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The news keeps spilling out like an open wound of dreadful information, people are stuck at home in quarantine, and horror fans are talking about Captain Trips, aka the superflu, aka the man-made virus in Stephen King’s novel The Stand. This coronavirus thus far is nowhere near as deadly as the superflu. But we can see some parallels between real life and fiction: a collective state of anxiety and helplessness, the governments’ responses (or lack thereof), quickly filling hospitals, no known treatments, the dread of the cough. The Stand is basically the worst-case scenario of our current state of affairs mixed with supernatural elements, including one of King’s most notable villains: The Dark Man. 

Some Background 

This 1994 miniseries, directed by Mick Garris and written by King himself, is a classic. Some fans love it, some hate it; that is bound to happen with any book-to-screen adaptation. I have a love/hate relationship with the show. There are moments where I find it frightening and thrilling, emotional and, at times, comical. Other times it is completely frustrating and cringeworthy.

The Stand miniseries is six hours long and still, understandably, can’t include everything in the 1152 page uncut book. All that said, I’m not going to compare the show to the book because, despite their relationship, they are two different entities. Rather I will review the show on its own, occasionally pointing out some iotas relating to the novel. 

Okay. Enough of my ramblings. Let’s get started. 

The Plague  

Everything is fine until it isn’t. On a California military base protected by a razor wire fence and officer Charles Campion (Rick McKinnon) in a security booth, a biological virus has breached. Everyone inside the base is dead. Campion, the only survivor, panics and drives as far away as possible, taking his wife Sally (Hope Marie Carlton), their daughter, and the virus with him. 

As Campion travels, the virus spreads rapidly. People die left and right. But the government refuses to acknowledge their fault in the matter, downplaying how serious the disease actually is. Citizens riot, desperate for some kind of response. Only when the government starts losing their own members do they recognize the gravity of the situation.


Campion makes it all the way to Arnette, Texas, where he utters his last breath to Stu Redman (Gary Sinse). For weeks, the military holds Stu and others who came in contact with Campion in quarantine. Only Stu survives.

The hospital puts him under many tests until the entire staff acquires the disease and dies. Stu escapes quarantine and runs outside to a new world. As he lays on the grass, trying to take everything in, he has a vision of Abagail Freeman (Ruby Dee), a 108-year-old prophet best known as “Mother Abagail.”  Abagail asks him to come see her, to come home. There’s not much time left. 

The Rest of the Crew (So Far)

Larry Underwood (Adam Storke), the vain, egotistical rock star who only sees his mother when he needs money. Living in California, he travels to New York and meets Rat Man (Rick Aviles), whose significance has not yet come to light. 

Another of our few female protagonists is Frannie Goldsmith (Molly Ringwald). She is compassionate and strong-willed, living with her father and dealing with the pesky admirations of Harold Lauder (Corin Nemec). 

Nick Andros (Rob Lowe), a sweet young man who is deaf, non-speaking, and the constant victim of Ray Booth (Patrick Kilpatrick). Nick is the first to meet Abagail. 

Lloyd Henreid (Miguel Ferrer) has a career dedicated to committing crimes. While the cops arrest him for murder, he sees a mysterious man perched on a telephone wire. But that man turns out to be a crow.


Kareem Abdul Jabbar plays the Monster Shouter, a minor character who foreshadows the apocalypse and Larry’s fate.  

And, finally, out of the shadows in the middle of the night emerges none other than Randall Flagg, The Dark Man (Jamey Sheridan).

“Folks, I’ve just been ordered by my uninvited fascist guests to shut down.”

I adore (adore!) Rae Flowers (Kathy Bates). Her short scene guts me every time. Though the show does not credit Bates, she puts on one hell of a performance as a sardonic radio host who takes no prisoners. We don’t get to see much of her, but she is so well written that it feels like we’ve known her forever.

