Johnny Smith (Christopher Walken) is high-school teacher, a car-crash victim who wakes up from a 5-year coma with the ability to see into people's future. Consequently this extra sensory perception enables Johnny to avert several potential disasters and earns him a degree of local celebrity. After his 5 missing years however, Johnny has lost both his job and his fiance and he longs for his former existence without his new 'gift'. That is until he meets with a local politician and would-be Presidential candidate Greg Stillson (Martin Sheen) and sees future events of genuinely catalysmic proportions. It is only then that Johnny must come to terms with his powers, his conscience, and his destiny.
Good film, well worth a watch
- The Dead Zone review by RP
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Based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, this is perhaps the first of director David Cronenberg's films with big-ticket Hollywood actors. Until then Cronenberg's horror-genre films had been low-budget affairs with (usually) unknown actors [Aside: Although his immediately preceding film, 'Videodrome' did feature Debbie Harry of 'Blondie' fame].
Christopher Walken (who won an Oscar for his role in 'The Deerhunter') plays schoolteacher Johnny Smith, who develops psychic powers and has visions of the past, present and future when physically touching a person. And he can also change the future by his actions.
Martin Sheen plays an evil far-right wannabe US Senator, Tom Skerritt plays the local sheriff, Brooke Adams (whatever happened to her film career) plays the love interest, and Herbert Lom is cast against type as a sympathetic doctor, rather than as a mad scientist.
Filmed in Canada, there's plenty of snow. And the rather good actors deliver a rather good film. Yes, the 'psychic powers' theme has perhaps been a bit overdone now, but the acting is good, the script is good, the score is good, the directing is good - it's a good film, well worth a watch.
4/5 stars - recommended. This 30+ year-old-film deserves to be seen more.