I’ve never been and never will go to a psychic, palm-reader, phrenologist or anyone who predicts stuff. I even change the channel before Lee Corso grabs the headgear during the picks segment of College Gameday ‘cause people — especially kooky, old people — pretending to know the future freaks me out.
I’m not superstitious. I’m not gullible. I don’t actually believe there is a so-called sixth sense, but I also didn’t think Guns ‘N Roses would ever get back together, and look how that turned out.
“The Dead Zone” freaked me out. Christopher Walken plays a terrible awkward school teacher named Johnny, who wakes up from a five-year coma to become a terribly awkward psychic with a gift that would rightly be called both a blessing and a curse.
“The Dead Zone,” alongside “Pet Semetary,” “Christine” and, to a large extent, “Cujo” is the rare example of an adaption to a Stephen King novel that stays true to the original. I’d argue “Carrie” was better than the book, which was almost academic in its narrative … but we’ll cover that later.
Johnny can’t buy a break. In the beginning he’s got an embarrassing bowl haircut and teaching “The Raven” to middle-schoolers. Then he does the noble thing and refuses to spend the night with his true love in favor of “making it worth the wait” only to get into a car wreck on the way home. When he wakes up, it’s five years later, his girl is gone and nobody wants to touch him forfear of what he might scream at them.
What’s funny about this film is how relatively tame it is considered it’s directed by Mr. Odd And Disturbing himself, David Cronenberg – the man who brought usThe Fly,Scanners andDead Ringers, a movie about twin gynecologists … yep, it’s pretty much what you think. “The Dead Zone” is basically a Lifetime movie by comparison, and even less risqué.
Still … it’s creepy. Granted, Christopher Walken would be creepy sitting on a unicorn reading “Eat, Pray, Love” … wait, God, that’s a terrifying image. Anyway, what “The Dead Zone” does really well is that it poses an interesting moral dilemma: Would you kill someone, knowing that allowing them to live would cause a chain of catastrophic events?
In the film, Johnny poses the scenario of going back and killing Hitler, “knowing what you know now.” The answer is – of course – in order to save the lives of millions. But it’s not really a fair comparison given that we KNOW what Hitler did.When Johnny clutches the hand of an aspiring senator – played with cut-throat intensity by an ever-presidential Martin Sheen – he sees a future in which that same man starts a nuclear war, so he decides to kill him.
Were this an ethical film rather than a horror movie, some of Johnny’s premonitions wouldn’t have come to fruition, but considering he was batting 1,000 percent, chances were this guy was a total psychopath.
Who says horror movies can’t make you think? But I’m still not going to a psychic.