Film (1983). Dino De Laurentiis/Lorimar. Directed by David Cronenberg. Written by Jeffrey Boam, based on The Dead Zone (1979) by Stephen King. Cast includes Brooke Adams, Herbert Lom, Martin Sheen, Tom Skerritt, Christopher Walken and Anthony Zerbe. 103 minutes. Colour.
Borderline-sf movie about John Smith (Walken), who has an accident, spends five years in a coma, and wakes to learn he has developed the Psi Power of Precognition. The "dead zone" is a blank spot in his visions which may represent the possibility of the future being changed. The more Smith uses his powers, which he is loath to do because of the cargo of pain his visions often carry (and because they age him), the more cut off he becomes from ordinary humanity. He performs several minor miracles, solves an ugly murder mystery, and ultimately prevents World War Three by thwarting the election of a smooth, narcissistic politician (Sheen) who might otherwise, in the future, have plunged the world into Holocaust. Cronenberg's least typical and most commercial work, perhaps because King's sprawling novel is a long way removed from the personal material he normally uses, The Dead Zone is nevertheless a good and powerful film, notable for its sad, insistent images of winter, correlating with Smith's retreat from life and also with the dead zone of the title. Walken's performance in the main role is admirably lost and icy. [PN]
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