The Langoliers (1995)

langoliers poster 1995 movie stephen king
3.5 Overall Score
Story: 3/10
Acting: 3/10
Visuals: 1/10

Stephen King

Dull, long story, clunky dialogue and acting, bad special effects

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Langoliers

Studio:  Laurel Entertainment Inc.

Genre(s):  Horror/Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Release Date(s):  May 14, 1995-May 15, 1995

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

langoliers bronson pinchot bloody

Time eating monsters? Don’t be ridiculous!

Brian Engle (David Morse) finds himself on a cross-country flight when he learns his ex-wife has died.  Falling asleep Engle wakes up to find almost all the passengers and crew of the plane gone.  Left behind is a teacher named Laurel (Patricia Wettig), a recovering addict named Bethany (Kimber Riddle), a violin student named Ace (Christopher Collet), a British agent named Nick (Mark Lindsay), a new grandfather Don (Frankie Faison), a mystery writer named Bob Jenkins (Dean Stockwell), a businessman named Rudy (Baxter Harris), a blind girl named Dinah (Kate Maberly), and a businessman on the run named Craig (Bronson Pinchot).  When they land in Bangor, Maine, they discover they’ve been displaced in time and something is coming.  Craig Toomy has called them the Langoliers…and the Langoliers are hungry.

Directed by Tom Holland, The Langoliers was a two-episode miniseries airing on ABC from May 14, 1995 to May 15, 1995.  The film is based on the Stephen King story “The Langoliers” that was published in Four Past Midnight in 1990.  The miniseries was nominated for a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Drama Miniseries or a Special.

langoliers creatures stephen king

Attack of the badly generated meatballs with teeth!

Stephen King was having a resurgence on TV in the 1990s.  The It miniseries and The Stand both received positive reviews and critical acclaim…and then the deluge came.  A lot of Stephen King’s “not ready for film” books were made into miniseries.  The Langoliers was a so-so novella and even worse as a miniseries.

The first problem with this series is that it was a half-hour Twilight Zone split into two hour-and-half parts.  It just doesn’t have enough story, and the story it does have feels a lot like rehash.  The classic Twilight Zone “Odyssey of Flight 33” took a similar story (and even was halfway referenced in this miniseries).  They add in a few characters like the over-the-top Bronson Pinchot and the “magic girl” Dinah who always seems to be a character in King novels.

The cast is relatively strong (in a 1990s TV movie-type cast), but the dialogue doesn’t help them.  It is clunky and hard to speak.  It seems like they are all on different pages on acting style.  David Morse is dramatic in the role while Dean Stockwell speaks flowery speeches on the ideas of storywriting.  Patricia Wettig is rather unmoving as the lead female while Mark Lindsay Chapman is really weak as the British spy agent.  Bronson Pinchot is completely unhinged the entire show and really the only reason to watch it.  Stephen King makes a cameo near the end of the film as Pinchot’s boss.

langoliers ending freeze frame

When a movie ends in a non-ironic jump freeze frame…it isn’t a good movie.

The movie also isn’t helped by the aged special effects.  Even in 1995, the Langoliers looked stupid and over twenty years later, they look awful.  They are really bad computer generated attackers that just aren’t scary or good looking…the Langoliers appear and they are laughable.

The Langolier isn’t a good film.  It isn’t scary and it isn’t fun.  The ideas of the movie have been rehashed over and over again in shows like Twilight Zone, Lost, and Manifest, and the movie provides little new to the story (other than the ending and starting of days).  If you have hours to kill on a Stephen King miniseries, you might just avoid The Langoliers…the eating of time isn’t worth it.

Related Links:

Salem’s Lot (1979)

It (1990)

The Shining (1997)

Desperation (2006)


Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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