The Dead Zone (1983)

dead zone poster 1983 movie stephen king
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 8/10

Good cast

Oddly episodic story

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Dead Zone

Studio:  Lorimar Productions

Genre(s):  Horror/Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Mystery/Suspense

Release Date(s):  October 21, 1983

MPAA Rating:  R


I really to get a bigger bed…plus, it’s on fire!

Johnny Smith (Christopher Walken) a young man with his future ahead of him.  He has a girl named Sarah Bracknell (Brooke Adams) who loves him and he hopes to marry.  When he leaves her home on a late night, a tragic accident leaves him in a coma…for five years.  The coma awakens something in Johnny.  When he comes in contact with people, he can often see their future or their past.  While in this “dead zone”, he can sometimes change the outcome of events by getting involved.  As Johnny tries to adjust to his new life and powers, Johnny learns of a greater horror that he might be able to stop…but how far is he willing to go to prevent a doomed future from occurring.


I really think the swim team should reconsider their suits

Directed by David Cronenberg, The Dead Zone is a horror-drama with aspects of sci-fi and crime film.  The film adapts the 1979 novel by Stephen King and was met with positive reviews.

The Dead Zone is a strange King story because opposed to his other early entries, it really isn’t a story.  I have a hard time considering the story when it actually is almost more science-fiction based.  The strange flowing movie isn’t my favorite, but it is quite memorable.



The story of The Dead Zone has a very strange pacing.  The first part of the film involves Walken’s accident and the hunt for a killer in Castle Rock.  The second half involves Walken’s new life and then the stopping of candidate Greg Stillson (Martin Sheen).  It is a bit unbalanced and the only really connecting pieces between this is the underdeveloped relationship with Sarah…which sometimes seems forgotten.  It does raise interesting questions at the end of the film on if you could change things, even at great cost, would you do it?

Walken is classic as the vision seeing Johnny Smith.  Walken is strange enough to keep you watching.  Now, however, I can’t stop seeing the Christopher Walken mock-up of his Johnny character on Saturday Night Live which pointed out pointless stories from the future (“You’re wasting coffee” to a person who is going to forget their coffee).  I like most of the supporting cast, but they don’t get enough screen time.

dead-zone-ending-greg-stillson holds-baby-as-shield-brooke-adams-charlie-sheen

Why did he use a baby as a shield when the baby’s mother would block more of his body…dumb politician!

I love Cronenberg, but The Dead Zone isn’t one of his most visual films.  The film has a nice solid direction and some of Johnny’s visions are memorable, but there aren’t man effects in the film that really have the Cronenberg touch.  The movie is good, but I prefer the edgier horror films that Cronenberg did in the ’70s.

The Dead Zone is an entertaining film, but I have a hard time considering it a horror film.  The movie’s rather segmented style was smartly made into a TV series in 2002 which played better on the segmented nature of the story (though it never had a proper ending).  If you want a true horror film, you probably don’t want The Dead Zone, but it is a rather solid detective film.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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