The Dead Zone (1983)

The Dead Zone (1983)

Taglines: In his mind, he has the power to see the future. In his hands, he has the power to change it.

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…

Christopher Walken plays a schoolteacher, Johnny Smith, who awakens from a five-year coma. He discovers that he has acquired the ability to foretell a person’s future simply by touching his or her hand. After seeing several examples, Smith’s doctor (Herbert Lom) becomes convinced that Smith can not only predict the future, but also has the power to change it.

This ability is given its severest test when Smith shakes the hand of ruthless political candidate Greg Stillson (Martin Sheen) — and suddenly has a flash-forward to a nuclear holocaust. The Dead Zone is not only one of the best-ever Stephen King adaptations, but also one of the most consistently successful (and least gory) efforts of director David Cronenberg.

The Dead Zone is a 1983 American horror thriller film directed by David Cronenberg. The screenplay by Jeffrey Boam was based on the 1979 novel of the same name by Stephen King. The film stars Christopher Walken, Brooke Adams, Tom Skerritt, Herbert Lom, Anthony Zerbe, Colleen Dewhurst and Martin Sheen.

The Dead Zone (1983)

About the Story

In the town of Castle Rock, Maine, Johnny Smith (Christopher Walken), a young schoolteacher, is in love with his colleague Sarah Bracknell (Brooke Adams). After having a headache following a ride on a roller-coaster, Johnny politely declines when Sarah asks if he wants to spend the night with her.

As he drives home through stormy weather, Johnny has a car accident that leaves him in a coma. He awakens under the care of neurologist Dr. Sam Weizak (Herbert Lom) and finds that five years have passed and that Sarah has married and had a child.

Johnny also discovers that he now has the psychic ability to learn a person’s secrets (past, present, future) through physical contact with them. As he touches a nurse’s hand, he has a vision of her daughter trapped in a fire. He also sees that Weizak’s mother, long thought to have died during World War II, is still alive and that a reporter’s sister killed herself.

As news of his “gift” spreads, Johnny is asked by a sheriff (Tom Skerritt) for help with a series of murders, but he wants to be left alone and therefore declines. Sarah visits with her infant son and she and Johnny consummate their previous relationship (they had declined to make love before being married).

The Dead Zone (1983)

Having a change of heart, Johnny agrees to help the sheriff and, through a vision at the crime scene, he discovers that the sheriff’s own deputy is the killer. Before they can arrest him, the deputy kills himself. Johnny is then shot by the man’s mother, who in turn is killed by the sheriff.

A disillusioned Johnny, now barely able to walk, moves away and attempts to live a more isolated life. He takes on tutoring jobs for school children, working from home until a wealthy man named Roger Stuart (Anthony Zerbe) implores him to come visit his son. Johnny and the boy, Chris, quickly form a friendship but, after seeing a vision of a boy falling through ice and drowning during a hockey game, Johnny warns Stuart not to let the boy go. Stuart ignores him, but Chris believes him and stays home. Two boys die during the trip, proving Johnny right. Johnny then realizes he has a “dead zone” in his visions, where he can actually change the future.

Johnny attends a rally for Greg Stillson (Martin Sheen), a U.S. Senatorial candidate for whom Sarah is a volunteer. Johnny shakes Stillson’s hand and has a vision of him becoming President of the United States and ordering a nuclear strike against Russia that brings on a nuclear holocaust. He seeks Weizak’s advice, asking, by way of example, if he would have killed Adolf Hitler if he had the chance, knowing in advance the atrocities Hitler would commit. Weizak replies that he would have had no choice but to kill him. Johnny leaves Sarah a letter, telling her that what he is about to do will cost him his life, but that it will be a sacrifice he is willing to make.

The Dead Zone Movie Poster (1983)

The Dead Zone (1983)

Directed by: David Cronenberg
Starring: Christopher Walken, Brooke Adams, Tom Skerritt, Herbert Lom, Colleen Dewhurst, Anthony Zerbe, Jackie Burroughs, Roberta Weiss
Screenplay by: Jeffrey Boam
Production Design by: Carol Spier
Cinematography by: Mark Irwin
Film Editing by: Ronald Sanders
Costume Design by: Olga Dimitrov
Set Decoration by: Tom Coulter
Art Direction by: Barbara Dunphy
Music by: Michael Kamen
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures
Release Date: October 21, 1983