7.2/10
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224 user 95 critic

The Dead Zone (1983)

Trailer
2:13 | Trailer
A man awakens from a coma to discover he has a psychic ability.

Director:

David Cronenberg

Writers:

Jeffrey Boam (screenplay), Stephen King (novel)
Reviews
Popularity
3,071 ( 414)
7 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

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 ... Alma Frechette
Simon Craig ... Chris Stuart
Peter Dvorsky ... Dardis
Julie-Ann Heathwood Julie-Ann Heathwood ... Amy
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

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


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film (and Stephen King's novel) are both loosely based upon the life of famous psychic Peter Hurkos. Hurkos claimed to have acquired his alleged powers after falling off a ladder and hitting his head. See more »

Goofs

During the scenes leading up to the car crash, it is raining heavily in some scene cuts and in others not at all. See more »

Quotes

[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 »

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 »

Connections

Spoofed in Cheers: Woody Gets an Election (1993) See more »

Soundtracks

Camptown Races
(uncredited)
Written by Stephen Foster
Performed by Traditional
See more »

User Reviews

 
A fitting King adaptation.
10 August 2005 | by lost-in-limboSee 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.


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Russian

Release Date:

21 October 1983 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Stephen King's The Dead Zone See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$10,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$4,556,083, 23 October 1983

Gross USA:

$20,766,616

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$20,766,616
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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