If you could go back to a time before Hitler was in power, knowing what you know now, what would you do?

ImageStephen King’s The Dead Zone puts this question in the mouth of John (played by Christopher Walken). He is a man with the power to see the future (and the past, and the present) as it affects the life of the person he is touching. This power came to him inexplicably after awakening from a five-year coma.

He doesn’t understand his power and sees it as a curse that causes him physical pain in proportion to the vision he sees. Soon, he is approached by the sheriff, who tells him ‘God has seen fit to bless you with this gift,’ and asks for his help in solving a murder.    

But this is not how John sees it, ‘Bless me?!’ No. This is no blessing, it is a curse and he wants nothing but to hide his power away and get rid of it. However later, he reconsiders, after a news report personalizes the murder in his eyes.

 What would such a power be? A gift?  A curse? Is this like Midas’ touch, leaving him afraid to touch anyone for the rest of his days?

His doctor offers to take him back to his clinic to try to cure him, but this option doesn’t attract him either.

As the story unfolds, we see several questions, the first is stated above, ‘is this a blessing or a curse?’ The next hinges on time and our perception of it.

During his coma, John’s girlfriend let him go (despite still loving him) and started her life anew with another man. To him, he feels like his accident was last night, to his girlfriend, five years of real time have passed since the accident, and she has married and had a son. We’re left to wrestle with this ourselves though as this is more a device than a major theme. But what is time? How does it interact with out minds? Here, time is relative. Five years is nothing to John, but a lifetime to Sarah, his girlfriend.

ImageJust as his feelings for Sarah before the accident are fresh in his mind, so too is his recollection of assigning Sleepy Hollow to his class to read. John compares himself to Ichabod: a loner with no one in his life. As he was, ‘a bachelor, and in nobody’s debt, nobody troubled his head any more about him’

Through the next several visions John learns that the future is not set in stone, there is a dead zone, where change can be admitted.

And we are back to the introductory question. ‘What would you do?’

 His doctor answers, ‘I would have no choice. I would kill the sonofabitch.’


Imdb gives The Dead Zone 7.3/10  , rotten tomatoes gives it   89%.

I think this film is a rare thing in pop culture… cerebral. As such, I favor the higher rating. Besides, it has nice, slow pacing. Something that I think gives a film a lot of power.

4 down. 96 left.


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