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TOP 500 REVIEWERon August 13, 2006
Stephen King, in the course of 30 years, has become a gargantuan commercial success. And why not? He is wicked scary and chillingly entertaining. But part of King's success is attributed to his ability to raise common, fundamental truths and write characters with universal human flaws in his warped, fantastical stories - truths which any audience can latch onto and flaws which everyone can identify with. It's no different with the fabulous TV cable rendition of his Nightmares & Dreamscapes. Themes of isolation, alienation, mortality, the human condition, and social disintegration are touched on.

This lavish, all-out TNT production doesn't stinge in its mini-series adaptation. I was amazed by the acting talent brought on board: William Hurt, William H. Macy, Kim Delaney (still sexy), Tom Berenger, Samantha Mathis... Stephen King's stories are magnificently and thoughtfully realized by wonderful, fully committed acting, production values of superb quality, and across-the-board earnest efforts by the writers and directors, who honor Stephen King by cleaving close to the spirit of the author's works. The 8 episodes are selected for their diverse storylines and are uniformly excellent. They are, in turn, comedic, meditative, tense, gentle, allegorical, apocalyptic, and, YES, scary. Personal favorites of mine are "Battleground," "Umney's Last Case," and "You Know They Got a Hell of a Band."

For the completists, of the eight episodes, only five are actually from King's Nightmares and Dreamscapes short story collection. "Autopsy Room Four" and "The Road Virus Heads North" are from Everything's Eventual, while "Battlefield" is from Night Shift. TNT's motto is "We know Drama." But, it seems, they also know horror.

Here are the 8 episodes:

"Battleground" - In this terse, funny, cool f/x-laden episode, William Hurt stars as an icy professional hit man who assassinates the CEO of a prominent toy company and ends up waging a one-man war against living plastic toy soldiers from a Jungle Army Footlocker. The little Savage Commando at the end is awesome! No dialogue in this one, which, in a way, enhances Hurt's acting even more. This episode, pretty much a one-man show, pays homage to the 1975 horror movie Trilogy of Terror, which starred Karen Black and the Twilight Zone's classic "The Invaders."

"Crouch End" - A newlywed American couple, superstitious Doris and the more practical Lonnie (Claire Forlani and Eion Bailey), honeymooning in London, are invited to dinner in the neighborhood of Crouch End. A London cabbie earnestly warns Lonnie not to go there but of course, the couple pays no heed. In Crouch End, strange things begin to happen - and weird, scary denizens begin to menace them - and, gradually, they come to realize they've ended up in a "thin spot" - an alternate world. This is an unsettling, spooky tale, as the more they get lost, the more desperate the circumstances become. Another instance of a normal, initially happy couple being faced with weird events and having their personal relationship gradually fall apart.

"Umney's Last Case" - Clyde Umney is a private eye plying his trade in 1938 whose world is upended when a man who looks just like him, named Sam Landry, shows up, claiming to be from the future of 2005. Sam has been writing a series of detective novels, with Clyde as the leading character. Sam and his wife Linda are suffering from the loss of their child, and Sam can't handle it; so he swaps places with Clyde. Everyman William H. Macy, as usual, is superb in both the roles of Clyde and Sam.

"The End of the Whole Mess" - Ron Livingston plays an award-winning filmmaker who, in his final hour of life, narrates the story of how his altruistic brother (Henry Thomas), by chemically finding a cure for all violence, instead brought about the end of the world. This is probably my least favorite story. It has its merits, but it moves at a plodding pace.

"The Road Virus Heads North" - Richard Kinell (Tom Berenger) is a famous horror writer shockingly diagnosed with a form of cancer. When driving to Boston for a book-signing event, he chances upon a garage sale and purchases a painting of a car travelling on the road. Eerily, this painting gradually changes and grows more menacing as Kinell goes along. Now, is the painting real or is Kinell delusional? Or is the painting, in reality, controlling his destiny? The painting is obviously a metaphor for Kinell's suddenly shortened mortality, but knowing that doesn't diminish the viewing of the episode.

"The Fifth Quarter" - Willy Evans (Jeremy Sisto) just never has any luck. Caught in a vicious loop of always making wrong choices, he repeatedly ends up in jail. Finally released but desperate to land that one big score and provide for his hardluck family, he goes in search of a treasure's burial site, aided by one quarter of a treasure map. Will his luck change this time? I couldn't help but root for Willy and his wife Karen (Samantha Mathis), who are inherently good people, but who are stuck in an impoverished situation, with no other recourse but crime. I mean, what would you do? Very good, dramatic character study.

