Written by: Michael Den Boer on November 26th, 2013
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1980
Director: Greydon Clark
Writer: Ken Wheat, Jim Wheat
Cast: Cybill Shepherd, Jan-Michael Vincent, Martin Landau, Neville Brand, Vincent Schiavelli, Raymond Burr
DVD Release Date: November 19th, 2013
Approximate running time: 91 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78.1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Scorpion Releasing
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.95
The Return is an admirable attempt at cerebral sci-fi with a truly impressive cast, which nevertheless falls flat about halfway through, due primarily to the poor direction of Greydon Clark.
Clark–whose skills were far more suited to the exploitation fare which permeates his resume, a la Black Shampoo, Angels Brigade and Joysticks–doesn’t seem quite sure how to approach this story of three otherwise unconnected people who experience one alien visitation, and the violent and mysterious results which occur in its wake. The screenplay and idea isn’t bad in itself, yet the excellent ensemble cast seem distant and disinterested in their respective performances, under-directed and unmotivated to give The Return the proper emotional attention it requires to be successful.
Jan-Michael Vincent and an oddly-cast Cybill Shepherd are the two leads here, while Martin Landau is severely miscast as a country bumpkin sheriff way out of his league. Meanwhile, the back story of alien-controlled Vincent Schiavelli is never properly explained, ineffectively setting the actor up as an antagonist whose motives and presence simply seem like an afterthought. Instead, The Return pays far too much attention to the romantic sparks (or lack thereof) between Shepherd and Vincent, leaving the audience uninvolved and unable to care about the story itself.
It’s almost as if The Return isn’t sure whether it wants to be a B-movie with cheesy effects (which it has), or this sort of precursor to a Fire in the Sky styled alien film. This indecisiveness is ultimately what stops the film dead in its tracks, and leaves The Return as one sci fi film which is better off forgotten.
Scorpion Releasing presents The Return in an anamorphic widescreen presentation which preserves the film’s original aspect ratio. Although the film is dark in many places, it seems as if this was the fault of original lighting techniques and not Scorpion’s print, which is otherwise free of major blemish and nicely presented. Extras include an on camera interview with director Greydon Clark, as well as audio commentary. Overall, The Return receives a solid presentation from Scorpion Releasing.