Moviemakers have been so obsessive about adapting every single item written by prolific horror author Stephen King that the very marketable King name--which almost always guarantees a good read--has come to almost always guarantee a lousy movie. If the short story "Sometimes They Come
Back" had been written by anyone else, would this network TV movie even exist?
High school instructor Jim Norman (Tim Matheson) reluctantly accepts a post in his hometown where, 30 years earlier, Jim and his brother Wayne (Chris Demetral) were bushwacked by leather-jacketed bullies. Wayne died at their hands but Jim got away, and the three guilty greasers subsequently fried
in a fiery car wreck. Jim's bad memories return when school starts and he sees a familiar leering face among his surly class--"transfer student" Richard Lawson (Robert Rusler), ringleader of the long-dead punks, who has apparently not aged a day. He's a malevolent spirit, back from the grave for
revenge against the lone surviving Norman kid, and eventually he's joined by his two undead cohorts. Snatching Jim's small son, the ghoulish gang lures Jim into a re-enactment of the original ambush. Once again, however, Wayne--himself a ghost--materializes to defend his "baby" brother against the
creeps. By swiping the keys to their hellish dragster Jim ensures that the dead dudes die again in a smashup.
This is not the worst Stephen King adaptation, which is faint praise. Much of the plot develops as a foregone conclusion, with Lawson murdering members of Jim's class one by one so the rest of the fiend's posse can take their seats, each as a "transfer student" anachronistically attired in early
1960s juvenile-delinquent fashion and attitudes (an offbeat bit of supernatural imagery). There should be a terrible inevitability to the process, but it merely seems to mark time between commercial breaks.
The solid cast can't lift the material above the routine. In fact, what truly disturbs in STEPHEN KING'S SOMETIMES THEY COME BACK is how hostile and unreachable Jim's flesh-and-blood pupils appear to be; this teacher doesn't need any more trouble! Filmed in Kansas and Missouri, the feature was one
of the final projects for writer/producer Milton Subotsky, who though born in New York made an impressive number of British horror and sci-fi pictures including TORTURE GARDEN, TALES FROM THE CRYPT, SCREAM AND SCREAM AGAIN and THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT.(Violence)
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- Released: 1991
- Rating: R
- Review: Moviemakers have been so obsessive about adapting every single item written by prolific horror author Stephen King that the very marketable King name--which almost always guarantees a good read--has come to almost always guarantee a lousy movie. If the sho… (more)