Best Stephen King Adaptation?

Scream Factory has put out a brilliant and long overdue Collector’s Edition for David Cronenberg’s The Dead Zone with a new 4K film transfer from the original camera negative and plenty of special features.

Based on the novel by Stephen King, the 1983 thriller Dead Zone memorably stars Christopher Walken as a man who begins seeing prophetic visions of the future. The cast includes Brooke Adams, Tom Skerritt, Herbert Lom, and Martin Sheen. Brooke Adams plays the love interest and demonstrates excellent chemistry with Walken’s off-beat protagonist. Martin Sheen has an interesting turn as a sinister and secretly unhinged candidate for the U.S. Senate with presidential ambitions.

Scream Factory has put out a brilliant and long overdue Collector’s Edition for David Cronenberg’s The Dead Zone

Coming off cult hits Scanners and the masterful Videodrome, director David Cronenberg crafts one of the best Stephen King adaptations to ever hit the silver screen. The eccentric but gifted auteur has rarely been better than this harrowing masterpiece. The wonderful screenplay from Jeffrey Boam captures the nuances of Stephen King’s classic novel while succinctly streamlining its fundamental story. More than a horror movie, it’s a tragic love story tinged with sadness and regret.

An unnerving supernatural thriller that weaves its fantastical premise with the heavy burden of knowing his dark future around the corner, Walken’s Johnny Smith is an instantly relatable character. He’s a man that simply wants his old life back and can’t have it.

Left frail by his injuries and a five-year coma, Johnny’s new psychic ability is more of a curse than a gift. Would you kill Hitler if you knew his atrocities before they happened? The Dead Zone delicately explores those implications with chills and emotionally resonant terror.

Read our earlier Dead Zone review for the disc released last year as part of Paramount’s 5-Movie Stephen King Collection.

Video

Scream Factory licenses a stunning new 4K film transfer from Paramount which makes this new collector’s edition absolutely essential for fans. The 2021 film scan breathes new life into Cronenberg’s 1983 haunting movie. The leap in picture quality is astounding.

It’s the number one reason why video quality-minded fans who already own The Dead Zone should shell out for Scream Factory’s collector’s edition. Horror from the 1980s has rarely received such stellar work with a smooth color grading that retains the movie’s organic appearance. The depth and definition from the 35mm elements pop like crazy, something I never thought I’d say after owning the awful and dull-looking original DVD for so many years.

Struck from the original camera negative without undue processing and heavy-duty AVC encoding parameters, it absolutely destroys the dated transfer Paramount themselves released last year on Blu-ray. The 1.85:1 film-like presentation has outstanding clarity, crisp black levels, a steady and rich contrast, and unfiltered texture oozing detail. It’s safe to say this is by far the best The Dead Zone has ever looked on home video.

Paramount has struck a 4K master ready and waiting for UHD. The meticulous and nigh pristine scan, with its lush colors and faithful grain reproduction, is begging for UHD. If Scream Factory isn’t interested, another label should license this transfer pronto on UHD.

Audio

The 1983 horror thriller comes with a decent 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack that doesn’t sound dated in most regards. The soundstage collapses a bit as expected for most dialogue-driven scenes but Michael Kamen’s striking and moody score comes off nicely. It’s not an overwhelming tour de force but the active audio definitely expands far beyond a stereo soundstage.

Bass response is hefty in spurts and a few scenes provide pizzazz with more directionality and discrete mixing. Johnny’s vision of World War II offers a chance for the surround mix to take the spotlight. Solid dynamics and plainly intelligible dialogue drive the soundtrack.

Optional English SDH subtitles play in a white font. A passable stereo mix is included in 2.0 DTS-HD MA, though it’s a far less discrete affair than the stronger surround presentation.

Extras

Scream Factory comes up with something special for this loaded collector’s edition of David Cronenberg’s The Dead Zone. Plan to take a few hours watching all the features. How does four new audio commentaries focusing on different aspects and a new interview with lead actress Brooke Adams sound, while also pulling over all the older featurettes from Paramount’s 2006 collector’s edition DVD? Any of the featurettes found in SD quality below are from that DVD.

Pre-orders on Shout’s own website initially included a limited edition 18” by 24” poster, but those are already sold out. Reversible interior cover art and a slipcover are part of this Scream Factory release, practically standard on the cult horror label’s collector’s editions.

There’s absolutely zero reason to keep the barebones and decidedly poor Blu-ray release from Paramount as part of the 5-Movie Stephen King Collection, unless region coding is an issue. Scream Factory locks their disc to Region A. Every prior home video version pales in steep comparison to this fantastic Scream Factory C.E. on Blu-ray.

It should be mentioned that Australian label Imprint has their own collector’s edition coming with different special features, though their disc will only feature a new 2K film scan. The calling card of this Scream Factory disc is a gorgeous 4K film transfer from the original camera negative.

Audio Commentary From director of photography Mark Irwin – Michael Felsher “hosts” this commentary but Irwin vividly reminisces on his memories working behind the scenes. It’s an engaging, informative discussion carried by Irwin.

Audio Commentary with film historian Michael Gingold – Gingold knows his stuff in this commentary that often discusses deviations in the screenplay from Stephen King’s novel.

Audio Commentary with film historian/author Dr. Steve Haberman and filmmaker/film historian Constantine Nasr – An insightful, well-researched joint commentary from two men with a lot of experience making commentaries.

Audio Commentary with film music historian Daniel Schweiger and isolated score selections – A discussion of composer Michael Kamen’s memorable score with some isolated snippets occasionally playing.

Sarah’s Story: New Interview With Actress Brooke Adams (10:37 in HD) – A really interesting chat that sees the actress discussing her time with co-star Christopher Walken, how she got the part, and feelings on the movie and her character.

Cold Visions: Producing The Dead Zone (20:32 in HD) – A new featurette that extensively interviews production manager John M. Eckert and associate producer Jeffrey Chernov. The men recall working on the film with fairly in-depth memories and interesting anecdotes.

Trailers from Hell – Mick Garris on The Dead Zone (02:11 in HD) – The well-known director of several different Stephen King adaptations gives brief thoughts on the film.

Memories from The Dead Zone (12:19 in SD)

The Look of The Dead Zone (09:25 in SD)

Visions And Horror From The Dead Zone (09:44 in SD)

The Politics of The Dead Zone (11:34 in SD)

The Dead Zone Theatrical Trailer (02:16 in HD)

TV Spots (01:05 in SD)

Behind the Scenes Still Gallery (13:10 in HD)

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

The Dead Zone: Collector's Edition
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
5

Movie

David Cronenberg’s compelling supernatural thriller weaves a wonderful Christopher Walken performance with a superb screenplay, neatly adapting Stephen King’s classic novel.

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User Review
5 (1 vote)

The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 42 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots grabbed directly from the Blu-ray: