Sometimes They Come Back DVD Review
Written by Steve Pattee
DVD released by MGM
Nice shooting, Jimbo. But you can't kill what's already dead. – Richard
Directed by Tom McLoughlin
Written by Lawrence Konner and Mark Resenthal based on Stephen King's short story
1991, Region 1 (NTSC) 98 minutes, Rated R
DVD released September 11th, 2007
Tim Matheson as Jim Norman
Brooke Adams as Sally Norman
Robert Rusler as Richard Lawson
Chris Demetral as Wayne Norman
Robert Hy Gorman as Scott Norman
William Sanderson as Carl Mueller
Few things are as sad as realizing a movie you enjoyed as a youth doesn't hold up when you rewatch it as an adult. And it's worse when it doesn't even come close. After watching Sometimes They Come Back, I kind of wish they hadn't.
Starring Tim Matheson as Jim Norman, a man who returns to his hometown after 30 years only to find the demons he thought he left behind are still hanging about town waiting for him, the movie should have aged more gracefully. It has a competent cast and decent short story as a backbone, but, unfortunately, it's a film that slowly gets worse as time goes on.
The demons, in this case, are a group of dead high school thugs who blame Jim for their deaths. Three decades previous, the hooligans were jacking Jim and his older brother in a train tunnel, when the train came unexpectedly. In an effort to get away, the punks jumped in their car, only to find the keys were nowhere to be found. Seems Jim had them in his hand. Train hits car, car loses, boys die. The punks are killing kids and taking their now-empty seats the next day. This, of course, effectively starts freaking Jim out.
Good start, right? But you have to put it in perspective. While it's been 30 years, the thugs are the same age, and wearing the same clothes, as the day they died — sometime in the late '50s, early '60s. So, basically, it's the greasers from The Outsiders coming back to make Jim pay for what he did. Instead of Patrick Swayze, this greaser gang is lead by Richard Lawson (Robert Rusler, who, ironically, was in The Outsiders), and Rusler does a fine job with what he's given, but what he's given isn't that good. Really, is there anything scary about some dime-store hood from the '50s? I think not — at least not in this scenario. I was expecting two things to happen: Either the boys were going to go on a mission to find Ponyboy and Johnny, or they were going to break out in song and dance ala West Side Story. It got to a point where either would have been welcome.
A bigger travesty, though, is the complete underuse of Nicholas Sadler. Sadler, who plays Lawson's right hand man, Vinnie Vincent, is the only thing in the film that will give any sort of fear. He plays the character beyond creepy, and is the perfect sidekick to any back-from-the-dead demon, greaser or not. Unfortunately, he's not on screen nearly as much as he should be. Maybe, instead of having Jim take a flashback every ten minutes to remember some of the goodtime with his brother, they should have given Vincent some more lines to up the creepy factor in this flick.
But there're more problems with Back than the lack of Vincent. Like gaping plotholes. How it is that everyone can see the gang in school, but when they run down someone in their car, nobody sees a thing? I'm all for the suspension of disbelief, but it becomes ridiculous.
Sometimes They Come Back was based on a short story, and it shows, as the plot is stretched paper thin. As competent as the actors were, even they couldn't save the movie from its inadequate script.
Video and Audio:
I'm fairly certain this was originally made for TV, but MGM presents Back here with an anamorphic 2.35:1 transfer. The picture is mediocre, at best. The blacks are suitably dark, but the colors are bland, the picture soft and there is grain throughout.
The Dolby Digital stereo soundtrack is adequate, and it gets it done. I never had the need to adjust the volume, and there were no noticeable problems with the sound.
Spanish mono and English, French and Spanish subtitles are also available.
None. Nothing. Nada.
Not even a damn trailer.
Only the very hardcore Stephen King movie completists should pick this up. Skip the rental, and, maybe, catch it on TV if it's a slow night.