When someone mentions movies based on Stephen King’s books, most of you will instantly think of ‘The Shining’, or ‘The Green Mile’, which is just fine. Those are some great movies, which ultimately turned out to be some very successful crowd-pleasers as well. Who am I to dispute with someone’s taste anyway? Nevertheless, that never stopped me from stating my opinion, so hold tight, because here it comes…
Ever since 1976 when ‘Carrie’ came out and screamed at the cinema audiences for the first time, the list of adaptations of Stephen King’s works just kept getting longer and longer. We’ve all seen those major ones like ‘Cujo’ (1983), ‘Pet Sematary’ (1989), ‘Shawshank Redemption’ (1994), and I’ve already mentioned ‘The Shining’ (1980), and ‘The Green Mile’ (1999). I know some of you are out there cussing right now because I haven’t mentioned your favorites. Well, I have only this much space people, so have your med’s and chill, please.
Some of these movies were terrific single hits like ‘Misery’ (1990), or ‘The Mist’ (2007), others were less successful like ‘Dreamcatcher’ (2003) or more recent ‘Dark Tower’ (2017). Some became cult movie franchises like ‘Children of the Corn’ (1984) or made it from TV mini-series to movies like ‘IT’ (1990, 2017). All of these have one thing in common, they are not my favorite Stephen King adaptation.
In the early 90’s, when I was still a little kid who believed in closet-monsters and “Freddies from the attic” (we’ll talk about my childhood neurosis some other time), there was a video-club in my neighborhood called Pixie. Maaan, that was a Needful Things store if I ever saw one! I loved that dusty place, and a fat guy behind the counter just gave it that special “je ne sais quoi” that made it all that more unforgettable. Every Friday evening, after I finished my homework I would hop on my bike and ride down the street to rent a new movie at Pixie’s. It was always a new movie you see, until that one sunny Friday when I rented – ‘Sometimes They Come Back’. That was the first movie I’ve watched twice…and three times…and more. That was the movie that ultimately marked my childhood and started my never-ending love for the horror genre.
‘Sometimes They Come Back’ is a 1990 TV movie, based on a Stephen King’s short story of the same title and directed by Tom McLoughlin. Originally written for a magazine in 1974, the story was later included in King’s 1978 Night Shift collection. It was taken into considerations to be a segment for the film Stephen King’s ‘Cat’s Eye, but famous late producer Dino De Laurentiis recognized a great quality of the story, made it into an independent feature instead, and gave me a childhood memory to cherish and write this article about.
‘Sometimes They Come Back’ follows Jim Norman, a high school history teacher who moves back to his old hometown with his new family. He left the town back in 1963 when he witnessed his brother, Wayne, being murdered by a gang of greasy punks driving a Chevy One-Fifty. Shortly after, they were served with some justice, as the oncoming train ran over them, killing them in their car which was parked on the tracks. Once Jim starts teaching in the local high school, a series of strange suicides start happening, and the punks who killed Jim’s brother start coming back as living teens.
I should also mention that this was the first movie that made me cry, and to this day I can’t watch through that scene where Wayne says: “Than come with me, Jimmy.”, without sobbing like a baby. By the time Jim says: “Wayne, you and me, we’ll always stick together.”, I’m already honking my way through my fifth tissue. I can’t end this column without singing a praise to Tim Matheson’s acting. His performance in this movie is one of the most genuine performances I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching in any horror movie.
‘Sometimes They Come Back’ was followed by two sequels in 1996 and 1998, but compared with their predecessor, they were kinda “meh”.
I hope my cacophonous rambling up there convinced you to see this fantastic movie, if not, let me try yelling – GO SEE THIS MOVIE ASAP! There ya go! BTW, it’s available on Blu-ray. You’re welcome.