Tag Archives: 1983

Review of The Dead Zone (1983)

7 Feb

dead_zone_xlgThe Dead Zone (1983) is a thriller/fantasy/horror film, which is based on the novel of the same name by Stephen King.

Directed by David Cronenberg (Shivers (1975), Cosmopolis (2012)).

Written by Jeffrey Boam (Straight Time (1978), The Phantom (1996)).

Starring: Christopher Walken, Brooke Adams, Tom Skerrit, Martin Sheen, Herbert Lom, Sean Sullivan, Anthony Zerbe and others.

So here’s another one of the four thousand movies based on a Stephen King novel. When I watched the film I had just finished reading the book and my interest level for it couldn’t be higher. So it was hard avoiding comparisons, which is both good and bad as it always is when you’re watching adaptations of literary works you’ve read.

A young Christopher Walken plays the protagonist John Smith, who in the novel is a very normal guy, which is something you can’t say about any character played by Walken ever. He doesn’t look as sinister as when he got older, but his speech pattern alone makes him a more odd and arguably interesting character to follow. Yes, he might be miscast, but I never complain about seeing Christopher Walken in a movie, because he as always gives an excellent performance.


I can’t tell you how much I love this clip.

The story concerns an English teacher who gets into an accident, goes into a coma and then wakes up with a psychic ability. Of course this is half the book, because King likes to set up every character and its mother before something starts happening, here it is all the first act. A lot of character lack the depth, but you can’t do that in a movie and have a sensible running time.

They change around the way the accident happens and other details to shortcut between the main plot points and I have to admit that mostly they do a good job, since it would really slow the movie down, had they left all the extraneous shit in. Where I wished they had spent a little more time is the exposition, because it feels rushed and establishes neither the relationship John had before the accident or the lengthy period he spent in coma very well.

One aspect, which I wish they had included as it was, is the implications on the moral level, with Johnny’s mother’s obsession with god and insistence on Johnny being on a mission from god. They do allude to this, but the connection with his mother is left out. But at least the theme of Johnny being a messianic character still clearly shines through.

The movie builds suspense pretty well and it is basically a supernatural thriller and not really a horror movie. One of the best aspects is how the movie moves past the supernatural element, because it is important only as a set-up and for the plot points, which themselves illustrate. Also the plot is polished and structured better and with more sense. For example a section of the book which was just a serial killer murder mystery out of the blue, here doesn’t get so much attention and just advances Johnny’s character, is cool and moves on.

Another performance worthy of notice is Martin Sheen as a two-faced politician, who has a big ominous role in the future of the world. He is great and unlike Walken is perfectly cast as this despicable character.

From the direction stand point, it is a bit cold and detached, doesn’t seem David Cronenberg really was all that into making this movie, since there’s very little of his signature style.

Overall, definitely one of the better Stephen King adaptations, both in quality and faithfulness. I really liked it. Recommended.

"Who wants. To LEARN some English? Today..."

“Who wants. To LEARN some English? Today…”

Review of Sudden Impact (1983)

7 May

Sudden Impact (1983) is a thriller/action/crime film and the fourth film in the Dirty Harry film series.

Directed by Clint Eastwood (Play Misty for Me (1971), J. Edgar (2011)).

Written by Joseph Stinson (City Heat (1984), Stick (1985)), Earl E. Smith (The Shadow of Chikara (1977), The Town That Dreaded Sundown (1976)) and Charles B. Pierce (The Barbaric Beast of Boggy Creek, Part II (1985), Bootleggers (1974)).

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Sondra Locke, Pat Hingle, Jack Thibeau, Wendell Wellman, Bette Ford and others.

Harry is back! And he’s starting to look kind of old. But the great thing about Eastwood is that the older he gets, he also seems to use the time to figure out alternative ways to kick your ass, so even now when he’s over 80, he looks like the most intimidating almost dead guy on earth.

This is the only Dirty Harry movie directed by Eastwood, but this is no Million Dollar Baby or Gran Torino, no tears are supposed to be shed during this. Only blood, sweat and bullets. This is also the one, which made the phrase „Go ahead… make my day!” a staple of pop-culture. Rarely the fourth movie in a series is the one to leave a big impact. But this was also the highest grossing Dirty Harry movie, which in combination with a deal that gave Eastwood a big cut from the profits, assured his wealth for a bit more.

We are reminded of Harry Callahan’s awesomeness by being shown how he stops at least five people robbing one little cafe for some reason. The waitress gives Harry a clue about something going on by pouring like a pound of sugar in his coffee in front of the robbers. Real subtle.

When Harry is done with that, he goes into a restaurant, threatens a guy and unsurprisingly gives him a heart-attack. After pulling his usual stunts (they never learn, do they?), he is sent on a vacation. What do you think Harry’s vacations are like? Of course, it’s just him going out-of-town and practicing target shooting.

Only in this movie I really started questioning Harry Callahan’s existence. I know he’s only a character, but I thought he could be based on some bad-ass real-life cop (he is kind of based on Dave Toschi), yet when I saw him get „suspended” for god knows which time, I started thinking. Would really a guy who has killed 45 people (that’s just on-screen) be allowed to keep going around with a handgun equivalent of a cannon and a police badge? In real life? I hope not. In movies? Hell, yes!

I actually liked a lot how this point was accented. Harry’s boss says that he’s staying the same in a new world, a bad guy in the restaurant says the same and when he’s chasing a robber in a bus full of old people, they cheer him on, it is funny and also serves to make a point.

This time Harry doesn’t even get a partner. Not surprising with how he keeps going through them like… something you dispose of every few years and never mention again… oh, I know, like toilet brushes. Also Harry gets a dog and for some reason in most movies they don’t give a shit if the doubles trained for other things look different. That might work in some trash for kids like Air Bud or Beethoven movies, but here it wasn’t so easy to not notice the dog changing genders.

We also get an interesting opposition. Harry, the embodiment of manhood is trying to find a woman who shoots men in their genitals. Similarly to Magnum Force, this genital-shooter Harry’s going after, isn’t really doing something wrong by Harry’s moral standards. Sudden Impact feels like a revenge thriller, where the revenger (probably not an actual word) isn’t the protagonist.

Wendell Wellman is an interesting actor I haven’t seen before. He has only two scenes and in one of them he talked a bit like Heath Ledger’s Joker. A very intriguing performance, I’ll have to check out his other… five movies.

Towards the end there’s this scene in a fair at night. Harry is coming towards the camera and you only see a silhouette, which is holding… a stick? No it’s a fucking huge gun! And that is seriously the best shot in the whole series, when something is recognizable just in silhouette, you know it’s a pop-culture icon. Though, about the gun, I don’t know why, but they decided that at one point Harry should exchange his .44 Magnum revolver for the less cool looking semi-automatic .44 AutoMag. I guess it’s Harry keeping up with the times.

Overall, mostly entertaining, better than The Enforcer, worse than Dirty Harry and Magnum Force. Recommended.

“Hey, you want to know what is my hobby? It’s kinda funny actually.”
“Go ahead… make my day.”
“I secretly kill men by shooting them in the balls.”
“This is so not what I expected to hear.”