Dec 9, 2008

The Dead Zone

In what probably is Woody Allen’s most popular film Annie Hall, Christopher Walken makes an appearance as a young suicidal art fag. Walken’s character mentions to Woody Allen in the film that he sometimes gets the urge while driving to cross the other lane and enter oncoming traffic. Woody Allen than questions Walken’s character's sanity with more than a little streak of arrogance. One would think that a neurotic such as Woody Allen would be more empathetic towards those with mental defects. Anyways, Christopher Walken would later play a character that slams his car into an 18-wheeler in David Cronenberg’s adaption of Stephen King’s The Dead Zone.

David Cronenberg is nothing short of a versatile film director. Cronenberg films such as Shivers, Videodrome, and Naked Lunch have proven that the somewhat strange director enjoys experimenting with the deranged psychological horror with the medium of cinema. With films like The Fly, A History of Violence, and Eastern Promises on the other hand, shows that Cronenberg also can direct films that are fairly straightforward and conventional (yet still graphic and subversive). Cronenberg’s 1983 film The Dead Zone fits into the directors more mass audience accessible type of film.

The Dead Zone is not a film that is impressively directed. The film also does not feature a variety of extreme and bizarre special effects that you might expect from a director like David Cronenberg. The Dead Zone is just a film with an exciting story and precisely executed direction. The film leaves no time for twiddling your thumbs or blinking. The Dead Zone is an example of a film that has such a good story that it would have been hard for a director to screw it up. Naturally, David Cronenberg delivered in the film directing department.

Christopher Walken does an excellent job playing a psychologically tormented man who has lost it all and has been “chosen” to lead a life of saving lives. Walken has always struck me as an individual with some type of 'less than holy' secondary manifesting behavior hidden behind a shell of charm. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was involved with the death of Natalie Wood as he is somewhat accused of. Walken has the natural ability to send chills down my spine. His performance in The Dead Zone is my favorite of his long list of roles.

The Dead Zone also features Martin Sheen as a would-be messianic Adolf Hitler type. I have never found Sheen interesting, but for some reason his role in The Dead Zone is fitting. But just about everything is fitting and Sci-Fi/Thriller/Horror/Drama hybrids don’t get much better than this film. It is also rare that a Hollywood film would show a man end his life with something honorable. The Dead Zone is a film full of virtue, love, and compassion.

-Ty E


thebonebreaker said...

Great Review!

jervaise brooke hamster said...

i haven`t seen this film for 20 years and all i remember from it is one line..."THE ICE IS GONNA` BREAK"...that is such a great memorable line, in fact after reading your reveiw i think maybe i should watch this film again.