Sometimes They Come Back - DVD Review

'it's one thing to just focus on the schlock, it's entirely another to focus on the cheese'

The diabolical Sometimes They Come Back is part of an interesting little sub-genre of horror known as, 'the shit Stephen King adaptations'. If you're a member of film-orientated social media site, Letterboxd then you can see a list of all these oddities, and the more well known King adaptations, curated by Scott Weinberg, but if you're not then allow me to point you in the direction of 1990's Graveyard Shift, 1992's Sleepwalkers or 1995's The Mangler, to mention but a few.

This effort, from director Tom McLoughlin, which came about in 1991 as a made-for-TV film based on a King short story of the same name, is a prime example of the genre.

The problem with King usually is that, if you don't get down to the nuance of his writing, then what you end up with is just empty and bottomless schlock, base horror with icky bits and not a whole lot else. Perversely, that isn't really Sometimes They Come Back's problem. McLoughlin does actually manage to get to the background behind the horror - in this case the guilt felt by protagonist Jim (Tim Matheson) over the death of his brother and those who assaulted him - but then presents it in the most unimaginably cringe-worthy way possible. Untold number of scenes of Jim and brother Wayne (Chris Demetral) practically skipping hand-in-hand through fields of gold are included, eventually climaxing in a horrible finale whose misjudgements are numerous and vomit-inducing. It's one thing to just focus on the schlock, it's entirely another to focus on the cheese.

The secondary problem is that, this being a made-for-TV film, you don't get the right level of schlock either to pin your hopes against. The villains are threatless and spend far too much time acting like a pack of laughing hyenas (interestingly, and adding to the cheese, McLoughlin actually overlays animal noises whenever they're around), leaving the portent of evil as a black and red car, a la Duel, in many ways, but without the menace.

Star Matheson is flat and motionless throughout, looking distractingly like a rent-a-Jeff Bridges and the bungled screenplay by Lawrence Konner and Mark Rosenthal ends up having to introduce another character far too far into the film for the whole thing to make sense.

Arrives on DVD for the first time in the UK next week. Shouldn't have come back.




Sometimes They Come Back is out in the UK on DVD from 9th April 2012.

Look further...

'back then, anything with King's name on it was somehow perceived as cinematic platinum, despite the fact that the movies usually stunk like butt. This one is no exception' - efilmcritic, 2/5

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