The Langoliers (miniseries)
Title card from the first episode
|Based on||"The Langoliers"|
by Stephen King
|Written by||Tom Holland (teleplay)|
|Directed by||Tom Holland|
Mark Lindsay Chapman
|Music by||Vladimir Horunzhy|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||2|
|Running time||180 min|
|Production company(s)||Laurel Entertainment|
|Original release||May 14 –|
May 15, 1995
The Langoliers is a horror miniseries consisting of two episodes of 1½ hours each. It was directed and written by Tom Holland and based on the novella by Stephen King from the four-part anthology book Four Past Midnight. The series was produced by Mitchell Galin and David R. Kappes, for Laurel Entertainment, Inc. The miniseries originally aired May 14–15, 1995 on the ABC network.
During a red-eye flight of a Lockheed L-1011 from Los Angeles International Airport to Boston Logan International Airport, the plane flies through a strange light, and most of the passengers and flight crew disappear, leaving behind only personal artifacts. Only those passengers who were asleep remain, and discover the predicament when they wake. Pilot Brian Engle, deadheading on the flight, takes the controls; unable to contact any other airport, he decides to land the plane at Bangor International Airport because of its long runway and lighter traffic level.
In addition to Engle, the other passengers include: Nick Hopewell, a mysterious Englishman; Laurel Stevenson, a schoolteacher on vacation; Don Gaffney, a tool and die worker on his way to meet his new granddaughter; Albert Kaussner, a violinist on his way to the Berklee College of Music; Bethany Sims, a girl whose estranged family is planning on sending her to a drug rehab; Bob Jenkins, a mystery-novel author; Dinah Bellman, a blind girl on her way to Boston to undergo optic surgery; Rudy Warwick, a perpetually sleepy businessman with a ravenous appetite; and Craig Toomy, an unstable business executive agitated over missing a scheduled meeting in Boston. Dinah, who has some telepathic ability, senses troubling issues with Craig and warns the others about him. In a flashback, it is shown that Craig suffered from psychological abuse from his father, who instilled in him a fear of the "Langoliers", creatures who hunt down and devour the lazy and irresponsible.
When they land in Bangor, the airport seems deserted, and without any power. They also discover that everything is dull and lifeless – they cannot light matches, and food and drink are tasteless. Brian fears the jet fuel will lack any ability to move the plane. Dinah also reports hearing a strange sound in the distance. Bob postulates they passed through an aurora borealis and entered a time rift, sending them a few minutes into the past and out of sync. As the others search the airport for any type of help, Craig becomes more unstable, and after finding a gun in an airport locker, takes Bethany hostage and demands they take off again. Albert subdues Craig and Nick ties him up after realizing the gun's bullets are similarly affected by the strange environment and thus harmless, to the point that a bullet essentially bounces off Albert without actually hurting him.
Dinah warns them the noises in the distance are getting louder. Part of the group discover a "pocket of the present" on board the plane, and objects brought aboard from the airport regain their normal behavior. The group determine they can refuel and take off, heading for the time rift, and hopefully return to normal time. As Brian prepares the plane for take off, the others go to bring Craig back, but find he has escaped the bonds. When found, he stabs Dinah and Don with a knife, killing the latter. Albert again subdues Craig, and the others leave him unconscious in the airport as they race Dinah back to the plane.
As they board, the group witnesses strange creatures emerge from the horizon, consuming everything including the ground. Bob calls these creatures Langoliers, creatures that feed on time which has passed. As a panicked Craig comes running out of the airport, a weak Dinah is able to psychically convince him his meeting has moved from Boston to here. In a hallucinatory state, Craig gleefully admits to his boss he cost his company $43 million, in hopes of escaping his father's abuse. The delay leaves Craig vulnerable and he is eaten by the Langoliers. The plane takes off just as the Langoliers consume the entire airport beneath them. As they fly through the void, Dinah succumbs to her wound and dies while recalling the lines "everything was beautiful, even things that were dead."
As the plane approaches the time rift, Bob hastily recalls they had survived their first trip into the rift because they had been asleep, and could disappear if they pass through it awake. Brian is able to reduce the cabin pressure, which will knock them unconscious, but someone needs to remain awake to fly the plane on course. Nick volunteers, having revealed he was a government assassin on a mission, but tells Laurel to travel to London to explain this to his estranged father after they return safely. The plan works; Nick disappears as the plane passes the rift, and Brian wakes shortly after to land the plane safely in Los Angeles.
