’ve also read The Running Man which was also adapted into a motion picture in 1987 and written by Steven E. DeSouza. And of course, The Lawnmower Man, another movie adaption from King that starred the then the relatively unknown Pierce Brosnan (before the James Bond’s Fame and Forture).
I almost forgot IT by Tommy Wallace that starred Stage legend Tim Curry. That poor little George getting his hand ripped off at the beginning of the novel.
All the movies adapted I cited above were well received by the critics, especially The Running Man.
However, this article focuses on one particular TV movie I used to watch back in the 90s. It’s called The Langoliers. Released in 1995 and it was adapted from King’s Four Past Midnight. A collection of horror novellas.
On a red-eye flight from Los Angeles to Boston, a commercial Boeing 767 goes through a time rift. Minutes later, ten passengers discover that the crew and the fellow passengers have disappeared, leaving the Seven Sixty Seven cruising on autopilot. Brian Engle, an off-duty pilot who is heading to his ex-wife funeral, takes control of the plane and lands it on an airport in Bangor, Maine. Engle and the remaining survivors will soon discover that the something strange waiting around the corner. The airport is empty. There is no radio. No way to call the emergency. The beverages are tasteless and the gun has not explosive force to induce damage. Beside that they hears some strange noise from the distance.
The group theorizes that when they was asleep, the plane goes through a time rift and the only to way to get back to present is to go back through that time rift. In the novella, the rift appears an a Aurora Borealis.
It is revealed later that the strange noise that the group heard comes from what one of the novella’s character describes it as “The Langoliers”, floating spheres with Chainsaw-like teeth, which leave trails of black nothingness in their wake. Engle manage to escape the monsters in the tick of time as the group watches the rest of the land below falling into a formless, black void.
Later one the characters proposes the idea that the Langoliers’ purpose is to clean up what’s left of the past by eating it. The other characters realize that the trip through the rip has allowed them to come to terms with their regrets. Because they need to be asleep to survive the rip again, another passenger, Nick Hopewell, volunteers to fly the plane through, knowing that this will cost him his life. The cabin pressure is decreased and all but Nick, breathing through an emergency oxygen mask, fall into a deep sleep.
The survivors awaken, unharmed except for nosebleeds caused by the drop in air pressure. Seemingly, nothing has changed. The plane lands in a deserted Los Angeles. Concluding that now the time rift has brought them a short distance into the future, the group takes shelter against a wall to avoid the airport’s human traffic. A flash hits them and they find themselves in the present again.
As a viewer and a not-big-fan of Stephen King, I liked the movie a lot. It was quite enjoyable to watch. I wished if it was turned into a major motion picture with high caliber actors but it was all fine. However many people out there would agree that the movie was by far the worst in King’s adaptation.