Picks and Pans Review: The Dead Zone

updated 11/07/1983 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/07/1983 AT 01:00 AM EST

Warning to horror fans: This is not the kind of blood-and-guts movie you might expect from a Stephen King story. It's enjoyable nonetheless. Christopher Walken plays a small-town school teacher who's banged up in a car accident and comes out of a coma with the ability to foretell the future. He tells his nurse that her young child will be caught in a fire; he helps the local cops solve a series of grisly rape-murders; he predicts a student will die in an ice-skating accident. So far, so good. Then Walken, who is effective as the haunted, hollow-eyed medium, latches on to another vision: He sees that a hard-driving candidate for the U.S. Congress, Martin Sheen, will someday plunge the world into a nuclear war. Should he intervene? The movie gets a little wobbly here and the plot turns seem trite. Up to then, though, it's a first-class thriller, with a sharp cast. Brooke (Cuba) Adams, absent from the screen for too long, plays Walken's girlfriend. Tom (Alien) Skerritt is the local sheriff. Colleen Dewhurst is the rapist-murderer's mother, and Herbert Lom, known to Pink Panther fans as Inspector Clouseau's hapless boss, is marvelous in a serious role as a sympathetic doctor. Director David (Videodrome) Cronenberg's sense of pace is acute, the editing by Ronald Sanders is seamless and suspenseful. And, if nothing else, the movie establishes that chills can be generated without explicit gore and violence. (R)

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