“Sometimes They Come Back” is a great little ghost story by Stephen King. It’s cool that it was made into a television movie in 1991. Then there was a sequel in 1996. Then another sequel in 1998. Oh brother. Here we go….
SOMETIMES THEY COME BACK (1991)
I actually really like the original adaptation of King’s short story. It celebrates the bad fashion period of the 1990-1991 era. It has a great, genuine autumn atmosphere. It has one of my boyhood crushes, Tim Matheson. It has the ever-hot Grady from Elm Street 2. And it tells a pretty creepy ghost story.
Matheson moves back to his hometown with his wife (played by horror veteran Brooke Adams) and young son. When Matheson was a child, he watched his brother get killed at the hands of a bunch of leather punks—who then got hit by a train in a train tunnel. Now Matheson is a teacher, and his students start dying off…to be replaced by leather punks who are terrifyingly familiar.
This eerie little tale is enhanced with a few horror moments in which the vengeful gang of ghosts goes all freaky zombie. There’s also an incredibly tense and scary scene involving Brooke Adams in her kitchen. Unfortunately, since the movie was made for television, King’s ending was changed, and what we get is a sort of sappy Ghost ending.
SOMETIMES THEY COME BACK AGAIN (1996)
Sometimes they just remake a movie, change a few elements, and call it a sequel. This time, Michael Gross of Family Ties returns to his hometown with his daughter Hilary Swank after his mother dies. He soon begins to remember the leather punks who killed his sister when he was a child and then died—in a mine tunnel.
Alexis Arquette is the lead punk and really shows his amazing ability to play a tough guy when he’s not living his life as a woman. He’s great in this film. He starts dating Hilary and Michael Gross freaks out. Also in the film is Jan Brady from The Brady Bunch Movie. SO 90s.
Like really 90s. Sometimes They Come Back Again starts dark and serious and then all of a sudden, Alexis Arquette begins spouting one-liners that would make Dr. Giggles envious. It’s pretty jarring, but then you kind of go with it because it’s 90s horror. There are some gory kills, some bad special effects, and demons on par with something out of the campy Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV show. But hey. It was the 90s.
Ironically, the film’s conclusion borrows from the original Stephen King story, using what was changed in the first movie. But the best scenes include Hilary Swank sexing it up with a tentacled demon…and a death by Tarot cards. There are also boobs for the straight guys, and a cute man butt for the rest of us.
SOMETIMES THEY COME BACK…FOR MORE (1998)
Sometimes they don’t know when to stop. It amazes me that it says “based on the characters created by Stephen King” at the beginning of this movie. It’s not based on anything Stephen King wrote, really. There’s one moment when the lead character sees a pentagram drawn on a map with two names—the two main characters from the first two films. No other attempt is made to explain the connection to Stephen King’s story or the previous movies.
See, Sometimes They Come Back…For More takes place in a research facility in Antarctica. The lead character is this very recognizable goofy dude from 80s movies like Just One of the Guys and Modern Girls. DAMN did he mature well. He looks SO HOT in this movie.
The film also stars that Faith Ford chick from the Kelly Ripa sitcom Hope and Faith.
I’d guess the producers wanted to make a movie sort of like Carpenter’s The Thing, only with zombie demons, and the film company decided they could force it into the STCB franchise. These zombie demon things squeal like pigs when they get hurt, our leading man imagines belly dancers, and Faith Ford, who like just met him, uses the magic “I Love You” words against the demon at the end and I literally burst out laughing.
The film tries to go big. There’s army involvement (which immediately ruins a horror movie), there are rituals, there are thousand year old demonic plots, there are brotherly brawls, and at the last second, they throw in a long-assed shot of boobs. And it all comes back to the first film with a really hokey Ghost ending.
Here’s hoping they never come back again.