The Dead Zone
The Dead Zone original poster
Directed by: David Cronenberg
Produced by: Debrorah Hill; Dino de Laurentis (Exec. Producer)
Written by: Stephen King (novel); Jeffrey Boam
Cast: Christopher Walken, Martin Sheen, Tom Skerritt, Herbert Lom, Brook Adams, Colleen Dewhurst
Runtime: 103 mins
Country: USA
Language: English
Ratings: USA:R; UK:18; Australia:M

The Dead Zone is a 1983 film directed by David Cronenberg. The screenplay by Jeffrey Boam is based on the 1979 Stephen King novel of the same name. Christopher Walken stars in the leading role. Martin Sheen, Tom Skerritt, Herbert Lom, Brooke Adams and Colleen Dewhurst are also featured. The music was written by Michael Kamen.

Plot summaryEdit

Spoiler warning: The following contains plot details about
the entire movie.

Johnny Smith (Walken) is a young New England schoolteacher in love with his colleague Sarah (Adams) when he is involved in a serious car accident that sends him into a coma. He awakes under the care of neurologist Dr. Weizak (Lom) and counts himself fortunate when he notes no casts, bandages or visible signs of injuries on his body. However, the awakening turns rude when he is told that five years have passed since he last knew consciousness: his girlfriend has long since married and had a child.

Johnny's transition back to life is made rougher when he discovers that he has the ability to learn a person's secrets (past, present, future) through making physical contact with the person.

After reluctantly using his ability to help a local sheriff (Skerritt) solve a series of brutal rape-murders, Johnny attempts to resume his profession, as a private tutor. However, his ability continues to haunt him, and he has a vision of an entire youth ice hockey team drowning after an ice break in a local pond.

When he foresees that a rising local political star, Greg Stillson (Sheen), will someday be elected President of the United States, with disastrous consequences - in John's vision, Stillson starts a nuclear holocaust, presumably destroying all of civilization - he decides he must take action. His life is further complicated when he meets his former girlfriend, who is working as a volunteer campaign worker for Stillson.

After much inner debate over the morality of his decision, Johnny decides to avert this possible future by shooting Stillson at a campaign event. He misses and winds up mortally wounded, but he has nonetheless accomplished his mission. During the shooting, the terrified Stillson grabbed a baby to use as a human shield. A photographer covering the meeting got a picture of this cowardly act and ran out before Stillson's security could stop him. Stillson goes to the dying Johnny, demanding to know who sent him. Johnny touches Stillson, and receives one final vision - that of a haggard Stillson, ruined as a result of the scandal, killing himself. "You're finished," he tells the politician, just before he dies.


Actor Role
Christopher Walken Johnny Smith
Martin Sheen Sen. Greg Stillson
Brooke Adams Sarah Bracknell
Tom Skerritt Sheriff Bannerman
Herbert Lom Dr. Sam Weizak
Anthony Zerbe Roger Stuart
Colleen Dewhurst Henrietta Dodd
Nicholas Campbell Frank Dodd

Selected quotesEdit

  • "'Bless me'? Do you know what God did for me? He threw an 18-wheeled truck at me and bounced me into nowhere for five years! When I woke up, my girl was gone, my job was gone, my legs are just about useless... Blessed me? God's been a real sport to me!" - Walken as Smith
  • "I have had a vision that I am going to be President of the United States someday. And nobody, and I mean *nobody* is going to stop me!" - Sheen as Stillson


  • The gazebo where one of the attacks took place was a permanent structure in a park at Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada. Eschewing the label "permanent", the gazebo has recently been demolished.
  • Somewhat ironically, Sheen later went on to spend several years playing a (very different) President on the television drama The West Wing.
  • In 2002, The Dead Zone story was resurrected as a USA Network TV show starring '80s teen star Anthony Michael Hall.

External links Edit

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