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


David Cronenberg


Jeffrey Boam (screenplay), Stephen King (novel)
3,976 ( 209)
7 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Christopher Walken ... Johnny Smith
Brooke Adams ... Sarah Bracknell
Tom Skerritt ... Sheriff Bannerman
Herbert Lom ... Dr. Sam Weizak
Anthony Zerbe ... Roger Stuart
Colleen Dewhurst ... Henrietta Dodd
Martin Sheen ... Greg Stillson
Nicholas Campbell ... Frank Dodd
Sean Sullivan ... Herb Smith
Jackie Burroughs ... Vera Smith
Géza Kovács Géza Kovács ... Sonny Elliman (as Geza Kovacs)
Roberta Weiss Roberta Weiss ... Alma Frechette
Simon Craig ... Chris Stuart
Peter Dvorsky ... Dardis
Julie-Ann Heathwood Julie-Ann Heathwood ... Amy


Johnny Smith 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:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Written in 1979, the novel by Stephen King was the first book of his to reach #1 on the bestseller list (hard cover), a milestone for King who said it was "one of my most successful ever." It was 428 pages. See more »


When Henrietta Dodd is shot, she grabs the banister for a few seconds. At that time, there is no blood on her hands or the banister. A split second later, she falls to the floor and there is blood on her left hand and the banister. 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.
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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 »

Alternate Versions

Although the UK cinema version was 18-rated and intact in 1986 Thorn-EMI released a British home video version with 13 seconds cut to obtain a 15 certificate rating from the BBFC. A scissor suicide sequence was re-edited to remove shots of the preparation and aftermath, and shots of topless nudity and the descending scissors were removed from the gazebo murder. Later 18-rated releases feature the full uncut print. See more »


Featured in WatchMojo: Top 10 Underrated Films of the 1980s (2016) See more »


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

User Reviews

Hand of Doom
27 August 2017 | by Minus_The_BeerSee all my reviews

Of all the various cinematic adaptations of Stephen King's work throughout the '80s, none is perhaps more under-rated or over-looked than 1983's "The Dead Zone." Hot on the heels of his bizarre yet brilliant cult-classic "Videodrome," director David Cronenberg emerges with perhaps his most restrained and even-tempered work to date. Given that the film itself is a bit of a head-trip, that really says something. Along for the ride is Christopher Walken, who similarly commits to the tragic bend of the material with one of his best performances to date. Likewise, the script from Jeffrey Boam distills King's novel into an episodic format that makes it easier to digest than any "true" adaptation of the source material could ever hope for.

Johnny (Walken) has everything going for him. A respected school teacher, his life is only enriched with Sarah (Brooke Adams) by his side. Five minutes into the film, and it seems our character has already found his happy ending. Unfortunately, he finds his life (and his car) flipped upside down when an automobile accident sends him into a five-year coma. No use crying over spilled milk (literally). When he awakes, he finds himself burdened with the psychic ability to see anyone's grisly future simply by touching hands. Soon, he is helping a local sheriff (Tom Skeritt) solve a string of brutal murders and doing his best to stop an out-of- control, megalomaniacal politician (sound familiar?) before he goes too far. Of course, he takes the time to reconnect with the love of his life and mentor a young loner (Simon Craig), whose haircut suggests he was imported from the previous decade.

"The Dead Zone" benefits greatly from its slightly unorthodox structure; you can see why a TV adaptation eventually came to be. The film unravels much like four different anthology stories concerning the same character. Walken walks through the whole thing with one of his most sympathetic and humane performances, while Cronenberg shows he can do mainstream horror just fine, thank you very much. Unlike his previous efforts, "The Dead Zone" doesn't carry much in the way of gore and is the better for it. The dramatic angle of the story is what makes it all come together. An outlier in a truly iconic oeuvre, the film is hardly a dead zone in the director's history of violence.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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English | Russian

Release Date:

21 October 1983 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Stephen King's The Dead Zone See more »


Box Office


$10,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$4,556,083, 23 October 1983

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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