The Dead Zone Collector’s Edition Blu Ray Review (Scream Factory)
The Dead Zone is a 1983 thriller film directed by David Cronenberg (The Fly, Scanners, Shivers, Videodrome, and Crash). It’s based on the 1979 novel of the same name by Stephen King (Castle Rock, Maximum Overdrive, Silver Bullet, Doctor Sleep, IT, Pet Sematary, The Outsider, The Stand, and Creepshow). It was written by Jeffrey Boam (Lethal Weapon 1/2/3, The Lost Boys, The Phantom, and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade). It was produced by Dino De Laurentiis (Silver Bullet, Sometimes They Come Back, Firestarter, Cat’s Eye, Maximum Overdrive,and Army of Darkness) & Debra Hill (Halloween franchise, Escape from New York, The Fog, Adventures in Babysitting, and Escape from L.A.). The Sheriff Bannerman character also showed up in Cujo. The project was originally developed at Lorimar Film Entertainment. It was remade into a television series from 2002 to 2007. The budget was at an estimated $10 million and it grossed an estimated $20.8 million at the box office worldwide!!!!
In the town of Castle Rock, John Smith (played by: Christopher Walken from All-American Murder, The Addiction, The Jesus Rolls, Batman Returns, The Deer Hunter, King of New York, and True Romance) is a schoolteacher that’s in love with his colleague Sarah Bracknell (played by: Brooke Adams from Shock Waves, The Unborn, Sometimes They Come Back, and Days of Heaven). After having a headache following a ride on a roller coaster, Johnny politely declines when Sarah asks if he wants to spend the night with her. As he drives home through stormy weather, he has a car accident that leaves him in a coma. He awakens under the care of neurologist Dr. Sam Weizak (played by: Herbert Lom from Pink Panther franchise, Ten Little Indians, Count Dracula, and Asylum). He finds that five years have passed and Sarah is now married with a child. Johnny soon discovers that he now has the psychic ability to learn aspects of a person’s life through physical contact with them. As he touches a nurse’s hand, he has a vision of her daughter trapped in a fire. He also sees that Weizak’s mother who was thought to have died during World War II is actually still alive and that a pushy reporter’s sister committed suicide. Johnny’s mother has a heart attack and dies after being visited by Johnny in the hospital. As news of his “gift” spreads, Johnny is asked by Sheriff George Bannerman (played by: Tom Skerritt from Alien, Top Gun, Poltergeist III, and Poison Ivy) for help with a series of murders. He sleeps with Sarah after reuniting with her. Having a change of heart about the murders, Johnny agrees to help Bannerman and through a vision at the crime scene he discovers it’s someone close to Bannerman’. Deputy Frank Dodd (played by: Nicholas Campbell from Naked Lunch, Cinderella Man, A Bridge Too Far, and The Omen) is trapped in the middle of it. A disillusioned Johnny now barely able to walk and moves away to attempt to live a more isolated life. He takes on tutoring jobs for children and working from home until a wealthy man named Roger Stuart (played by: Anthony Zerbe from American Hustle, The Matrix franchise, Licence to Kill, and See No Evil, Hear No Evil) implores him to come visit & tutor his son Chris (played by: Simon Craig from Kung Fu: The Legend Continues). They form a friendship, but Johnny soon receives a vision of Chris and two other boys falling through the ice of a local pond then drowning due to wearing heavy hockey equipment during a practice. Johnny attends a rally for Greg Stillson (played by: Martin Sheen from The Final Countdown, Judas and the Black Messiah, The Departed, Badlands, Firestarter, and Apocalypse Now), a superficially charismatic third-party candidate for the United States Senate. Johnny shakes Stillson’s hand and has a vision of him becoming president then ordering a preemptive nuclear strike against the Soviet Union that results in a nuclear holocaust. Johnny is forced with a hard decision but he must stop this evil man with power. What will he do? Can he change the future again????The Dead Zone is one of the best Stephen King adaptations ever made and it’s definitely the highest quality one produced by Dino De Laurentiis. David Cronenberg was a hired gun here and The Dead Zone is very different from all his other films. It doesn’t feel like it’s from him but that’s kinda what makes it so great because he stepped outside his comfort zone here and let Stephen King’s work show up on the screen. Plus it was one of the best casts he ever got to work with especially at the time. It plays out like an anthology film because Johnny has to deal with so many different people amd situations in The Dead Zone. My favorite section was the Castle Rock killer, it kinda had a Psycho vibe to it with the son and the mother. The script has some changes from the original source material but it manages to stay pretty faithful to the book. This is one of my all time favorite Christopher Walken performances and I think the John Smith role had so much more potential for other films besides this one. Martin Sheen was pure evil in this amd he was a great villain. You actually hated Greg Stillson when it was over. This had a great supporting cast that included Herbert Lom, Tom Skerritt, Anthony Zerbe, and Brooke Adams. Plus it had a few familiar faces and regulars from other Cronenberg projects. It’s a high quality thriller with some horror elements in it. It has aged better than most older King films to be honest so the replay value is very strong. This brand new blu ray from Scream and Shout Factory looks great, it’s worth the upgrade. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!!Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Scream Factory! This 1080p (1.85:1) transfer is a brand new 4K scan from the original 35mm camera negative. It’s definitely a huge upgrade over any previous blu ray home video release (I’ve already reviewed two in the past) plus my older VHS and DVD copies. This is the best it’s ever looked so far. It has a English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 which actually sounds way better than all the past home video releases and it’s a major improvement. All of the dialogue is crystal clear, all the chaos is elevated, and the music has a killer boost to it. It also includes the original English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track. It has English SDH subtitles. Lets discuss the special features from Scream Factory! Brand new “Audio Commentary” with DP Mark Irwin and moderated by Red Shirt Pictures own Michael Felsher. Brand new “Audio Commentary” # 2 with author Dr. Steve Haberman and director Constantine Nasr. Brand new “Audio Commentary” # 3 with film historian/critic Michael Gingold. Brand new “Audio Commentary” # 4 with music historian Daniel Schweiger with Isolated Score Selections. All four of these commentaries are completely different from each other so you rarely hear the same stuff if you check them all out here. If you are a huge The Dead Zone fan with some extra tome, I highly recommend giving all of these a listen sometime. Lots of information and stories are shared here, They all cover very different aspects of the production from everything from the visuals, shooting style, the book, changes made, locations, the cast, characters, David Cronenberg, the music, and everything elsew that you would want to know about the feature. I personally enjoyed the Mark Irwin track the most because he actually worked on The Dead Zone so it felt more personal and more of a inside look into everything. “Memories from the Dead Zone” is a little over 12 minutes. It has interviews with director David Cronenberg, actress Brooke Adams, and others. Cronenberg chats about how he got the gig. He was hanging out with John Landis and he got introduced to producer Debra Hill. She offered him the film and he accepted it right away because he wanted to work on someone else’s material for once. He says they had 5 different scripts to choose from and he explains why he picked the one from Jeffrey Boam. It still felt like the book and original source material. He goes over the cast including using some of his favorites from his other films. Brooke Adams said it was the first Stephen King novel that she ever read and she loved the character. She brings up personally knowing Walken before he got big in acting. She was doing a play with him at the time and he actually got her the role for this. “Look of the Dead Zone” is a little over 9 minutes. It has interviews with director David Cronenberg and his DP Mark Irwin. They chat about the look of the film. They talk about the locations, costumes, production design, and tricks for the shoot. They go over using Canada to look like the United States in this. “Visions and Horror From The Dead Zone” is almost 10 minutes. It has interviews with director David Cronenberg and his DP Mark Irwin. They bring up some deleted scenes that were shot for The Dead Zone. They go over all the different visions and situations Johnny get into during the feature. They break down each segment. “The Politics of the Dead Zone” is a little over 11 minutes. It has interviews with director David Cronenberg, actors Brooke Adams, Martin Sheen, and others. They chat about the Greg Stillson character. They talk about the politics and outcome of it all. They bring up the music for it. They mention that it still holds up and gets praise after all these years. These 4 archive extras are from the old Collector’s Edition release from Paramount. They are up scaled so they look better than before and they haven’t included on a release in a long time including the recent blu ray in the Stephen King collection from Paramount themselves so this is really cool. It has a “Theatrical Trailer” and two “TV Spots” for the movie here. Scream Factory not only added various brand new commentaries here but they put together some awesome additional bonus material. “Behind-the-Scenes Still Gallery” is a little over 13 minutes, it features 157 pictures from the production on it. “Trailers from Hell – Mick Garris on THE DEAD ZONE” is a little over 2 minutes. The director of so many Stephen King adaptations gives his thoughts on the film as the trailer plays. “Cold Visions: Producing THE DEAD ZONE” is a little over 20 minute interview with production manager John M. Eckert and associate producer Jeffrey Chernov. They chat about how they got in the business. They talk about the story and how important the love angle aspect was to it. They bring up the director and actor relationships. They mention the casting for The Dead Zone and the locations that they used for it. “Sarah’s Story – An Interview with Actress Brooke Adams” is a little over 10 minute interview with the lead actress, She talks about her father being in theater. She chats about how she got into acting and started getting gigs at an early age. She brings up the original source material and book by Stephen King. She chats about her character in the movie. She mentions working with Walken, Sheen, and Cronenberg here. She goes over experience on The Dead Zone. It also comes with a slipcover and reversible artwork. This needs to be added to your Stephen King, David Cronenberg, and Christopher Walken collections ASAP. It’s available everywhere right now, CHECK IT OUT!!!!