The Introduction

The Stand starts out with a bang. After Campion drives away, the camera leads us into his booth where we dive into the security footage and land in the military building. Blue Oyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear the Reaper” plays as we float over the myriad of dead bodies piled on top of one another. One man kneels against a door, fingers inches away from the handle while a woman sits straight in her chair, neck cricked to the side, eyes white and dead. A game show is on the TV in one break room, the jovial contestants unaware of their future demises. Lunch trays are splattered across the floor, blood drips down the victims’ mouths. Lights in another break room sputter on and off. There isn’t a single place absent of death.

This scene is the perfect introduction to the series: the arrangement of the bodies, the number of deaths, the music. We are seeing the multitude of this man-made virus and the undoubtable aftermath to come:

The world is astronomically fucked.



As with the book, the cast in the miniseries is predominately white and male. One could argue they were recreating what King wrote, but that’s not a good excuse considering creative license exists. And this story is about the apocalypse. You’re telling me all the survivors are mainly white people? No. Just no.

I also want to mention Abagail Freemantle. She is one of the most important characters in the story, perhaps one of King’s most notable ever. And Ruby Dee is amazing in this role. But Mother Abagail as a character is stereotypical towards Black women. (This trait is very common for several Black characters in King’s early works, including The Shining and The Green Mile.) As much as I love The Stand, this stereotype is an issue that is impossible to ignore. 

Then there are moments when things get very cheesy. Adam Storke’s acting sometimes leaves something to be desired (e.g. Larry’s reaction when The Monster Shouter tells him “he’s coming for you” looks like Storke just woke up from a nap and forgot he was in a television show). There are some small continuity errors you might catch if you watch very carefully, including the occasional camera in the window.

Oh, and there’s this:

The Verdict

I have some issues with the show, but I still fairly enjoy watching The Stand. There’s something a little bit comforting about the fact that we haven’t gotten as bad as King’s world. It is cheesy, yet also disturbing, action-packed, and exciting. You can watch this episode on YouTube; keep in mind a lot of the music is muted because of copyright (the death montage is completely silent because of “Don’t Fear the Reaper.”).

“The Plague” get’s 3 out of 5 Cthulhu. 3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)


Until episode two, check out what else we’re watching here at Haunted MTL.

First image after cover photo from the graphic novel. All other photos from YouTube.

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Movies n TV

Wheel of Time, What Might Be



Episode three of Wheel of Time was easily my favorite so far. It’s dramatic, dark, and speaks to the growing concerns about evil invading the world.

Let’s discuss.

The Story

Let’s begin with Nynaeve. After showing little to no progress, Liandrin thinks she’s ready to go through the Trial of The Arches. This is an initiation that all Aes Sedai have to go through to become a sister. It’s dangerous, not totally understood, and doesn’t have a great survival rate.

One would think some cooler heads would prevail and not let the very new person do this so early. Especially since Nynaeve seems to have some issues with impulse control.


But she goes into the trial, seeing first a scene from her childhood where her parents are attacked. 

The point is to walk back through the arches, leaving her family behind. This she does, but doesn’t look very happy about it. Her second trial involves finding herself back in Two Rivers, where a horrible plague has ripped through the people. Again, she has to walk away from the people that she cares about and come back to reality.

Zoe Robins in Wheel of Time

The third test is a little more tricky. It appears that Nynaeve comes back covered in blood, with no memories of what happened. 

Terrified, she runs from the castle only to find Lan waiting for her. 

In the real world, where Liandrin and the others are waiting for her, she simply never returns. 

This shakes Liandrin. She decides she’s done holding Mat against his will, and lets him leave. Excited, but also smelling a trap, he takes Min with him. 


Still not sure why she had him to start with, but I guess it’s cool that she let him go.

Meanwhile, Rand is working with a familiar face at his hospital. It’s Logain, who we might remember as the false dragon from season one. 

Rand would love some advice about channeling as a man. But it appears that Logain might really have lost his mind.

