First episode impressions: ‘The Outsider’ (TV review)


he Outsider” (Sundays, HBO) is written, directed and paced with such slow-burn confidence that a viewer can almost fool themselves into thinking this isn’t just another Stephen King novel adaptation. Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a lot of King’s catalog; I count some of his books and their movie versions as masterpieces. But it’s hard to disguise the Kingian cliches on display in this adaptation of his 2018 novel.

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All 6 of Mike Flanagan’s horror films, ranked (Movie commentary)


 was so impressed with “The Haunting of Hill House” that I immediately checked out writer-director Mike Flanagan’s previous horror work, which is easy to do in these days of streaming services. Although his IMDB goes back to the turn of the century with student films, Flanagan didn’t enter the mainstream until this decade, when he directed six horror (or horror-adjacent) films. All are worth checking out to see the progression of an emerging genre talent. It’s interesting to look at rankings of Flanagan’s films on the web and see that there’s nowhere near a consensus on the order, but here are my personal rankings:

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‘The Langoliers’ review

“The Langoliers” – Directed by Tom Holland, “The Langoliers” is among the elite TV movies, Stephen King movies and time-travel movies. It works much like a mystery: The plot twists and turns like a roller coaster and clues are dropped throughout as we, like the passengers on the transcontinental flight, try to figure out what the heck is going on. It’s a brainteaser that ties together so nicely that you can’t help but admire King’s inventiveness.

– John Hansen, “The 25 coolest science fiction movies,” NDSU Spectrum, Sept. 4, 1998

‘It’ taps into ’80s nostalgia, but is short on scares (Movie review)


he 2017 “It” remake – now available from Redbox — is the most Stephen Kingy Stephen King adaptation to hit the screen in a long time, as the interactions between the heroic nerds and villainous bullies are palpable, and a lot of the action with titular clown Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård) and other monsters feels like King’s words brought to life with modern special effects – something not possible in the 1990 TV miniseries.

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‘Apt Pupil’ review

“Apt Pupil” – Fascinated by Hitler’s Germany, a young student (Brad Renfro) discovers the nature of evil from an ex-Nazi. Bryan Singer’s film is a deliciously depressing tale about a fascinating subject, bursting with themes on the nature of evil: “How and why does a person become evil?,” “Do we all have the potential for evil?” It explores the futility of public education and the power of learning through experience. The only misstep is that a crucial plot device is easy to miss.

– John Hansen, NDSU Spectrum, January 1999

‘The Green Mile’ review

“The Green Mile” – As he did with “The Shawshank Redemption,” Frank Darabont translates a powerful Stephen King prison tale into a screen gem. Mysterious messiah figure John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan), the supposed murderer of two young girls, is sentenced to be electrocuted in the 1930s. But, when guard Paul Edgecomb (Tom Hanks) is miraculously healed by the simple-minded, big-hearted man, he’s convinced of Coffey’s innocence. “The Green” Mile” is a tale of life and death, reality and spirituality, good and evil, revenge and forgiveness. Soaring emotion – mostly depressing, sometimes uplifting – is balanced with a subtle commentary on the pains of compassion in a cruel world.

– John Hansen, NDSU Spectrum, January 2000

‘Hearts in Atlantis’ review

ndsu spectrum: Movie review

‘Hearts in Atlantis’ is Stephen King at his best

oct. 5, 2001


There once was a time when getting an adult library card, playing ball with friends and watching “The Lone Ranger” on TV could fill a mind with excitement. There was a time when saving up for that shiny new bike was an all-consuming obsession. There was a time when tales of Bronco Nagurski inching towards the end zone could fill a mind with awe.

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First episode impressions: ‘The Mist’ (TV review)

Spike TV publicity photo

Anyone who has driven through a thick Atlantic Coast fog that limits vision to 5 feet in front of your car knows that few experiences are tenser – especially if you’re not familiar with the area. Therefore, “The Mist” (10 p.m. Eastern Thursdays on Spike) – a TV series that follows in the tradition of the Stephen King short story (1980) and the movie (2007) – should theoretically be scary. But it makes the weird decision to create fairly safe environments in the first three episodes (which can be streamed at

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