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The Dead Zone


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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The Dead Zone is based on a novel by Stephen King, directed by David Cronenberg ("Scanners", "The Fly") and produced by Debra Hill ("Halloween", "The Fog"). Such a trio of horror vets would be expected to come up with an evening of shocks and gore, but "The Dead Zone" is a surprise. While it has great atmospheric eeriness and undeniably scary moments, "The Dead Zone" is at heart a sensitive and thoughtful portrayal of main character Johnny Smith's dilemma. Christopher Walken, king of the vaguely creepy, plays Smith, a man who awakens from a five-year coma with the very mixed blessing of second sight. At the mere touch of a hand, Smith is unwillingly launched into scenes of past and future terror. (Director Cronenberg is said to have fired blanks from a .357 Magnum just out of camera range to keep Walken's flinching spontaneous.) "The Dead Zone" wisely takes its time telling the story, and thus allows for some great performances. Walken gives a rich portrayal of the conflicted Smith, and Colleen Dewhurst and Tom Skerritt both do welcome turns in smaller roles. The most fun of all, though, is clearly being had by Martin Sheen, who gives a spirited performance as a complete sleazebag. "--Ali Davis"

Amazon.com

The Dead Zone is based on a novel by Stephen King, directed by David Cronenberg (Scanners, The Fly) and produced by Debra Hill (Halloween, The Fog). Such a trio of horror vets would be expected to come up with an evening of shocks and gore, but The Dead Zone is a surprise. While it has great atmospheric eeriness and undeniably scary moments, The Dead Zone is at heart a sensitive and thoughtful portrayal of main character Johnny Smith's dilemma. Christopher Walken, king of the vaguely creepy, plays Smith, a man who awakens from a five-year coma with the very mixed blessing of second sight. At the mere touch of a hand, Smith is unwillingly launched into scenes of past and future terror. (Director Cronenberg is said to have fired blanks from a .357 Magnum just out of camera range to keep Walken's flinching spontaneous.) The Dead Zone wisely takes its time telling the story, and thus allows for some great performances. Walken gives a rich portrayal of the conflicted Smith, and Colleen Dewhurst and Tom Skerritt both do welcome turns in smaller roles. The most fun of all, though, is clearly being had by Martin Sheen, who gives a spirited performance as a complete sleazebag. --Ali Davis

Special Features

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Product Details

  • Actors: Christopher Walken, Brooke Adams, Tom Skerritt, Herbert Lom, Anthony Zerbe
  • Directors: David Cronenberg
  • Writers: Jeffrey Boam, Stephen King
  • Producers: Debra Hill, Dino De Laurentiis, Jeffrey Chernov
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Full Screen, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Dubbed: English, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Paramount
  • DVD Release Date: September 19, 2000
  • Run Time: 103 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (461 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004W5UG
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #105,987 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Dead Zone" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

104 of 106 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Jolley HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 30, 2003
Format: DVD
For some reason, The Dead Zone has always been one of my least favorite Stephen King novels, but I have to say this movie adaptation of the novel is first-rate indeed, one of the most underappreciated of all the movies based on the work of the king of horror. The film's success is due in large part to Christopher Walken; with a less capable actor filling the role of Johnny Smith, this movie could have turned out as flat as a pancake. Walken, the consummate actor, is mesmerizing here. It's a complex role to play, as Johnny Smith has not exactly been blessed by the kind hands of fate. When we first meet him, he is a happy English teacher preparing to marry the woman he loves; a stormy night and a runaway milk tanker later, he wakes up to find that five years have passed, his girl has married someone else, and he is all but incapable of even walking. If you think this is a film about eliminating a politician of great and destructive evil, you're not even half-right. While that is of course the focus of the concluding minutes, the movie itself is all about Johnny's struggles to come to terms with his new life, a new life which includes a frightening power to see into the past and future of those whom he physically touches. The first manifestation comes in handy, as he helps save a nurse's little girl from dying in a fire, but traumatic, soul-draining visions of horror take a lot out of a guy as time moves on.
Johnny first comes to terms with his power when he agrees to help the police discover the identity of an elusive serial killer walking the streets of Castle Rock (which, for some strange reason, is supposedly located in New Hampshire rather than Maine).
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 10, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
The Dead Zone is the finest movie adaptation of a Stephen King novel because it captures perfectly the essence of true terror: the haunts of the past mixed with the unpredictability of the future. Christopher Walken captures this concoction and presents a dead-on performance as a man who awakens from a lengthy coma to discover he has the gift(or curse)of not only being able to predict the future but to change it. The Dead Zone works so well because most of it takes place in a small town atmosphere, which gives the characters the opportunity to fully develop. It also helps to have a first-rate supporting cast with the likes of accomplished actors such as Anthony Zerbe, Tom Skeritt, and Martin Sheen among many others. And since the tone of the film is largely grim, most of the scenes are shot appropriately in winter(with minimalist surroundings and less emphasis on special effects). But all told, it's just great to see a King adaptation that doesn't center around one gory fright after another, but instead presents the frightening unpredictability of the human soul in stark (almost Orwellian) terms.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 12, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
In my opinion, this is the best film made from a Stephen King work, but it may be too understated for its own good. I've visited many Stephen King discussion websites, and "The Dead Zone" appears surprisingly rarely in the threads about movies made from King works.
One would expect that in a film featuring Christopher Walken and Martin Sheen, Walken would play the villain and Sheen the hero. This film turns that assumption neatly on its head, and it's a wise choice, too; for all his talent and oddball appeal, Walken does not have the type of oily charisma needed for Greg Stillson, the character Sheen plays. Sheen, however, does a terrific (though at times over-the-top) job of playing a wolf-in-sheep's-clothing politician, a far cry from the saintly President Bartlett he currently plays on TV's "The West Wing."
Walken's performance as Johnny Smith (great name) is more muted--although that scene where he smashes the vase and yells "THE ICE IS GONNA BREAK!" never fails to startle me--and he hits all of the right notes playing a protagonist who is atypically complex for movies, and certainly for "horror" movies (the genre this movie is generally relegated to). Smith starts out righteously wounded, then becomes withdrawn and self-pitying, and finally is faced with a Cassandra-like dilemma (he knows the dreadful future, and also that no one will believe him), but unlike Cassandra, he can do something to prevent it, even though it will mean sacrificing himself. With this knowledge, he realizes that what he'd thought was a curse was really a gift, as he himself says.
This film is also atypical for the "horror" genre in that it has more than its share of heartbreaking scenes.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 29, 2001
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I do not like most Stephen King movies--but I will have to say this movie is in every way superior to the book. I first viewed this film about fifteen years ago--I have watched it endless times and always have tears left for the ending. It is one of my favorite movies and I'm a littlle surprised at that because I tend to like "larger than life" films like Schindler's List, The Godfather, Ben Hur, etc. It is a subtle masterpiece--about an extraordinary man with an ordinary name (John Smith). I have loved Christopher Walken since I first saw this film--he IS John Smith and he makes you feel every emotion of his character. Please, give this gem a chance. It WILL haunt you all your days......................
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