The Dead Zone (1983) Poster

(1983)

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  • High school teacher, Johnny Smith (Christopher Walken) awakens from a five year coma following a horrendous car accident to find that he has gained a psychic ability that allows him to see a person's past, present, and future just by touching them. Despite using his "gift" to help people, Johnny is viewed by many as a freak, so he moves out of town and takes a job as a private tutor for the son of millionaire Roger Stuart (Anthony Zerbe), at whose house he meets Greg Stillson (Martin Sheen), a charismatic politician running for the state senate. At one of Stillson's rallies, Johnny shakes his hand and immediately sees that Stillson is actually psychotic and that he will become President of the United States and cause an apocalyptic nuclear war with the Soviet Union. Edit

  • The Dead Zone is based on the 1979 novel of the same name, written by American horror writer Stephen King. The novel was adapted for the movie by American screenwriter Jeffrey Boam. The book was also made into a television series, The Dead Zone (2002) (2002-2007). It's said that the story might be based on the case of Peter Hurkos [1911-1988], a self-proclaimed psychic who, following a head injury, claimed to know things about people simply by touching them or objects belonging to them, an ability known as psychometry. Edit

  • The "dead zone" refers to a blank spot during Johnny's visions into which he cannot see. When he describes this dead zone to Dr Weizak (Herbert Lom), the doctor concludes that it is an indication of Johnny's ability to not only see into the future but to change it, to alter the outcome of his premonitions. Edit

  • Resolved as to what he must do, Johnny returns home to pick up his rifle, then catches the bus to Castle Rock where a "Stillson for Senator" rally is planned for the next day. He breaks into the hall and hides overnight in the balcony. When Stillson's supporters start arriving in the morning, he loads his rifle and waits. When Stillson takes the podium, Johnny stands up and takes aim. Sarah (Brooke Adams), who is standing near Stillson with baby Denny in her arms, sees Johnny and calls out his name, causing his shot to go astray. Stillson grabs Denny in order to shield himself. Johnny tries to shoot again but can't risk hitting Denny and is himself shot by Stillson's security detail. He falls from the balcony, landing on the floor below. Meanwhile, a photographer captures it all on camera then runs from the hall. Stillson goes over to Johnny and demands to know who hired him. Johnny grabs Stillson's wrist and, in a final vision, sees a bedraggled Stillson picking up a handgun from on top of a Newsweek cover showing him shielding himself with Denny. "No future for Stillson," the cover reads. A shot is heard, and the Newsweek cover is splattered with Stillson's blood. "It's over...you're finished," Johnny whispers. In the final scene, Sarah kneels beside Johnny and takes his head into her arms. "Why?", she sobs. With his dying breath, Johnny tells her goodbye, to which she replies with a whispered "I love you." Edit

  • In the UK, the film was released on VHS by Cannon and Thorn Emi and was rated 15 by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC). This lower rating was achieved by cuts being made. Any other VHS and DVD release is rated 18 and uncut. Edit

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