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  Comeback, The See You In The Charts
Year: 1978
Director: Pete Walker
Stars: Jack Jones, Pamela Stephenson, David Doyle, Bill Owen, Sheila Keith, Holly Palance, Peter Turner, Richard Johnson, Patrick Brock, June Chadwick, Penny Irving, Jeff Silk
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Nick Cooper (Jack Jones) is a popular singing star who hasn't made an album for six years, so his manager Webster Jones (David Doyle) decides that recording new material in Britain is the way forward. When Nick arrives at the airport, he is met by secretary Linda (Pamela Stephenson) who offers to take him back to Webster's offices. Meanwhile, Nick's recently divorced ex-wife Gail (Holly Palance) is at their penthouse apartment in London, wondering if she's alone. As she investigates the place, suddenly what appears to be a crazed old woman leaps up in front of her and hacks her to death - but why?

In a role originally intended for Bryan Ferry, here was a vehicle for a singing star that eventually went to that hard rocking figure of musical debauchery, Jack Jones. Ahem. Yes, he was an unusual choice and in this, his only starring role, you could most kindly observe that perhaps the film needed a performer with an edgier reputation to really give the thrills the boost they needed. But it was Mr Jones who producer and director Pete Walker secured the services of, so we might as well accept it. And in truth, he didn't do such a bad job, it was simply incongruous to see such a wholesome figure in the middle of all this gloomy horror.

Scripted by Murray Smith, a regular cohort of Walker, the casting can be a source of great amusement, certainly more amusement than the rest of the film achieves. For not only is the famed crooner on board, but supporting him are Not the Nine O'Clock News star Pamela Stephenson in the thankless role of girlfriend-victim and Charlie's Angels' Bosley (Doyle), with also Bill Owen making an appearance. Nick goes out to stay in a country house while making his album and the husband and wife staff there are played by Sheila Keith (but of course) and Owen, yes, Compo from the world's longest running sitcom, Last of the Summer Wine.

Alas, opportunities for the comedy actor to ride down a hill in a bathtub on wheels are limited here, but he does have a part in the grand finale which is nothing short of bizarre for those more used to his work in humour. First, however, we have to work out who killed Gail; it wasn't Nick and it wasn't Linda because we saw where they were at the time of the murder, and her corpse lies mouldering for quite some time without anyone realising that she is no more (we know this because Walker keeps editing in random shots of it whenever the pace is flagging).

Someone is out to drive poor old Nick mad, but in the meantime Jones's female fans can get a kick out of the number of times he appears without his shirt, displaying a shag pile-worthy growth of chest hair and he even has a near-nude scene - steady, girls! If that doesn't interest you, how about the suspense sequences which in the main feature our hero gingerly creeping around the country house at night and receiving some nasty shocks such as sobs and groans echoing through the halls or finding Gail's decomposing head in a box tied up with a ribbon. The suspects are few: could it be the cross-dressing Webster? Nick's overbearing friend Harry (Peter Turner) who has no idea how to talk to women judging by his exchanges with Linda? Or could the baddie be closer to home? With a climax that would have better suited Alice Cooper than Jack Jones (we're meant to believe his middle of the road tunes have sent the killer mad), The Comeback is a curio, more of a whodunnit in a way, the biggest mystery being who it was aimed at. Music by Stanley Myers.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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