Gruesome Gazette

Gruesome Gazette Logo

The Dead Zone(1983)(Review)[Weirdo Wednesday]

When director David Cronenberg was entering the era of his prime, he presented to us a vision of a Stephen King story starring Christopher Walken. When a man has an accident and enters a long coma, he awakes sometime later to find out the world has passed him by. But he also comes to find that he has a new psychic power where he can see someone’s immediate future & impending doom by coming into contact with them.

This is a story I’ve seen parodied on things like ‘South Park’ time and time again without ever having seen the source material. But it has some chilling images of almost ‘Final Destination’ like incidents playing out as Chris Walken does some head shaking and mouth-agape reactions. As silly as it may sound, these are beats that only Cronenberg can truly hit without becoming campy.

There’s a lot to enjoy here; Cronenberg entering the peak of his career after directing films like “Scanners” & “Videodrome” and this was right before he produced his masterpiece “The Fly”. So he is firing on all cylinders. Walken is pretty young and able to hit some emotional beats that give the film shape. We also have some quality special effects that would foreshadow future Cronenberg talents such as car crashes, pyrotechnics, and more.

However, I feel that this may be a bit of a wasted opportunity. While it’s a pretty clever idea and it’s pulled off well, there was soooo muchhh that could have been done. The foresight only really is utilized for a few set pieces before divulging into politics and away from the emotionally charged visions we previously experienced. It’s one of those films where the set up is arguably perfect, but you can just feel that it isn’t fully embraced. Whether that’s due to money restraints or what was simply capable at the time with special effects or whatever, is a bit beyond me, but I was slightly disappointed by the promise the film’s set up had prepared me for. It just kind of kicks & screams as it starts turning it’s attention away from children in danger & big, scary accidents, into political corruption and other predictable commentary.

But as I said, there is still quite a fun film here. Cronenberg VS. King is one hell of a match for the mid-80s and I’m so thankful that it exists, but for a guy who is right in between his 2 (arguable) masterpieces, this one is a bit of a flat note. I’d place it near the mid-bottom of Cronenberg’s slate of my favorites.

‘Til Next Time,
Mike Cleopatra

Scroll to Top