on 15 May 2006
It's been a while since I saw this last but I agree it is one of Kings best adaptations along with Misery - so often he gets a raw deal TV movie slant or a moment of fame in Hollywood only to return to being uncool again, for want of a better word.
Christopher Walken is a fine, solid actor and he really works in this film alongside Martin Sheen, giving it a kind of cult classic status. I feel this is even better than The Shinning in my personal opinion.
The story for those unaware is political, eerie, bit romantic as in love and loss. It's about sacrifice, greed, desire - really adult themes. Considering it's age it's still a great film and I'm just glad in a way nobody has remade it.
on 1 April 2004
When it was released in 1983, many people thought 'The Dead Zone' was a sell-out for director David Cronenberg. Up until that point Cronenberg had stayed faithful to his auteur vision, writing and directing all his own films in Canada, each one with a strong concentration on original and spectacular special effects (usually based around the body). 'The Dead Zone' proved to be unusual for Cronenberg in that he didn't write the script, it was made in the U.S. with mostly American money and it doesn't feature his trademark gorey effects. In fact this film is the inverse of the usual Cronenbergian theme of the body rebelling against the mind. As Christopher Walken's visions become more and more intense, his body ages faster and he moves closer and closer to death.
Instead of spine-chilling special effects, most of the terror here is realized through the stength of the actors' performances. Compared to previous Cronenberg movies the acting here is more interior, more emotional and a deep sense of melancholia prevades throughout.
This may have been a conscious choice on behalf of the director whose previous movie 'Videodrome' wasn't such a success at the box office. He wanted to stay within the horror genre he knew but wished to reach a wider audience. What better way to do that than to adapt a story by the self-styled 'Big Mac of literature', Stephen King. Many regard 'The Dead Zone' as the finest cinematic adaption of a Stephen King story.
Oh and by the way, did anyone notice that at the beginning of the movie when Walken is teaching his English class he asks them to read 'The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow'? He would eventually play the headless horseman in Tim Burton's version of the tale.
In my view, Stephen King's early works have always been his best.And yet, most of them have suffered from poor translations to film.This film bucks that trend thankfully.
The acting talent here is pretty good.Christopher Walken is always watchable in anything he is in (Deer Hunter and Sleepy Hollow to name just two!)and he does a fine job of making Johnny seem vulnerable, frustrated and ultimately driven to do what he knows he HAS to do.Martin Sheen is good as well.He plays the part of a fervent,and slightly crazed, power hungry politician.Herbert Lom is excellent as Johnny's doctor.Tom Skerritt gets a brief appearance too, and is also believable.
The plot is good too and the pacing of the film is spot on.There are definite chapters within the film and there is real development in all of these scenes.I won't spoil the plot, but i can say that all this is a 'horror film' it isn't overly gory or horrific.It is quite thoughtful and poses some interesting moral questions.
For those of you have read the book, this follows the plot pretty well, but doesn't go into the same amount of depth, and some reviewers have criticised this - i disagree with that view.To me, the film has been paced correctly and has edited out the things that are not vitally important.If you haven't read the book, i would really recommend it - it is one of Stephen King's best in my view, and doesn't always get the recognition it deserves.
This dvd is a brilliant buy in my opinion for a number of reasons - good acting talent, good plot and pacing AND the price is perfect too!
Treat yourself to this - fans of Stephen King will love it, and people who like something a bit different will enjoy it too!
on 11 January 2002
Surely the most satisfying of all Stephen King's film adaptations, The Dead Zone finds both writer(King) and Director David Cronenberg in excellent form. Johnny Smith(Chris Walken) wakes up from a 5 year coma to find that by touching someone he can see visions of their past, present and future.
Hounded by the press and forced into hiding, he finds himself thrown into the path of Greg Stilson(Marty Sheen) who is running for president. Smith's vision of Stilson's and the world's future, as he gets to shake his hand at a political rally, provokes the life changing question for us all; "if you lived in Germany in 1939 and knowing what you know now of what Hitler would become, what would you do... would you kill him?"
This tense and beautifully acted forgotten masterpiece is worthy of anyone's collection and warrants repeated viewing in an attempt to unravel the many inter-woven texts.
on 8 March 2016
I remember watching it back when and I thought it was very interesting. When I saw the DVD I grabbed the chance to see it again. It feels a bit dated now in this cynical world that we live in but still captures the imagination.
Johnny Smith is a perfectly happy man, a great job in education and a loving and beautiful partner. One blizzard strewn night he is involved in a car accident and lays in a coma for five years, upon waking he finds that he has psychic abilities. His one time love of his life is now married with a child and as Johnny tries to come to terms with that and also his new found ability, he's hurtling towards confrontations with monsters that literally could have consequences for mankind.
Director David Cronenberg's first dip into in the waters of mainstream cinema, gone is the weirdness and goo sodden traits, in their place comes a great adaptation of a wonderful novel, and a triple pronged sword culminating in a shatteringly brilliant ending. Amazing that some Cronenberg fans missed a trick by pouring scorn on this picture during its original release, for the theme of alienation figures heavy in the piece and Cronenberg, coupled with a brilliant Christopher Walken performance (as Smith), has crafted a most excellent piece of dramatic cinema.
