Two-disc collector's edition; Genius Products; $32.95
By Steve Palopoli
This adaptation of one of Stephen King's best stories was so long in coming that even die-hard fans barely seemed to care, and mainstream audiences are still getting their heads wrapped around Frank Darabont's 1994 King film The Shawshank Redemption. So maybe it'll be a few years before this mix of Romero-style political B-horror and Lovecraftian fantasy gets the recognition it deserves. Despite a poor casting choice in lead Thomas Jane, King's story of a group of people trapped in a supermarket while a mysterious fog full of all kinds of oogly booglies takes over gets a vivid and overall excellent treatment. In what is as far as I know a DVD first, Darabont got a black-and-white version of the film included on the second of this two-disc set, because he initially envisioned releasing the film like that as a tribute to the '60s low-budget horror he was emulating. Having watched both versions, I think the color's best, but I hope this becomes a trend. How cool would that be if you could watch No Country for Old Men or There Will Be Blood in black-and-white, just for the hell of it? There are lots of featurettes and a director's commentary, and as with everything Darabont does, the package is all well thought out and comprehensive. No one would call his style "fun," but after witnessing the meticulous and exhaustive effort he has put into his DVDs, I have more respect for Darabont than ever. Many King fans won't agree with the changed ending, but at least here they can jump right away to the part of the commentary where he talks about it (like I did). They probably won't like his explanation, either, but the more I watch the film the more I think his choice ties in extremely well with the unspoken theme he has brought out in King's story: Giving up is a trap, even in the face of the apocalypse.
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