The passengers are concerned they seem to be in a similar state as they were in Bangor, but Bob, using the evidence in front of him, such as the return of sound and smell, believes they may be a few minutes ahead of everyone else, and they will shortly catch up to them. As they watch, they see other people start to blur into view, before they suddenly snap into the proper time stream. Only the onlooking children spot their appearance, calling them out as the arrival of "the new people". They run happily through the airport, having returned to their world.
- Patricia Wettig: Laurel Stevenson, a school teacher who uncharacteristically answered a personal ad to meet a man in Boston.
- Dean Stockwell: Bob Jenkins, a mystery writer with a strong ability for deduction. He manages to piece together the situation and provides many outrageous theories which come true for the most part, sometimes with his sidekick Albert's help.
- David Morse: Captain Brian Engle, an airline pilot on his way to Boston after hearing his ex-wife had died in a fire. He is qualified to fly the plane and is able to take off and land it safely.
- Mark Lindsay Chapman: Nick Hopewell, a British secret agent and hitman going to Boston for a final mission. He is tough, quick yet compassionate for the other passengers with the exception of Toomy.
- Frankie Faison: Don Gaffney, a military aircraft tool-and-die worker on his way to Boston to meet his first granddaughter.
- Baxter Harris: Rudy Warwick, a businessman whose insatiable appetite and sleepiness helps Bob deduce situations on more than one occasion.
- Kimber Riddle: Bethany Simms, a rebellious teenager on her way to Worcester, Massachusetts, to stay with her aunt, though she is convinced she'll be spending the entire time in drug rehab.
- Christopher Collet: Albert "Ace" Kaussner, a violinist on his way to attend a music school in Boston. He becomes the "Watson" to Bob Jenkins.
- Kate Maberly: Dinah Catherine Bellman, a blind girl on her way to Boston to have a surgery to help restore her eyesight. She has strange psychic powers and is able to see and communicate with Toomy telepathically. She is strong willed and seems to know a lot more of what's going on than anyone else.
- Bronson Pinchot: Craig Toomy, a broker working for an unnamed large company, who is psychologically unsound due to abuse by his domineering father that he faced as a child.
- John Griesemer: Roger Toomy, Craig's cruel, bad-tempered father. Although he is supposedly deceased during the events of the miniseries, he continues to torment Craig in hallucinations.
- Stephen King (cameo): Tom Holby, Craig Toomy's boss, whom Toomy, in his final hallucination, reveals to that he deliberately lost $43,000,000 by investing it in stocks that he knew were worthless.
The miniseries was filmed almost entirely in and around the Bangor International Airport in Bangor, Maine (author King's hometown) during the summer of 1994. Exterior shots were also filmed at LAX airport.
The Langoliers received mixed reviews upon its release. According to Rotten Tomatoes, 52% of critics gave the miniseries a positive review (out of 23 reviews) with an average rating of 5.21/10. Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly gave it a "B" rating, calling it an episode of The Twilight Zone stretched out to four hours, [but] nonetheless does have its moments. TV Guide gave it one out of five stars, calling it tedious and boring, criticizing its "dull" script, "cardboard characters," "ludicrous special effects," and its "dishwatery cast, [with the sole exception of] Pinchot, who rolls his eyes like an alien thespian from the Planet Ham." Variety found the first three hours of the series work well, but that it falls apart when the monster is revealed. The book Stephen King Films FAQ mentioned that Bronson Pinchot "chews more scenery than all of the Langoliers put together".
- "Clip from Entertainment Tonight". Retrieved October 24, 2013.
- "Stephen King's 'The Langoliers' (1995)" – via www.rottentomatoes.com.
- Tucker, K. TV Movie Review: 'The Langoliers' Entertainment Weekly, May 12, 1995. Retrieved March 24, 2011.
- "The Langoliers - TV Guide". TVGuide.com.
- Scott, Tony; Scott, Tony (May 12, 1995). "Stephen King's the Langoliers".
- Doviak, Scott Von (February 2014). Stephen King Films FAQ: All That's Left to Know About the King of Horror on Film. ISBN 9781480386181.