It would be outrageous, and wrong, of me to over tell of the monsters and inner turmoil that Johnny Smith confronts, suffice to say here is a picture that if you haven't seen before then you really need to stay clear of any potential spoilers. The plot summary is in place for all to read, you just need to sit back and enjoy the serial killer strand in the piece, and in this day and age of political monsters, get involved with the excellently Stephen King written political finale that impacts royally the more the years roll by. Backing up the wonderful Walken is the under praised Brooke Adams (as love interest Sarah), Herbert Lom, Tom Skerritt, Anthony Zerbe and a very memorable weasel turn from Martin Sheen, all of whom excel at being given meat to chew on from Cronenberg.
Great story, great cast and very astute direction, so what you waiting for? A hauntingly wonderful 9/10 from me.
For some reason, The Dead Zone has always been one of my least favorite Stephen King novels, but I have to say this movie adaptation of the novel is first-rate indeed, one of the most underappreciated of all the movies based on the work of the king of horror. The film's success is due in large part to Christopher Walken; with a less capable actor filling the role of Johnny Smith, this movie could have turned out as flat as a pancake. Walken, the consummate actor, is mesmerizing here. It's a complex role to play, as Johnny Smith has not exactly been blessed by the kind hands of fate. When we first meet him, he is a happy English teacher preparing to marry the woman he loves; a stormy night and a runaway milk tanker later, he wakes up to find that five years have passed, his girl has married someone else, and he is all but incapable of even walking. If you think this is a film about eliminating a politician of great and destructive evil, you're not even half-right. While that is of course the focus of the concluding minutes, the movie itself is all about Johnny's struggles to come to terms with his new life, a new life which includes a frightening power to see into the past and future of those whom he physically touches. The first manifestation comes in handy, as he helps save a nurse's little girl from dying in a fire, but traumatic, soul-draining visions of horror take a lot out of a guy as time moves on.
Johnny first comes to terms with his power when he agrees to help the police discover the identity of an elusive serial killer walking the streets of Castle Rock (which, for some strange reason, is supposedly located in New Hampshire rather than Maine). This experience only makes him retreat farther into himself, compelling him to move to another town and try to begin a new life within the comfort of his own protective walls. A traumatic vision concerning one of the students he is tutoring leads him to discover a new aspect of his power, and this discovery comes just in time for him to make a difficult decision as to whether or not to sacrifice his own life in order to prevent a truly cataclysmic event from taking place in the future.
David Cronenberg directs this bleak but absorbing film, but don't expect the kind of gore Cronenberg is famous for, as this is not a gore-mired film by any means (although the deaths we do witness are pretty satisfyingly presented). The Dead Zone is a psychological study of human nature and a suspenseful thriller, not a horror movie per se. Martin Sheen leaves an unforgettable mark on the film with his portrayal of as slimy and dangerous a politician as you would ever want to meet (and, as a side note, impersonating Elvis Presley's voice apparently goes over big among New England voters for some reason).
A lot of care and detail went into the making of The Dead Zone, and it shows. The atmosphere is dark and palpable from start to finish, and Christopher Walken commands the viewer's rapt attention at all times. There are a number of very moving scenes, particularly in relation to Johnny's new relationship with his former fiancée, so don't be surprised if Walken coaxes a tear or two out of the corners of your eyes. Many of the early movies based on King novels did not translate to the big screen very effectively, but The Dead Zone is an often overlooked and very impressive exception.
on 19 February 2012
The movie is made from a story written by Stephen King and the film is remarkably successful. Christopher Walken is a very special actor who played this part with perfection.
The commentary is entertaining but could have been more about the film than the stories about making the film (which could have been separate) BUT great fun to watch and was still surprising to watch.
on 1 November 2000
David Cronenberg's adaptation of Stephen King's chiller, proves to be a classic piece of film making. Deeply moving and deeply original this film will have your hairs on the back of your neck stand up. Christopher Walken is excellant as the lead actor 'Johnny Smith' and Cronenberg's direction is also first class. This is how Stephen King adaptations should be made.
on 22 June 2013
Five stars for gripping horror / drama.
Based on the Stephen King novel, this film is one of my all time favourites. Christopher Walken gives a brilliantly moving portrayal of a man (Johnny Smith) who loses 5 years of his life to a coma and wakes in a specialist institute to discover he's gained psychic powers but lost his fiancée to another man.
I first saw this film in the eighties and Walken's acting skills blew me away; he gets so deep into the character's experiences that I feel what he was going through; the moment he discovers he's lost his girl, the fear, frustration and anger he feels about the power he's gained, the cruel media guy who calls him a freak which results in the death of his mum, the way his now married ex turns up, uses him and 'discards' him again (boy was I angry with her for treating him so mean), Walken's relationship with his screen parents which is incredibly moving and personal - I can't watch this film without my heart breaking for Johnny Smith.
Add to that sterling performances from the actors who play his parents, Tom Skerrit as the desperate sheriff trying to solve a speight of sex murders, Herbet Lom as his concerned, compassionate doctor and Martin Sheen as the dangerously ambitious wannabe senator - result - incredibly entertaining and heart wrenching film. I've watched it more times than I've had hot dinners. It never bores - and I always cry my heart out. IMO a must have for one's DVD collection.
Recommended to anyone who enjoys anything to do with the occult / a gripping story.