I think there are about a dozen “masters of horror”. We’ll all agree or disagree on who those twelve people are, but two that are definitely in there are Stephen King and David Cronenberg. Personally, I’m more a fan of King than Cronenberg. His stuff is cool, but maybe a bit too antiseptic or sterile to me. Make sense?? Maybe not - just my take.
But his direction in The Dead Zone, a 1983 film based on the best-seller (aren’t all his books best-sellers?) by King has more heart in it than his other films; save maybe The Fly. I think a lot of that has to do with the stunningly good performance by Christopher Walken. Before he became a caricature of himself, he could really temper his wilder acting tendencies and deliver the goods. Here, he does just that. You really feel for the guy. He’s going through hell while he tries to help himself and help others. And watching Martin Sheen chew up the scenery (that’s a good thing, fyi) by playing a ego-maniacal Presidential candidate, is jaw-dropping fun. It’s almost like he could see exactly thirty-four years into the future and see how our President (ugh) today acts. Makes for an extra chill! Add in the great Brooke Adams and other Canadian character actors, and you have a very realistic, supernatural thriller.
As for Dead Ringers, we recommend that because it’s Cronenberg and Irons. Never do you, as a viewer, get confused about which twin is which. And without the special effects that can be used today, Cronenberg pulls off the one actor playing two character bit perfectly. William Asher couldn’t have done it better in Bewitched! Seriously, he couldn’t. Anyway, this movie has all the trademark Cronenberg body weirdness stuff and some really super uncomfortable moments. Good God, don’t see this flick if you’re going to your Gyno appointment. Avoid at all costs! As good as Jeremy Irons is, Genevieve Bujold is tremendous. Her character kind of gets lost in Act III, which is a shame, but no matter. She adds something special to the film. Or maybe I’ve just been a fan of hers forever. Not sure. Anyway, these are classic 1980s flicks that hold up very well. You might have forgotten about them; never seen them, or never heard of them. Do check them out - you’ll love the ride. -Mark