The Comeback (film)

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For the documentary film featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger, see The Comeback (1980 film).
The Comeback
DVD cover for 'The Comeback'
Directed by Pete Walker
Produced by Pete Walker
Written by Michael Sloan
Murray Smith
Starring Jack Jones
Pamela Stephenson
David Doyle
Bill Owen
Sheila Keith
Holly Palance
Music by Stanley Myers
Cinematography Peter Jessop
Edited by Alan Brett
Distributed by Troma Entertainment
Shriek Show
Release dates
Running time
100 minutes
Language English

The Comeback (also known as The Day the Screaming Stopped) is a 1978 British horror film directed by Pete Walker.[1] The film was first released in the United Kingdom on 16 June 1978 and was given a theatrical showing at the Barbican Centre in London as part of a Pete Walker retrospective in November 2014.[2] The Comeback is considered to be more conventional than some of Walker's earlier works and has been credited along with Walker's Schizo as "foreshadowing the development of the slasher movie of the 1980s."[3]


The film opens with Gail Cooper (Holly Palance) traveling to her ex-husband Nick's (Jack Jones) apartment in Los Angeles in order to remove some of its more valuable items. It soon becomes apparent that while Nick (a successful singer) isn't at home, someone is clearly there. The anonymous person watches Gail take a phone call from a reporter asking about the couple's divorce and inquiring as to when Nick will release his next album, as he's been on a six year hiatus since marrying Gail. As the phone call ends and Gail walks around the house she is ambushed and murdered by the person, who is wearing an old lady mask and women's clothing.

The film then cuts to Nick, who is trying to recover from the divorce while also attempting to record a new album that will satisfy his manager Webster (David Doyle). Nick finds some solace in Webster's secretary Linda (Pamela Stephenson), with whom he shares a strong mutual attraction. After some debate, Nick moves into a manor in the English countryside that is overseen by the housekeeper Mrs. B (Sheila Keith) and the gardener Mr. B (Bill Owen). Soon after his arrival Nick begins to experience strange phenomena that include visions of his ex-wife Gail. Nick is unaware of Gail's death, so he's confused by her appearance at the manor. Despite this, Nick begins to work on his album and further develop his romance with Linda. His psychological state is not helped when his associate Harry (Peter Turner) goes missing and Nick discovers that Linda was formerly dating Webster. One night Nick decides to investigate some of the strange noises he's seen and ends up finding Gail's severed, decomposing head. This puts Nick into a catatonic state and he is temporarily admitted to a hospital because of this.

Nick and Linda eventually consummate their new relationship, only for Linda to disappear the following day. This nearly devastates Nick and he's instructed by his physician to take things slowly and to re-visit his apartment, as the physician believes that all of the unexplained phenomena have been a result of Nick's distress over the divorce and the stress of recording his album. Once at the apartment Nick notices that the apartment has been thoroughly cleaned with antiseptic and the carpeting replaced, which marks him as strange since he left the apartment clean upon his departure and gave no orders to have anything replaced. He returns to the English manor and discusses this with Mrs. B, who tells him not to worry about any of this.

However soon after Nick is attacked by the masked old woman. He flees and runs into Mrs. B, who reveals that the masked old woman is Mr. B and that they have killed Gail and Harry out of insanity and revenge. They're angry with Nick, as their only daughter had been obsessed with him and had committed suicide after he announced that he'd married Gail. The murders and supposedly supernatural occurrences were to be their way of getting even with him for everything and that their final act would be to kill Nick himself after slowly driving him insane. Mr. B then tries to kill Nick again, only for Nick to duck and for Mrs. B to accidentally take the fatal wound, which stops Mr. B from further attacking in favor of cradling his dead wife's body. Webster then arrives and upon seeing what happened, calls the police. Just before they arrive, Nick hears tapping in the walls and manages to locate Linda, who the Bs had entombed in the walls with the body of their dead daughter. The two go outside and as the police cart away Mr. B, Nick sees the ghost of Gail waving at him from one of the manor's windows, showing that some of the phenomena he'd experienced had been at least partially real.


Critical reception[edit]

Critical reception has been mixed.[4] Time Out panned the film, writing "Not even its brace of transvestite red herrings can help the story stand on its own feet." [5] DVD Verdict and Twitch Film both gave mixed reviews for the film,[6] and DVD Verdict wrote that "It's by no means a terrible film, just a soft one. There are too few jolts and too few kills. On top of that, the reveal is so out-of-left-field, it feels like a cheat."[7] In contrast, and Steve Chibnall both praised the film,[8] with Chibnall writing in the book British Horror Cinema that "The Comeback contains Walker's most accomplished exercises in suspense, but the film's tongue is more firmly in its cheek than ever before."[9]



  1. ^ "The Comeback | BFI | BFI". Retrieved 2014-05-10. 
  2. ^ Zimmerman, Samuel. "London: Cigarette Burns Celebrates Pete Walker at the Barbican". Fangoria. Retrieved 16 November 2014. 
  3. ^ Shail, Robert (2007). British Film Directors: A Critical Guide. Southern Illinois University Press. p. 209. Retrieved 16 November 2014. 
  4. ^ Jane, Ian. "The Pete Walker Collection (review)". DVD Talk. Retrieved 16 November 2014. 
  5. ^ "The Comeback | review, synopsis, book tickets, showtimes, movie release date | Time Out London". Retrieved 2014-02-22. 
  6. ^ Hurtado, Jay. "Now on Blu-ray: Redemption Films: Good, Bad, & Ugly: THE PETE WALKER COLLECTION, OASIS OF THE ZOMBIES, ZOMBIE LAKE". Twitch Film. Retrieved 16 November 2014. 
  7. ^ Lorber, Kino. "The Pete Walker Collection (review)". DVD Verdict. Retrieved 16 November 2014. 
  8. ^ DiVincenzo, Alex. "Film Review: The Comeback (1978)". Retrieved 16 November 2014. 
  9. ^ Chibnall, Steve; Petley, Julian (2001). British Horror Cinema. Psychology Press. pp. 169–170. ISBN 9780415230032. Retrieved 16 November 2014. 
  10. ^ "Sitges Film Festival Index (p 23)" (PDF). Sitges Film Festival. Retrieved 16 November 2014. 

External links[edit]