Tuesday, May 02, 2017

The Comeback (1978)








DIRECTOR: Pete Walker

WRITERS:

Murray Smith
Michael Sloan

CAST:

Jack Jones
Pamela Stephenson
David Doyle
Bill Owen
Sheila Keith
Holly Palance
Peter Turner
Richard Johnson
Patrick Brock

PLOT:

Nick Cooper is a famous singer and is currently on a six-year hiatus. When his ex-wife is brutally murdered in his apartment while he is away, he decides to record his next album in a sinister old estate to try and get over the divorce and stress. Still haunted by the grisly murder, little does Nick realise that the killer is also tracking him down to the mansion and plans on finishing him off just like everyone that is close to him.







The Comeback is the second Pete Walker directed slasher that I've reviewed as part of my slasher retrospective. The first being Frightmare. What I've learnt from sitting through two of his films now is that he has a thing for psychotic elderly female killers which has been the case in both of the films that I've watched and reviewed. It seems to be a real fear for this filmmaker, that an evil old woman who is hellbent on revenge may be Pete Walker's biggest fear, either that or he hates his mother.

This opens with a beautiful woman snooping around her ex-husband's apartment. It doesn't take long before she is brutally murdered by what appears to be an old hag with a scythe. It's a pretty grisly opening for a movie set back in the late seventies. While not as gruesome as some of the films from that decade. I can't imagine how shocking the violence would've been for the uptight English audience who were on the verge of entering their video nasties era.

What I enjoyed most about The Comeback was the carnage candy and gore. While not delivering a high body count, this is a movie that does deliver on the bloodshed. We have some pretty nasty death scenes. What makes these moments even more violent is that they are filmed in such a way that is so quick and frenzied that every moment feels extremely ferocious. I have to hand it to Pete Walker. Being a British director who was delivering such violent films, I imagine he had quite the reputation in comparison to a lot of other English filmmakers.

When it comes to the suspense and tension. I thought that The Comeback was pretty intense. Most of the scenes that feature our old hag stalking and killing her victims off were pretty well done. The open scene was so quick with loud music cues that it sets the tone for the rest of the movie. I was actually taken by surprise. Every time we see one of the characters being killed off, the movie is successful at delivering the thrills and chills. For that, I actually thought this was a pretty passable effort.

Where The Comeback loses points for me is that every moment that doesn't feature our old hag stalking and murdering the supporting cast, this actually ends up being a pretty lifeless affair. We have a sort of love story that is blossoming between our main character and a receptionist that doesn't feel like it adds all that much to the overall story other than to have our lead get over the nightmarish visions and what appears to be his nasty ex-wife. She is there to provide a happy end for our leading character.

The movie also tries to add in some supernatural elements with our main character being haunted by his ex-wifes presence. I think the movie on that supernatural side of things really doesn't make all that much sense as he isn't aware of her murder in real life and only through these few scenes where he finds her severed head is he being haunted. It is never really explained and I think we are just meant to overlook this sort of flaw in the story. While it gives the movie some gruesome imagery, it's not executed very well.

Now we come to the ending of the film and the twist. I think the ending reveal was pretty neat. I think being a pretty obscure film, this may have flown under the radar and missed a lot of hatred you see nowadays for the depiction of a transvestite killer and how the community is represented in movies. A lot of these films play them as messed up and crazy. This seems to handle it a bit more with the revenge side of things and not just have the character as mentally unstable.

Lastly, the acting in the film is pretty solid for the most part. I think the standout is Sheila Keith as Mrs. B. Towards the end of the film, she looks like she is having the most fun with her role. I think to play an elderly woman who is seeking revenge for her daughter's suicide, gave her a lot to work with. A woman who is scorned, angry and will stop at nothing to get revenge. I think she really is the highlight of this film and the most memorable in this film. She steals the show.







DEATH TOLL: 4

BLOOD AND GORE:

- A woman's hand is sliced off with a scythe.
- A woman gets slashed and her neck cut with a scythe.
- A dead corpse is shown in a closet.
- Someone is hit in the stomach with an axe.
- A corpse with maggots eating its eyes and in its mouth is found.
- A man is repeatedly stabbed in the stomach.







The Comeback is a passable slasher. An interesting premise of a singer who is being stalked by a crazed killer that ends with an enjoyable twist. The motivation behind the killer is what stands out for me. We have some decent suspense during the stalk and slash scenes and even while the gore looks a tad fake at times, I still found the violence to be entertaining. Sheila Keith also delivers a scene stealing performance. Worth a once off watch just to witness an old hag murdering people with a scythe.


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