Five years after the ho-hum film adaptation of the Stephen King short story “Sometimes They Come Back”, two unknown writer types (Guy Riedel and Adam Grossman) decided they had the perfect follow up and penned 1996’s SOMETIMES THEY COME BACK … AGAIN. One of the unknown writer types (Grossman) directed it and now 23 years later I’m watching it for the first time.

Honestly, this one copies so much of its structure from the first movie, I can’t understand why it was even made. I’m all for sequels. I’m all for bad sequels. I’m all for bad straight-to-DVD sequels (or straight-to-video as was the case with this one). But I still believe a sequel, especially one that has only the most tenuous of ties to the original, which I will get to later, should at the very least bring SOMETHING to the table.

SOMETIMES THEY COME BACK … AGAIN, however, does not.

The plot is thus: thirty years previously, Jon Porter (Michael Gross) watched his sister get murdered in a satanic ritual by three greasers who were a decade out of time in 1966, in their bid for eternal life. After killing Jon’s sister, the hoods notice Jon has seen everything and then they all purposely(?) step into an ankle-high puddle of blood into which Jon is able to knock a live electrical wire, frying the street toughs where they stand.

Because the juvenile delinquents decided to perform their black magic ritual in an abandoned mine where there’s a live junction box with loose wires coming off it for whatever reason?

Anyway, so thirty years later, Jon’s mother is killed in a mysterious accident and he and his daughter Michelle (Hilary Swank) have to go to the dead mother’s house for a few days to set her affairs in order and close out her life. While there, Michelle makes new friends Maria and Jules, grandmother’s ex-house cleaners, and also the dark and mysterious Tony Reno (Alexis Arquette), which, coincidentally, was also the name of the main thug who killed Jon’s sister.

Maria is hot for Tony, but Tony’s only got eyes for Michelle. As he begins his seductions, the bodies start to pile up. First is Steve, the simple-minded lawnmower man (see what they did there?) who is obsessed with Speed Racer and is suspicious of Tony Reno, having watched him disappear before his very eyes the night before.

As with the previous SOMETIMES movie, the rule is, when someone dies, another of the dead gang is allowed to come back from Hell. Next to go is Jules, who is slightly psychic and knows Tony Reno is up to no good. With this death, Tony’s got his whole gang back and now they want to complete their earlier ritual and gain the eternal life they were promised.

But Jon’s got other plans, thanks to the exposition and assistance from a local priest who Jon went to thirty years earlier after his sister was killed. The priest knows the backstory on Tony Reno and his gang and, luckily for Jon, also knows the ritual that will send them all back to Hell for good.

Do I really need to keep going?

Oh, wait, that tie to the first movie. At one point, Jon is told to contact Jim Norman, who will be able to shed some light on what’s going on. Jim Norman, since I know you don’t remember, was Tim Matheson’s character from SOMETIMES THEY COME BACK.

But when he tries to call, Tony Reno has intercepted the call and taken on the voice of Jim’s wife who tells Jon that her husband died last night. True or not, Tim Matheson never made a cameo in this movie, and I hate to say it, but that’s too bad.

Adam Grossman directed ONE more movie after this one, the 1998 remake of the classic CARNIVAL OF SOULS and while I know I watched and reviewed that movie years ago, I don’t remember a single thing about it. I assume neither does Grossman. As for this movie, I can’t imagine he’d remember much about this one, either. I just finished it and I’ve already forgotten half of it.

The script is overly simple, while the acting is underwhelming. Arquette chews the scenery and more, while Michael Gross is given almost nothing to work with whatsoever. A cardboard cutout could have played that role for all the depth it had, and I put that squarely on the writers and director.

If anything, the only person who gave anything close to a truly professional performance was Hilary Swank who, despite the story and everything she was working with, came across as likable and natural. No wonder she was only three years away from her first Oscar win.

Overall, SOMETIMES THEY COME BACK … AGAIN falls smack in the middle of the Unnecessary Sequel category. I’m not saying it’s a terrible movie as I’ve seen MUCH WORSE, it just isn’t a movie we needed. It adds absolutely nothing to the mythology, tells basically the same story, and isn’t even REALLY a King movie.

Unless you really HAVE to, this one’s a pass.

King on Film
1976-1992 (Carrie to Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice)
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)