|Written during "a depressed state of mind," according to SK.|
This is a quirky little novel. I don't use quirky condescendingly. It's just a bit odd, both in how it stands out from King's other books and how the plot unfolds from other would-you-kill-Hitler narratives.
|Why doesn't anyone ever go back in time to kill Stalin? I've always wondered that.|
The epilogue ("Notes from the Dead Zone") and the way the sections fit together/ unfold... the character arc of "John Smith..." It almost seems like a strange version of Don DeLilo's Libra, but I'm sure that's not what he was going for. Interesting, though, that the two ideas, there, kind of converge later in 11/23/61, but I'll get to that way later.
(I'll get to my Castle Rock thoughts, later, too, and the lasting impact of Frank Dodd et al. when I see the exits for The Dark Half and Needful Things.)
I was reminded both of Duma Key and of On Writing, both which came much later in King's career, of course. But the accident and physical recovery section of TDZ brought to mind the similar section in OW, and the first two acts of TDZ brought DK to mind: accident, severed relationship, psychic ability, used on serial killer, and ... then the two novels diverge, but you see what I mean.
If you haven't read it or seen the movie or the tv show, you're probably still familiar with the essential elements of the story. Like a lot of King's work from this period (Cujo, Christine, Pennywise, The Stand, Redrum, Carrie White Burns in Hell, etc.) the core ideas have taken enduring root in the collective unconsciousness.
|Once it's on The Simpsons, it can be considered as belonging to all of us.|
King has said that he likes the movie better, and I agree. The changes in the material that the conversion process necessitate definitely work to the story's advantage. The relationship between Sarah and John is more romantically-doomed as it stands in the film, as is the undoing-of-and-apocalyptic-visions-pertaining-to-Stillson scene(s). I think the book is good, don't get me wrong. I just like the way the film handles the elements better.
|I suppose it's not that uncommon a practice, but I like how the same font design is used for both the book and the international markets for the film.|
That tunnel by the way - which I remember as the main picture that ran with the Fangoria article I read (it might have been Starlog, but that seems wrong - I don't remember clearly) at the time it came out - is called Screaming Tunnel:
|Creepy first date...! Creepy any date, maybe.|
There's a good review of the film here. Simply put, it's a great film. I don't think "masterpiece" would be unfairly applied. It always seems to be the undiscovered Cronenberg film or King-adaptation film for a lot of people. I don't know why that is. Christopher Walken and David Cronenberg are certainly well known enough. Yet it rarely pops up as the number one King adaptation, or on a short list of Cronenberg's best. (Or, hell, best of the 80s, for that matter.)
This title design is just such a treat. What a way to set the mood. If you haven't watched the movie in awhile, watch those credits again; hell, if you haven't seen the movie at all, watch it, too. It works as a trailer, granted a murky one. The score by Michael Kamen is haunting and used to great effect, particularly the music cues for Sarah.
And of course there's this:
I grew up watching The Dead Zone and even as I discovered the rest of both his and Cronenberg's catalogs, Walken's portrayal of Johnny Smith has remained a Katahdin among Appalachians.
Odd fact I came across while googling for this entry: Bill Murray was considered for the role before Walken.
|Martin Sheen's portrayal of Greg Stillson is great, as well. Another role (like Firestarter) where it's fun to think of this as some bizarro previous-work-experience on President Bartlett's cv.|
I did enjoy the evolution of Stillson's career in the novel, as well as the friendlier relationship he had with Chuck's family, both of which are changed considerably for the film.
I'm always amused when we cut to a scene where the President has his finger on the button vs. a boardroom in the middle of the night with a bunch of bankers flown in straight out of the movie Margin Call...
|The wolf is loose...|
Sheriff Bannerman is played here by Evan Drake from Cheers aka Viper from Top Gun (like he'd be Viper from anything else) aka Tom Preston from The Devil's Rain:
Bannerman pops up or is referenced in several of the Castle Rock stories. Not to mention the Dead Zone tv show, where he's combined with Walt Hazlett and George Bannerman to create Walt Bannerman. Whew. Anyway. Cujo eats him, eventually. So it goes.
Chuck's Dad, Roger, is played by Anthony Zerbe aka that-one-guy-from-Insurrection, not to mention
|The Omega Man:|
|Which, now that I think about it...|
|is another film where a cult leader must be put down with a rifle via heroic self-sacrifice. (And look at that outfit! Not to make this a review of The Omega Man, but man, that movie.)|
Two quick words on the Frank Dodd serial killer sequence: 1) my friend and I have the same lingering-audio-OCD-ness from this film. Anytime we see a gazebo, we say, either out loud or in our heads, "gaa-zee-booh." Try it - you may never stop. And b) now that I think about it, I think it was Fangoria...
|and not Starlog. The twitching in the tub was a real fine touch for me. It made the difference to me in the 6th grade and still does today.|
As for the tv show, I know many people who enjoy it. I watched the first two episodes to see how they'd handle the origin story and the Frank Dodd bit. I can see it being a fun show. I know they deal with the Stillson stuff as an ongoing subplot. Characters are added or, as aforementioned, fused. I prefer the way the film handles the material, so some of those changes are hard to roll with. But, what I saw wasn't bad, just not my thing.
One thing I noticed in there, though - the fictional 3rd district of New Hampshire was changed to the 2nd district of Maine. Which is an actual district. This district encompasses (I think) the fictional towns of both Derry and Castle Rock.
Has King ever introduced a congressional character from that district? There could be a whole new novel in that. I hope the idea has occurred to him.
|I guess not every adaptation keeps the font design.|