"Autopsy Room Four" - King does his version of the "buried alive" scenario with this "bottle" episode. The story is mainly told thru the eyes of Howard Cottrell (Richard Thomas), who is bitten by a snake and pronounced dead. He is taken to the autopsy room, where the coroners begin talk of cutting him open. But here's the thing: Cottrell isn't dead, merely paralyzed, and desperately trying to let the coroners know it. Richard Thomas does a very good job conveying vulnerable, stark terror while - due to his frozen position on the slab - unable to properly emote. This is nerve-wracking stuff.

"You Know They Got a Hell of a Band" - This is a very cool episode. Kim Delaney and Steven Weber star as a troubled couple on a road trip thru Oregon who get lost and end up in a quaint little town called Rock & Roll Heaven, where the great musical icons of the '60s and '70s are alive and well. It seems like Shangri-La, there's a free concert every night. But, admission comes at a cost: once you enter, you can't leave. Uncanny resemblance between the actors and the musical legends they portray.

I only wish other stories from the Nightmares & Dreamscapes collection had been adapted to the small screen. It would've been interesting to see these following stories interpreted on television: "Suffer the Little Children," "The Ten O'Clock People," "The House on Maple Street," and "The Doctor's Case" (a kind-of posthumous Sherlock Holmes story). *Sigh* but you can't have everything. And what we do have, in these 8 stories, are certainly good enough and thought-provoking enough to tide us over until the next Stephen King project.

From what I understand, extras on this beautiful, slipcase three-disc set include additional scenes, featurettes, interviews and production sketches. Running time: 480 minutes. Screen aspect: Original Aspect Ratio - 1.78, Widescreen (16:9 Transfer).
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Anthology series are problematic at best. There will always (hopefully) be episodes that you love, but also those that strain even the most patient of viewers. I don't care if it's "The Twilight Zone," "Alfred Hitchcock Presents," "The Outer Limits," "Tales From The Crypt," "Masters of Horror" or any of the many others I could list--it's always true. So, it's with trepidation that I approach this review. With 8 episodes, I have 8 chances of making someone angry! However, the one thing of which I am certain--this series, while ambitious, is not a 5 star review!

I would categorize only one episode as a five star rating. This honor belongs to a familiar story that's done extraordinarily well. In "Battleground," William Hurt gives a memorable, intense performance as a hitman battling a squadron of toy soldiers come to life. This is done brilliantly without dialogue--part of what makes it so dynamic. We've seen this concept before, but here it is expertly executed.

Three episodes qualify as four stars. "Umney's Last Case" stars a terrific William H. Macy and works as a comedic detective noir as an author battles his fictional character. "End of the Whole Mess" is perhaps the most complicated and intriguing tale. It's an intelligent script thoughtfully performed by Ron Livingston about no less than the end of the world. And "Fifth Quarter," with Jeremy Sisto, a criminal double-cross story that's entertaining and twisty.

One episode ranked at three stars. "You Know They Got A Hell of a Band" depicts a rock and roll heaven (or is it Hell)? I admired much in this tale with Steven Webber and Kim Delaney--it's a great concept, but ultimately a little uneven.

One episode ranked at two stars. "Road Virus Heads North," with Tom Berenger, is an interesting failure. I liked Berenger's performance, but the overall concept never really gelled for me. I felt like I'd seen it before, only better.

And lastly, there are two legitimate one star messes! "Crouch End" is an incoherent and uninteresting look at a couple trapped in an alternate reality. Supernatural hokum with no real logic, I found the whole escapade to be tedious and tiresome. But nothing could prepare me for perhaps the worst hour of TV I sat though last year! That dubious distinction will have to go to "Autopsy Room Four" with Richard Thomas. The characters in this are so silly, and the ongoing, insufferable and ridiculous narration by Thomas was a disaster in scripting. After 10 minutes of listening to it drone on and on and on and on, saying the same thing over and over and over--I wanted to scream, "OK, I get it!!! Now put me out of my misery!"

Look, I had no intention of writing about this show--but reading other effusive customer reviews, I didn't want anyone to get blindsided by the inconsistencies between episodes. I'd recommend the show--definately--but it's hit or miss just like any other anthology. KGHarris, 10/06.
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on June 13, 2013
I read thes stories when I was a teenager. Maybe they aren't his most terrifying but some are genuinely creepy & unsettling which is in true King form. The End of the Whole Mess was probabaly my favorite but I wouldn't categorize it as horror. Of course if this were a true story, it would absolutely be terrifying. The Fifth Quarter is a very intriguing crime story. Battleground has some awesome effects & is a well rounded story directed by none other than Brian Hanson. Umney's Last Case is a crime drama like no other & William Macy is brilliant, as usual. The short story for You Know They Got a Hell of a Band is the story I remember most from reading the book, but it fails drastically here on film. The Road Virus Heads North may not be the best of the lot but it will creep u out...that smile still gives me the eebie, jeebies. Autopsy & Crouch End are not good on film either but there is enough here to warrant the purchase price & definetly worth watching. The good out numbers the bad & lets face it, no one has the imagination of our King. For us true fans, he is the "shizznel" & we love and honor anything with his name attached. I enjoyed the majority & I think u will too. There's something here for everyone & worth adding to any movie collection.
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on January 11, 2007
I must admit to being a little disappointed that there were not more stories from the book in this series of short films. I was particularly looking forward to seeing Dolans Cadillac and Chattery Teeth on the smal screen. However, all eight of the chosen subjects were great. We watched them all over a 3 night sitting and loved them. Battleground (*****), Umney's Last Case (****), The Fifth Quarter (****) and Autopsey Room 4 (*****) are the pick of the bunch. The rest get *** from me.
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on December 16, 2013
These were a series of short stories. They're good to watch once but after that, I just sort of lost interest. My favourite episode though is Rock N Roll Heaven. This could also make a nice gift for someone who is really into the Twilight Zone or One Step Beyond or The Outer Limits because it's a lot like that. If your having a weirdathon at your house some Saturday and everyones watching old episodes of the Twilight Zone, tossing in one or two episodes of these might be appropriate. I do recommend acquiring these as a collectors item for that one person in your family who is really into the weird.....they'll love these.
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on April 25, 2013
Originally a TV series, these short movie-type settings of Stephen King's short stories are captivating, wonderful to watch, especially if you are a fan of King's short stories--which I am (often re-read them). The acting is excellent in each of the filmed stories, and, for the most part, they adhere closely to the short story originals, often even the dialogue. My favorite is Crouch End, King's homage to H.P. Lovecraft.
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on February 3, 2013
I bought this set because I wanted to own (and, repeat-watch) the short movie "Battleground". This one movie was worth the price of the set, so the other movies included are bonuses as far as I'm concerned. I highly recommend this set of movies.
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on March 25, 2008
Nightmares and Dreamscapes is a collection of Stephen King stories from his anthology of the same name. It boasts a great cast featuring William Hurt, the always-excellent William H. Macy and others (including the woeful Henry Thomas of the Walton's!)

It was filmed in my home City of Melbourne in Australia and I was lucky enough to be present at the filming of one scene, and I've wanted to see this ever since.

Well worth the purchase, intelligent and entertaining set, some hit and miss as always but Mr King never fails to deliver, I'm a huge fan of his work and am in the beginning stages of collecting all his books and movies based on his work.

I won't go into any of the stories as I personally hate spoilers (unless they spoil a woeful film!).
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on June 9, 2014
These stories by Stephen King are much like the series mentioned in the title. Like many Stephen King stories, they sometimes
have a conclusive ending, sometimes you have to look for your own answer. At times you won't like the ending, just like in the Mist.
But these are an enjoyable watch . Battleground with William Hurt is great. The Fifth Quarter with Jeremy Sisto is another really
good one. Umney's Last Case is an interesting tale about a writer creating another life and switching roles, not a new concept, but
executed very nicely. Those were my favorite ones, but they all are enjoyable. A good value for the price.
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on May 19, 2013
Mr. King amazes me. How does this writing 'genius' find the time to eat, sleep, or take time out with his family to continue
writing such a 'long' string of books that must rival most book writers and install some type of an 'awe' syndrome into the minds of beginning writers.
This book is no exception to his never ending mind-boggling themes of how life for some could really be. It will keep you guessing
of "what's up next." as the movie leads you down the path of 'suspense, apprehension, and surprises" from beginning to end.
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