The Dead Zone (1983)

35mm film, Technicolor, 1.85:1
Dolby Stereo, English

An American science fiction film directed by David Cronenberg and based on the novel by Stephen King. It was his first film that Cronenberg directed for which he didn't write the screenplay. It was shot between 10 January and 26 March 1983 and released in the USA on 28 October 1983.

Plot Summary

School teacher Johnny Smith wakes from a five year coma to find that his entire life has been turned upside down. His girlfriend is now married and he now has the ability to see the future, a ‘gift' that reveals a horrific fate for the entire world when he shakes hands with a fast-rising politician…


Directed by: David Cronenberg
© MCMLXXXIII [1983] Dino De Laurentiis Corporation
Dino De Laurentiis presents a David Cronenberg film. Lorimar Film Entertainment
Produced by: Debra Hill
Associate Producer: Jeffrey Chernov
Screenplay by: Jeffrey Boam
Based on the Novel by: Stephen King
Director of Photography: Mark Irwin
Film Editor: Ronald Sanders
Music Composed and Arranged by: Michael Kamen
Sound Mixer: Bryan Day
Costume Designer: Olga Dimitrov
Makeup Artist: Shonagh Jabour
Hair Stylist: Jenny Arbour
Special Effects Coordinator: Jon Belyeu
Visual Electronic Effects: Michael Lennick
Production Designer: Carol Spier
Locations: Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada; Orono, Ontario, Canada; Stouffville, Ontario, Canada

Christopher Walken (Johnny Smith)
Brooke Adams (Sarah Hazlett Bracknell)
Tom Skerritt (Sheriff George Bannerman)
Herbert Lom (Dr Sam Weizak)
Anthony Zerbe (Roger Stuart)
Colleen Dewhurst (Henrietta Dodd)
Nicholas Campbell (Frank Dodd)
Martin Sheen as Greg Stillson
Sean Sullivan (Herb Smith)
Jackie Burroughs (Vera Smith)
Geza Kovacs (Sonny Elliman)
Roberta Weiss (Alma Frechette)
Simon Craig (Chris Stuart)
Peter Dvorsky (Dardis)
Julie-Ann Heathwood (Amy)
Barry Flatman (Walt Bracknell)
Raffi Tchalikian (Denny 1)
Ken Pogue (Vice President)
Gordon Jocelyn (Five-Star General)
Bill Copeland (Secretary of State)

Alternative Titles

Dead Zone – Der Attentäter – Germany
Stephen Kings Dead Zone – Germany
Strefa smierci – Poland
Viimeinen yhteys: The Dead Zone – Finland
Zona de Perigo – Portugal
La zona morta – Italy
La zona muerta – Spain

The Dead Zone (2002-2007)

Extracts included in
Cat's Eye (1985)
David Cronenberg: I Have to Make the Word be Flesh (1999)
Long Live the New Flesh: The Films of David Cronenberg (1987)



  • FilmMagasinet October/November 1995 p.73 – review (by Dag Tufte)
  • New Musical Express 5 May 1984 p.24 – illustrated review (by Andy Gill)
  • Première March 1984 p.11 – review (by Marc Esposito)
  • Scream no.80 (September/October 2023) pp.22-31 – illustrated article (The films of Stephen King (1976-1999) Part One by Barry McCann)
  • Video Watchdog no.88 (October 2002) pp.4-6 – illustrated DVD review (Critical of The Dead Zone by Tim Lucas)


  • 100 American Horror Films by Barry Keith Grant pp.53-54
  • The Cinema of David Cronenberg: From Baron of Blood to Cultural Hero by Ernest Mathijs pp.2, 4-5, 8, 21, 26, 69-70, 88, 100-104, 113-128, 131, 142, 144, 154, 159-163, 172, 231, 235, 250, 255; 279
  • Cronenberg on Cronenberg by Chris Rodley (ed.) pp.43, 74, 92-93, 97, 102, 109-118, 131, 134, 147, 149, 161, 171, 149; 214-215 – illustrated notes; credits
  • David Cronenberg: Interviews with Serge Grünberg by Serge Grünberg pp.72-78; 191 – illustrated interview; credits
  • The Films of the Eighties by Robert A. Nowlan and Gwendolyn Wright Nowlan p.132 – credits, synopsis
  • Horror! 333 Films to Scare You to Death by James Marriott & Kim Newman p.241
  • Horror and Science Fiction Films III by Donald C. Willis pp.62-63
  • Horror Films of the 1980s by John Kenneth Muir pp.312-315 – credits, synopsis, review
  • Horrorshows: The A-Z of Horror in Film, TV, Radio and Theatre by Gene Wright p.9 – credits, review
  • The Modern Fantastic: The Films of David Cronenberg by Michael Grant (ed.) pp.23, 50, 56, 65, 169
  • Nuclear Movies: A Filmography by Mick Broderick p.95
  • The Pocket Essential David Cronenberg by John Costello pp.56-60 – credits, review
  • The Politics of Insects: David Cronenberg's Cinema of Confrontation by Scott Wilson pp.71, 75-87, 90, 91, 93, 94, 95, 97, 98, 104, 107, 164, 179, 184
  • Serial Killer Cinema: An Analytical Filmography by Robert Cetti pp.115-116
  • The Shape of Rage: The Films of David Cronenberg by Piers Handling (ed.) p.209-210 – credits