I’m not what you could call a fan of made for TV horror films. They tend to be both tame and predictable, neither of which I find preferable in a horror film. Stephen King gave a solid premise on which to base this film, I just find the execution incredibly lacking. This isn’t in any way the fault of the actors, merely the weakness forced on the story due to being both made for TV and in the early 90’s when it feels like all horror films were being butchered. I just couldn’t force myself into this film, no matter how many beers I drank or how patient I tried to be.
The film opens with Jim Norman (Tim Matheson) returns to the small town in which he grew up for a teaching job. The only one open to him after getting in trouble for being rough with students. The town is home to a violent indecent twenty-seven years earlier in which a gang of greasers led by Richard Lawson (Robert Rusler) killed his older brother Wayne Norman (Chris Demetral). Though all but a single member of the gang died shortly after by being hit by train due to being trapped on the tracks without the keys to start the car. Things get off to a rough start at the new job as Jim lacks the respect of both the students and faculty. But things get worse when student’s start to die under mysterious circumstances with only Jim being the only suspect. With each students death one of the greasers spirits return, posing as a student and tormenting Jim. Wishing to recreate the night of their deaths in order to change the order of events and let them escape from hell…
First of all this film is way too slow-paced. For a film about the vengeful dead returning from hell, a trope that couldn’t be moreover done, this one gets off to an especially slow start. A slow start that doesn’t even start to pick up until two-thirds through the films run time. I could forgive this if the slow time was well spent developing… well pretty much anything. But it doesn’t, Sometimes They Come Back seems to just dawdle and takes its sweet time.
The acting on the other hand is well done. Carried mostly by Tim Matheson, who I recognize from multiple roles. Though can only place him in The Hart of Dixie. The rest of the actors mostly support him, never really shinning. Due mostly to never having a real chance to do so. But the sleeper in this film has to be William Sanderson, who I loved in True Blood and Dead Wood. Both times he delivers memorable and last performances and I’m happy to see that just the quality he brings to the screen.
The special effects are actually a lot better than I expected from a horror film made for TV in the early 90’s. This is mostly with the dead greasers in the few shots where they’re shown dead and rotting. As it’s these images that provide the only linger effects of dread.
Final thoughts, as fan of King adaptations even if I do rag on them, this film was particularly hard to get through. The main thing I love about King is I don’t find him all that predictable. While in honesty he never chills my blood, he always provides a solid story. Here that story feels cheated, if not robbed. What’s an amazing premise, becomes a watered down mess. Ok, mess might be extreme. But it’s certainly not what it could have been. 4/10