Media Blasters // 1978 // 100 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // March 30th, 2006
Millions loved him. Could someone hate him enough to kill and kill again?
Media Blasters offers this installment in its Pete Walker collection, a tale of a popular singer (played by real musician Jack Jones) and his attempts to put together a hit record in solitude. Too bad for him, there are some horrible things afoot, and he's in the middle of it all.
Jones plays Nick Cooper, a renowned performer gearing up for his biggest release ever. To concentrate more fully on the work he has to do, he leaves the city and takes refuge in an old country manor. Staying behind is his ex-wife, who he hasn't spoken to in six months, but, unbeknownst to him, will soon meet a grisly fate. While she is going through their old apartment, a crazy person in a rubber mask rushes her, swinging a knife. Screams, slash wounds, and a severed hand later, she lies on the stairs, bloodied and dead. The killer escapes.
While Nick works on his album with the help of a secretary from the record company, the attractive Linda Everett (Pamela Stephenson), and support from the manor's owners, the eccentric Mr. and Mrs. B, he is soon preyed upon by nighttime oddities. He begins hearing voices, and, worse, seeing visions of his slain former wife. The seemingly supernatural menaces grow more and more lurid each time, and Nick feels his grip on reality starting to loosen. Linda attempts to keep him grounded -- and their mutual attraction for each other is certainly a pacifying influence -- but as the images become more horrifying, Nick finds himself central to a mystery where those closest to him meet gruesome ends. Who, or what, is behind the killings? Will Nick lose his mind? Does he not have the bitchin'est chest hair ever?
The Comeback is an effective bit of British slasher horror. While it is besmirched by a few too many slow patches, I think it has enough going for it to lift it up and out of the abyss of "who-gives-a-crap" obscure DVD releases. The film follows the slasher blueprint and, as can be inferred from its 1978 release date, might also be deserving of the adjective "pioneering." A closer look at the breakdown:
Allow me to preface this with the obligatory "these effects are not as grisly as today's horror jaunts show." That being said, the kills here are pretty bloody, especially the first -- and most significant -- murder of Nick's wife. Walker shoots the slaying well, with the killer flying out of nowhere, belting out a shrill, inhuman wail, then slashing like crazy. The shots are edited quickly and there is a lot of blood. The severed hand is hokey, but I can still dig it. Subsequent violence isn't as jarring, but the blood quotient remains high.
Decent jump scares.
The cheap "gotcha!" tactic has obviously been a mainstay in horror films, and is currently enjoying a spike in popularity thanks to the modern PG-13 horror film. A nice selection of these moments can be found in The Comeback, and most all involve Nick opening a closet door or peeking into a box and seeing the decomposing face of his wife.
More maggots than you can shake a stick at.
The body of Nick's ex-wife goes undiscovered for several days, and the aftereffects are lingered over by Walker's lens. Enough said.
Attractive female costars.
Don't expect any gratuitous nudity, but I have to give props to Pamela Stephenson, who was simply hot in this. (She was the blonde ditz from Superman III).
Like any slasher, the audience is kept in the dark until the end of the total story behind the killings. The revelation of the killer's identity, as well as the motivation behind the mayhem, is unique and slightly creepy. Implausible, too, once you think about it long enough, but the fate of Linda and how it is tied to the back story is wonky fun.
The Comeback is far from a "must-see" flick, and gore-hounds will likely come away unimpressed. But what I found interesting was its somewhat strict adherence to slasher formula -- far before said formula became so popular. There are plenty of talky scenes that slow the pacing down, and plan on suffering through some gratuitous balladry from Jones. All in all, though, a solid effort.
A nice treatment by Media Blasters: a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that holds up well enough, despite some faded colors and a 5.1 Dolby mix (that probably isn't necessary, but duly appreciated nonetheless). Limited extras are highlighted by a commentary with Pete Walker and Jonathan Rigby, author of "English Gothic."
The Comeback is an unfortunately titled (sounds like a Disney live action sports movie starring monkeys) but more-than-adequate helping of old-school British slasher horror.
Not guilty. Someone get this man a Prozac.
Review content copyright © 2006 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Media Blasters
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 100 Minutes
Release Year: 1978
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Director's Commentary
* Photo Gallery