A young Soldier is killed in the line of duty in Vietnam. That same night, the soldier returns home, brought back by his Mother's wishes that he "Don't Die"! Upon his Return, Andy sits in his room, refusing to see his friends or family, venturing out only at night. The Vampiric horror is secondary to the terror that comes from the disintegration of a typical American family. Written by
R. L. Strong <email@example.com>
There was a mishap with the fiery car climax. While Richard Backus and a stunt driver were speeding through the streets the fire set at the rear of the car got out of control and was sucked into the back seat of the speeding car. Fortunately there was a Plexiglas shield dividing the backseat from the front of the car where the performers were. It startled Backus, who had to stick his head out the window to keep from inhaling smoke. Much to the actor's dismay, director Bob Clark wanted the scene re-shot with less fire. See more »
A horror film that's as saddening as it is chilling.
Those horror films that work on an emotional level as well as a visceral level can be quite devastating; Cronenbergs' remake of "The Fly" would be another good example. Here's a story (written by Alan Ormsby) that can work as a metaphor for the effects of the Vietnam War on the young men who fought it. Its characters are thoroughly relatable and sympathetic, and its horror works quite well. Thicky atmospheric and spooky, it benefits from solid acting in all of its major roles.
John Marley and Lynn Carlin star as Charles and Christine Brooks, the parents of Andy (Richard Backus), a soldier fighting the war in 'Nam whom they're told died over there. So it's a delight to them when he turns up alive and seemingly well. But all is NOT well, and Andy is definitely not the same person that he was when he went away. The signs don't take long to reveal themselves, and Charles is dismayed over the change in his son, while Christine, still full of love for her boy, tries to deny that anything could be wrong.
This is an impressively mature genre effort from the late, great cult director Bob Clark ("Black Christmas" '74, "Porky's") who'd previously guided the more irreverent "Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things". It's also historically important for marking the first credit for makeup effects legend Tom Savini. Filmed on location in Florida, it's got some fine suspense and is often genuinely creepy. Savini's effects are good but parcelled out in small doses until near the end. And that ending, when it comes, is a grabber that will really stay with you.
Marley and Carlin are wonderful as the parents with the differing feelings and reactions toward their son, and Backus does a fine job of being initially standoffish and growing more and more unnerving as the story plays out. Henderson Forsythe is excellent in support as the concerned local doctor, and various cast members from "Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things" - Anya Ormsby, Jane Daly, Jeff Gillen, and Ormsby himself (who was also a makeup artist on this show) - play other supporting roles and bits.
Any fan of the genre is well advised to check this one out. It's simply one of the finer horror films to come out of the early 1970s.
Nine out of 10.
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