Sometimes They Come Back (1991)


“You Always Wanted to Be Like Your Brother, Didn’t You, Jimmy?”

Main Cast: Tim Matheson, Brooke Adams

Director: Tim McLaughlin

Teacher Jim Norman (Tim Matheson, ANIMAL HOUSE) is 36 and returning home for the first time in 27 years.  When he was 9, his brother Wayne was accidentally killed by a gang of greaser punks who were in turn slaughtered when a train hit their car.  Jim doesn’t want to return to his small hometown, but he’s had some issues at his old school in Chicago and he needs the work.  His wife Sally (Brooke Adams, THE DEAD ZONE) and son Scott (Robert Hy Gorman, DON’T TELL MOM THE BABYSITTER’S DEAD) are in tow.

At first Jim sees things rarely change, and trouble making kids are still around in one form or another.  First it’s the jock, Chip, who tells Jim if he passes him and his friends, they’ll bring Jim a state championship.  Jim tells Chip to do the work and he’ll pass on his own.  That doesn’t set well with the jock, but he turns out to be the least of Jim’s problems.

One day after school, a student Jim actually likes is run down by a black car no one seems to be able to see.  The next day, a new student who looks exactly like the leader of the pack from ‘63 when Wayne was killed shows up in class.  A few days later, another student is killed.  The next day, another new student, this one also looking awfully familiar, arrives.

It doesn’t take long for Jim to understand what’s going on.  The problem faces is that he doesn’t know what he can do about it.  But he’d better figure it out, because the anniversary of all those deaths is fast approaching and the thugs want closure.

1991’s SOMETIMES THEY COME BACK, written by Lawrence Konner (STAR TREK VI: The Undiscovered Country) and Mark Rosenthal (STAR TREK VI: The Undiscovered Country) and directed by Tim McLaughlin (writer/director of JASON LIVES: FRIDAY THE 13th Part VI), was originally intended as a segment of King’s CAT’S EYE movie, but was then deemed strong enough to merit a full length treatment of its own.  Adapted from the King story of the same name, I think I agree.

SOMETIMES THEY COME BACK isn’t a great movie, but the story is definitely strong enough to stand on its own, and the end result is, while dated, entertaining.

Tim Matheson does a good job as worried Jim Norman, a man who is barely containing his rage at any given time of day, while Robert Rusler (WEIRD SCIENCE) is playing the role he was born for in head greaser Richard Lawson.

Filmed in and around Kansas City, KS, the setting seems lost in time and definitely feels trapped in the 50s or 60s, even in the “present” scenes.  This helps the small town feel and adds greatly to the effectiveness of the story.

Konner and Rosenthal took great liberties with King’s original story in adapting it to a more fully realized three-act structure and, while I think both versions are equally good, this was definitely the better version for a movie than if they’d simply filmed the NIGHT SHIFT short story version.

Overall, while not frightening, SOMETIMES THEY COME BACK has moments of greatness–and an equal number of really bad ones–but in the end, I found the movie to be very entertaining in a way I wish more movies could be.  Despite a number of hiccups, it was the plot that won me over.  This wasn’t a great job, but I thought it was pretty damn good.

King on Film

Carrie (1976)

‘Salem’s Lot (1979)

The Shining (1980)

Creepshow (1982)

The Boogeyman (1982)

Cujo (1983)

Disciples of the Crow (1983)

The Woman in the Room (1983)

The Dead Zone (1983)

Christine (1983)

Children of the Corn (1984)

Firestarter (1984)

Word Processor of the Gods (1984)

Cat’s Eye (1985)

Silver Bullet (1985)

Srazhenie (1986)

Gramma (1986)

Maximum Overdrive (1986)

Stand By Me(1986)

The Lawnmower Man (1987)

Creepshow 2 (1987)

A Return to Salem’s Lot (1987)

The Running Man (1987)

Sorry, Right Number (1987)

Pet Sematary (1989)

The Cat From Hell (1990)

The Graveyard Shift (1990)

IT (1990 Mini-Series)

Misery (1990)

The Moving Finger (1991)

The Dark Half (1993)

The Tommyknockers (1993)

Needful Things (1993)

The Stand (1994)

The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest (1995)

The Mangler (1995)

Dolores Claiborne (1995)

The Langoliers (1995)

Sometimes They Comes Back … Again (1996)

Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering (1996)

Thinner (1996)

The Shining (1997)

Ghosts (1997)

Chattery Teeth (1997)

The Revelations of ‘Becka Paulson (1997)

Trucks (1997)

The Night Flier (1997)

Chinga (1997)

Children of the Corn V: Fields of Terror (1998)

Gerald’s Game (2017)

1922 (2017)

The Stand (2021)

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