The Dead Zone: “Pretty good, huh?”

I could watch this opening scene from The Dead Zone (1983) again and again, a picture of a teacher reading to his students the best of Poe, and then punctuating it with a “pretty good, huh?” as well as a parting shot—in regards to “The Legend of Sleepy Hallow”—about a “school teacher who gets chased by a headless demon!” Who could teach it better than Christopher Walken–I wanna be Walken! This is Walken’s best film hands down, and what’s more than that, I think it is David Cronenberg’s masterpiece. And I don’t say that lightly either, I think Cronenberg is easily one of the 5 or 10 best directors of the past thirty five years, and this was his great period. I am a huge fan of just about all Cronenberg films from the 70s and early to mid 80s: The Brood (1979), Scanners (1981), Videodrome (1983), and even the hard to come by Shivers (1975). (Note: The Brood still remains for me the most deeply disturbing and hard to watch.) All that said, The Dead Zone still seems his most perfect film, the way he captures the visions, and how they increasing become part of the film landscape and expectational f another dreamworld is beautiful. I want to do a commentary on this film after watching it again, and I just might, but until then here is Walken at one of his finest moments in what is most certainly his finest film.

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2 Responses to The Dead Zone: “Pretty good, huh?”

  1. True. Along with Brainstorm this is one of my favorites. Maybe because they both capture the combination of passion for life with the powerlessness over those passions and of life itself, or death. And Walken is the perfect vehicle for that message being able to carry off the romantic lead in a quirky way that fits a world that’s a little too askew to be easily navigated or understood.

  2. Alan Levine says:

    Right on. I was tweet bashing movies based on Stephen King (I thought “The MIst” was just horrendous) but had drawn the line much after Shawshank Redemption and of course The Dead Zone when his writing and movies became so much more pap (though Misery was well done).

    I had almost forgotten the Zone! Thanks for bringing it back. Both the book and movie were riveting.

    Reading poetry in class, wow does that still happen?

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