What worked

My favorite scene in the episode was the one involving Perrin and Lady Suroth. This scene was perfect. 

First off, the character design for Lady Suroth was just perfect. Without moving more than a hand and the crook of her mouth, she manages to be terrifying. 


The massively scary nails help, as does the headdress that is both beautiful and reminiscent of an insect. The sort of insect that seems likely to bite and lay eggs under the skin of a victim. 

Her absolute authority was terrifying. Uno certainly learned that. 

What was more scary, of course, was who was standing next to her. Does she think she’s the one in charge? Or is she perfectly clear on where stands?

What didn’t work

One thing that I don’t love about this season is, unfortunately, not likely to change. It’s true in the books, and it’s true in the show.

Daniel Henney in Wheel of Time

The ensemble cast structure doesn’t work for me. 

It fractures the story in too many directions. It’s too busy, there’s too much going on. At the same time, there isn’t enough going on with individual characters for me to establish an interest in all of them. 


I care what’s happening with Egwene and Nynaeve. I care what’s happening with Perrin.

I don’t care as much about Rand right now. And she wasn’t as involved in this episode, but I don’t care about what Moiraine is going through either.

That could be because the world is coming to an end and they’re refusing to be team players. But maybe that’s just me. 

Overall, this was a fun episode. It feels like pieces are being put into place. The characters are getting ready for something big. Something that we can only see the beginnings of. 

Something that they clearly don’t think they’re ready for. 

3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

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Movies n TV

American Horror Story Delicate, Multiply Thy Pain



American Horror Story Delicate began last night, Killer Queens. And it was, well, a complicated episode. This makes sense because this season is about a complicated topic.

Just in case you didn’t know, this whole season is based on the novel Delicate Condition by Danielle Valentine. If you haven’t read it yet, you should. 

The Story

Anna Victoria Alcott is an actress who just got her big break. She was in a horror movie that no one can stop talking about.

Emma Roberts in American Horror Story Delicate

Except Anna herself. Because this career success couldn’t have come at a worse time. She and her husband Dex are in the middle of the difficult IVF process. It’s expensive, time-consuming and painful. Ironically, so is trying to win an Oscar.

But Anna has other things to worry about. Someone is messing with her. Several women are watching her in public. Worse, someone appears to be getting into her home, slashing notes she leaves for Dex, and removing her vital IVF medication from the fridge so it spoils. Her calendar is hacked to move her doctor appointments around so she misses them. Worst of all, someone broke into her home and crawled into bed with her.


Of course, no one takes any of these concerns seriously. Her agent, Siobhan, is focusing on getting her an Oscar. Her husband, Dex, doesn’t seem to give a shit about her except for when it comes to having a baby. He’s frequently dismissive of her concerns and only seems to want her around when it’s convenient for him. He goes so far as to kick her out of his show opening because she’s on edge.

You know, maybe because she’s clearly being stalked by someone who is trying to keep her from having a baby. 

What worked

AHS Asylum had a lot of dark and important things to say about mental health care in America. AHS Coven had a lot of dark and important things to say about race and gender relationships.

Last season, AHS NYC wasn’t so subtle. Yes, there was a killer. But the real historical horror of the AIDs epidemic in the 80s was the focus of the season. And that worked very well.

This season, the story is clearly about female body autonomy. Anna is a woman struggling with so many issues that modern women face. The balance between our careers and our families. Feeling like growing old is the most unforgivable thing a woman can do. And of course, the fact that our bodies often feel like they don’t belong to us. 


I was also pleased to see some AHS alumni. Denis O’Hare as Dr. Hill was delightful. Leslie Grossman and Billie Lourd will be involved soon, and they never bring anything less than their A-game.

This episode also did something I never thought could happen. It managed to scare me with a calendar notification. That was a special moment for me as a horror fan and calendar-obsessed person.

