Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Sometimes They Come Back

Sometimes They Come Back (1991)

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A high school teacher (Tim Matheson) returns to the town where, as a child, he watched his brother get killed by greasers, and the greasers get run over by a train. Twenty seven years later and the greasers are back from the dead and thirsty for revenge. For some reason, they want revenge on the man and not the train, go figure. There's also something about how they have to recreate the events that lead to their death or else they'll go to hell or whatever.

This is based on one of Stephen King's less good stories and is even less good as a movie. The premise is interesting, and the whole thing about how the greasers have to kill a person in order to bring the next member of their crew back from the dead (they do so by killing buddy's students one by one and repopulating his classroom) is a good idea although it does beg the question of how the first one managed to come back. They sort of toy with the "maybe he's just going crazy" idea, although they didn't really commit to it that well, and the "I transferred up from Milford" thing is neat.

Plus I don't care what anybody else says, undead killer greasers are fun to watch. They have all the upsides of regular killer greasers without the drawback of themselves being killable. Plus they've got a sweet car. That being said, apart from being greasers, the angry dead in this movie are (much like the movie itself) really nothing special.

This movie is pretty much just a boring version of Pet Sematary. Like, if you thought that Pet Sematary was a good idea but the reanimated kid killing his parents was too deviant for you to handle, this is the movie for you. For the rest of us, though, it's just a run of the mill undead revenge movie where nothing interesting or frightening happens. Plus there's a nice dollop of weird christian bullshit to remind us all that while the dead are coming out of their graves and walking around, there is still a heaven and a hell and presumably a god who works in mysterious ways and what-not.

Furthermore, the ending turns the whole movie into a really obnoxious metaphor for grief. Spoilers lie ahead (although you can pretty much figure out everything that's going to happen in this movie within the first twenty minutes), but in the ending the guy manages to resurrect his dead brother to help him send the greasers to hell - putting his guilt over his brother's death where it belongs. The brother then asks buddy to come to Heaven with him, and buddy tells him basically "I can't because I have to stay here with my family but I'll always have you in my heart" or some other lame ass shit, thereby letting go of his grief and allowing him to move forward with his family rather than living in the past with his brother.

If there's one thing that turns my stomach it's when movies turn sadness into a tangible thing you can fight, because I always feel like I'm supposed to be learning something from it. Like, ohhhh, I'm supposed to fight my personal demons, jeez, why didn't I think of that. Fuck off.

Another thing that bothered me was the mechanics of the movie. As I mentioned before, how the first greaser managed to resurrect himself is still a mystery, although I like to think that the car was responsible. But also, like, why was all of this happening? I get that the teacher went back to his hometown and that made the greasers come back, okay, that makes sense to me. But why can't he just leave? His wife goes so far as to ask that in the movie and he's all like, "no, they'll find me wherever I go". But will they really? How will that stop them from going to hell? Because he has to face his grief.

This is a run of the mill Lesson movies, but the only lessons I learned from it are that if people try to rob you, you should just give them your money coz they might kill you, and that you should never park your car on a railroad track, both of which are things that I could have figured out on my own.


Directed by: Tom McLoughlin.  Written by: Lawrence Konner, Mark Rosenthal, based on a short story by Stephen King.  Starring: Tim Matheson, Brooke Adams, Robert Rusler, Robert Hy Gorman, William Sanderson.

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