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The Dead Zone (1983)

R  |   |  Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller  |  21 October 1983 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 42,297 users   Metascore: 69/100
Reviews: 181 user | 108 critic | 8 from Metacritic.com

A man awakens from a coma to discover he has a psychic detective ability.



(screenplay), (novel)
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Sheriff Bannerman
Sean Sullivan ...
Géza Kovács ...
Sonny Elliman (as Geza Kovacs)
Simon Craig ...
Peter Dvorsky ...
Julie-Ann Heathwood ...


Christopher Walken wakes from a coma due to a car accident, only to find he has lost five years of his life, and yet gained psychic powers. Foreseeing the future appears to be a 'gift' at first, but ends up causing problems... Written by Paul Reynolds <pauljr@innotts.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


In his mind, he has the power to see the future. In his hands, he has the power to change it. See more »


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

21 October 1983 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Stephen King's The Dead Zone  »

Box Office


$10,000,000 (estimated)


SEK 6,933,078 (Sweden)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


There are several deleted scenes that were filmed and completed but have never been seen publicly and are thought to have been discarded prior to the film's release. Among them: - A prologue showing John Smith as a boy (played by Stephen Flynn) who sustains a head injury during an ice hockey match. The scene features actor Sean Sullivan as John's father. - An alternate scene of John Smith's vision of the Camp David scene (featuring Martin Sheen) in which John himself appears in the vision as a helpless spectator. Photos of these scenes appeared in the December 1983 issue of Cinefantastique. See more »


All the lights on the tanker stay lit even though it completely detaches from the rig. See more »


[first lines]
Johnny Smith: [Johnny is reading "The Raven" to his class] And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting, on the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door, and his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming, and the lamp light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor, and my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor, shall be lifted... nevermore.
See more »

Crazy Credits

As the opening titles roll, certain parts (or "dead zones") of the screen become blocked out, until the part of the screen you can see spell out the title "The Dead Zone." See more »


Referenced in Pulp Fiction (1994) See more »


Camptown Races
Written by Stephen Foster
Performed by Traditional
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

A fitting King adaptation.
10 August 2005 | by (the Mad Hatter's tea party.) – See all my reviews

A schoolteacher Johnny Smith (Christopher Walken) a survivor of a road accident awakes from a five-year coma to discover he has psychic abilities, which he gets visions of the past, present and the deadly future. And how he does it, is through the use of touch. But life has changed within that time with his girlfriend (Brooke Adams) being married; he's basically crippled and no longer having a job. So now he uses his abilities to help a sheriff (Tom Skerritt) solve a murder case, to save a child's life and predicting world's fate from an evilly corrupt politician (Martin Sheen) who plans to be president.

It's definitely one of my favourite King adaptations and you could say Cronenberg at his best. This time around Cronenberg has taken a more mainstream (even though depressing) approach with none of his grotesque and disturbing visuals evident, but that doesn't take away from the experience - as on show is good story telling, performances and film-making. Visually the film does hold strong imagery (especially the vision scenes) and also the picture truly captures the unsaturated colours of the wintry backdrop, which makes the bleak atmosphere such a dour affair. Though the sharp stabbing sounds when Johnny gets a vision truly knocks you, but it's the stinging outcome that made the film for me. Distinctive photography by Mark Irwin was beautifully constructed and pretty smooth in the detail of the settings. While, the driving score stood out and was particularly on the spot with capturing the right mood. Sound performances are given by the likes of the sympathetic Christopher Walken and the innocent Brooke Adams. Martian Sheen delivers a rather hammy performance and Tom Skerritt's performance is the total opposite, being rather toned down. Cronenberg's solid direction paces the film swiftly and also creates some well-staged sequences of tension that stick in your head. In all you can always expect dashing film-making by Cronenberg and that's what you get in this picture.

The story is what I had some gripes with. At times it felt like writer Jeffrey Boam was trying to squeeze too much into the story. Some interesting and intelligent sub-plots (murder investigation) felt hurried and rather contrived - it was like it was concentrating and building more towards the final act instead. But then again time is money and it didn't take away from my overall enjoyment of this film. The plot is basically a portrait of a man coming to grips with his pain and accepting the fate his been chosen and also throw in some social commentary into the mix. Also added is the occasional dabbing of dry/witty remarks, but for me it was uncomfortable humour. That being pretty much the state of the film. One thing I noticed, but don't know if this symbolism was intended but the way Johnny is always wearing the black coat reminded me of death (fate). Especially with touch his can see into the future and actually alter what can happen (say death). Maybe it was just I?

It isn't gut wrenching stuff (visually speaking) we've come to expect by Cronenberg, but still he nails down a well drawn up and gripping drama/thriller.

38 of 45 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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