What didn’t work

Here are some things I didn’t love. First off, the main character Anna is a pushover. She can’t say no to Dex, Talia, Dr. Hill, or Siobhan. No one gets a no from this woman!

Anna didn’t act like that in the book. She stood up to everyone all the time, it was great. She wasn’t getting any support, but she was advocating for herself! That was such an important part of her character, and I’m sad to see that she’s lost that here. 

I also hate the changes made to Siobhan and Talia. Now, please understand that this isn’t me complaining that the book was different. That’s not my point. Siobhan was a kind, loving woman who supported her best friend even while dying of cancer. Talia was a smart, business-oriented woman who was still kind. She was trying to start a family with her transgender husband, and bonded with Anna over their IVF journeys. These were vital characters in the story.

Juliana Canfield in American Horror Story Delicate

I feel like they’ve been railroaded. 

All that being said, this was a decent start to AHS Delicate. It’s not the best start of a season we’ve had. But it’s okay. I’m looking forward to seeing what the rest of the season is going to bring.  4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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Movies n TV

Wheel of Time, Strangers and Friends



Episode two of Wheel of Time, widened the divide between the show and the books. Things are happening out of order, people are acting out of character. Whether this is to the detriment of the show, however, has yet to be determined. 

The story

One character missing from episode one was Rand. You know, our main character. But we finally catch up with him now. 

He’s living in a city with a woman named Selene. They don’t have what I’d call a super healthy relationship. She spends a bit too much time talking about her ex. 

Yes, for those of you who didn’t read the books, this is going to be important.


Rand is also working at an insane asylum. He’s kind and patent with his charges, but not all of his fellow caregivers are. 

Josha Stradowski in The Wheel of Time

Meanwhile, Lan and Moiraine are recovering form their Fade attack from last episode. Rather than taking the time to actually heal, Moiraine decides to head out to find Rand. Her team comes with her, which seems to really bother her. 

While that little hissy fit is taking place, Nynaeve is causing issues. Not by anything she’s doing, but by what she’s not doing. As none of the regular novice teacher have been able to get her to use the One Power, Liandrin offers to try. No one, including me, is thrilled with this. But, the Aes Sedai are desperate. They know that The Dark One is around, and they need Nynaeve to be ready. So, they let the person who’s driven other students to their deaths and actively committed multiple hate crimes take over. 

What could go wrong?

What worked

The special effects in this episode were really well done. I especially liked the dead fade nailed to the wall.

I was also pleased with the introduction of Elayne. Ceara Coveney is playing her, and doing a fine job. She’s warm, kind and sweet. I am thrilled that she’s around. 


One of the greatest things about Wheel of Time is the friendships between the characters. Rand, Perrin, Mat, Nynaeve and Egwene legitimately care about each other. Elayne seems to care for Egwene right away. I really love that. 

What didn’t work

One thing that bothered me in this episode, and frankly the last episode, was Liandrin keeping Mat in prison. I feel like this wasn’t adequately explained. Why does she have him? How did she trap him? What in the hell is she trying to get from him? Perhaps I simply missed something, and please let me know in the comments if this is the case. But it feels like some poor writing to me. 

I also don’t love how Moiraine is portrayed in this episode. Really, in this season so far.

I get that she’s never exactly been a warm person. She’s not personable, open, or kind. Some (most) fans of the book would likely agree that she’s kind of a bitch.

But she’s not a bitch for no reason. She certainly isn’t the sort to lash out at the people who love her because she’s in pain. And that’s what she’s doing through this episode. She’s taking her pain out on Lan. And that’s just out of character for her. 

Dónal Finn in The Wheel of Time.

It feels very much like a lot is being skipped over from the Wheel of Time books. But, so far at least, I don’t feel like anything vital has been missed. It feels more like the story is being streamlined. 

Yes, I understand how this might go horribly wrong. I think we’ve all seen that. But as of right now, the changes make sense for the switch in mediums. 

Now, let’s see if it stays that way. 

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

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