Archive for The Dead Zone


Posted in FILM, Politics with tags , on November 8, 2016 by dcairns

I’m not as certain as I’d like to be about which prospective American president is more likely to bring about the apocalypse. Trump is so personally appalling I am willing to take a leap of faith and hope that Hillary’s hawkish tendencies will be kept in check, and the same for Putin’s. But I will be nervous either way.

What a lousy choice.

Hillary, like Obama, I find personally quite appealing, despite many of the policies, so I would be quite happy to see her on the news every day for four years, whereas Trump would be unbearable. As long as we GET four years without facing annihilation.


Dead Leaves

Posted in FILM, literature, MUSIC with tags , , , , , , on November 2, 2012 by dcairns

Fiona and I love this time of year. Here’s one of the most autumnal things I know, Wayne Fitzgerald’s credits for Cronenberg’s THE DEAD ZONE with haunting music by the late Michael Kamen.

Lovely stuff. The film itself is perhaps a little overstuffed, with guest stars in every role, and it has a dash of soap opera to it, but it’s the first film Cronenberg made after VIDEODROME…

VIDEODROME, unlike its predecessors, had a really strong leading man, and marked the first time Cronenberg’s horror shifted from the biological to the psychic/psychological (SCANNERS is on the cusp, but lacks a strong lead), and the first time subjective experience became central to his storytelling. As he explains it, VIDEODROME departs from consensus reality part-way through, as James Woods gets infected by the pornographic video signal.

THE DEAD ZONE doesn’t play unreliable narrator games, but it takes us along out of normal society along with its protagonist (early Cronenbergs followed a redundant genre stereotype by positioning some useless embodiment of normality in the centre, though they were ALWAYS shoved out of the spotlight by the person with the penile armpit growth or the external womb). A very particular kind of Cronenberg lead is established with Christopher Walken — actors who play villains in other films often play heroes for this director. Walken is pretty weird and uncomfortable as Johnny Smith in the opening scenes, but fortunately he soon sinks into a coma and comes out of it five years later as the Walken we know and love.

If you’re watching it for Halloween, which I recommend, check out Walken’s reaction to the news that his psychic powers are going to kill him. He GRINS.

Walken evinces a similar unexpected response in A VIEW TO A KILL just as he realizes he’s about to fall from a helicopter to his doom. In both cases, it’s like he’s spotted the Grim Reaper looking at him and can’t help mirroring its smile.

The Dead Zone (Special Collector’s Edition)

Haskell looks out

Posted in FILM, Politics, Television, Theatre with tags , , , on October 27, 2012 by dcairns

My favourite image from THE BEST MAN. Cliff Robertson is pretty great as the vicious “man of the people” — kind of a forerunner of Martin Sheen in THE DEAD ZONE.

Cinematographer Haskell Wexler alternates between a simple, theatrical style (often shooting most of a scene from one angle, merely punching in for closeups — a television approach) with some mockumentary handheld sequences which neatly blend crowd scenes from a real Democratic convention with staged action. The beauty of the above shot might even be accidental — Robertson’s hands are pin-sharp but his face is very slightly blurred. The effect is stunning when the shot flashes up, and seems to work as analog of the character — an instinctive reactor, his hands are concrete but his mind is somewhat cloudy…