The Dead Zone (1983)

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Johnny Smith (Christopher Walken) is driving home from his fiancée’ Sarah’s (Brooke Adams) house when he is involved in a horrific car accident. He wakes up from a coma several years later to find things have changed drastically. His fiancée Sarah has moved on and found love with a new man. However the most drastic of changes occurs when Johnny grabs the wrist of his nurses hand. He says to her that “Amy needs your help”. Amy is the nurses daughter and she rushes home to find that her house has burned down but her daughter is safe.

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Later Johnny begins to have terrifying visions of things that have happened or have yet to happen. The police use Johnny’s skill to help them catch a serial killer stalking the town. Johnny becomes somewhat of a town celebrity as others call on him for help. However it’s not until Johnny meets and touches the hand of Greg Stillson (Martin Sheen), a man running for Senator, that things take an even more sinister turn.

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Johnny catches a glimpse of a possible future where Stillson is president and close to starting World War III. Johnny realises his power to see things was given for a reason. Most Stephen King adaptations are utter shite, lets face it. The ones that Stephen King hates, like Stanley Kubrick’s version of ‘The Shining’, are the only ones worth watching. He may be able to write horror, but he knows dick about any adaptations of his book. The one time he tried to give people a taste of his version of a horror movie we got ‘Maximum Overdrive, do with that information what you will.

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However that being said, this is one of the better King adaptations. For starters we have a great director taking the reins in David Cronenberg. Next you have two of the finest actors in Christopher Walken and Martin Sheen which just make this infinitely more watchable. You have a supporting cast of Tom Skerrit, Brooke Adams, Herbert Lom and Anthony Zerbe and you have a brilliant  movie all round. The script is brilliant, and Cronenberg ratchets up the tension in all the right places. It really is a fantastic movie, and one I’ll definitely watch again.

5/5

JM

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The Believers (1987)

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I remember stumbling across this gem whilst channel hopping late one night. It is a fantastic thriller directed by the late, great John Schlesinger (Midnight Cowboy, Marathon Man). It stars Martin Sheen as a psychiatrist called Cal Jamison who moves to New York with his young son after his wife is killed in a tragic accident. He is trying to get closer to his son and help him overcome the loss.

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Dr Jamison is called in by the NYPD to assist them with the deaths of two young boys who are believed to have been killed in a voodoo ritual by a cult. As Dr Jamison digs deeper into the cult he and his son become then become their target.

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Martin Sheen is always worth watching in my opinion. No matter what film he’s in, he always brings his A game. Here he is magnificent as Cal Jamison, you sense the dread creeping in as he struggles to uncover those involved in the cult and find a way to battle their black magic and stop them from getting his son.

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There is some fantastically skin crawling effects, particularly the scene where Cal’s girlfriend Jessica Halliday (Helen Shaver) has spiders crawl from a pulsating wound in her face. The supporting cast is great too. You have Robert Loggia and Jimmy Smits as two police officers who also become the focus of the cult as they themselves are looking into the deaths of the two boys. Harris Yulin is fantastic as the slippery businessman Robert Calder who has a few skeletons in his closet.

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I definitely recommend this sinister little movie to anyone. I know lots haven’t heard of it, I myself was one. Now I recommend it to anyone I can. If you are looking for a decent horror/thriller to tide you over then seriously consider this.

4/5

JM

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