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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Altered States (1980)

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The mind is a powerful thing. Very powerful. When you step over that threshold of reality to dream, the longer you stay there the harder it is to differentiate the two. In the 1960’s Eddie Jessup (William Hurt) is pushing his mind to it’s limits. He has been experimenting with an isolation chamber/flotation tank, which causes him to have vivid hallucinations, mostly religious. Years later when he becomes a respected doctor at Harvard, he decides to try the isolation tank again, but using hallucinogenic drugs which will heighten his visions.

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As he continues to use the tank, with the help of his colleagues Arthur Rosenberg (Bob Balaban), Mason Parrish (Charles Haid) and his wife Emily Jessup (Blair Brown) who is also a doctor, he finds that his physical and mental state are beginning to regress to almost primitive levels. Fearing for his safety, his wife and colleagues try to put a stop to it, but Eddie has gone too far to stop and wants to now go all the way.

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I have always found Ken Russell, who directed this brilliant movie, to be a bit of an acquired taste. I have never seen The Devils or Women In Love which are two of his well known movies, but I have seen Tommy which I wasn’t crazy about. I had heard a lot about this movie before watching it, but was always apprehensive. I managed to get a copy of it on Blu Ray and I was just stunned. It had an effect on me that was similar to finding god. I don’t say this lightly. I was close to tears by the end. Not that it’s that sort of movie, but just that all of my emotions were at boiling point that I was literally an emotional wreck. I have always rated William Hurt as an actor and he is right on top of his game here. He really is fantastic.

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The supporting cast of Bob Balaban, Charles Haid and Blair Brown are brilliant. There are also one or two other faces that you may recognise too. The visuals are astonishing for a film made at the beginning of the 80’s. Mainly during Eddie’s hallucinations, some being particularly disturbing. I really do recommend this. Get hold of it if you can and prepare to be stunned.

5/5

JM

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