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The Return (1980) - Blu-ray Review

3 beersBefore Cowboys & Aliens there was The Return.

A couple of yahoo cops, dunking donuts in a beer can, find themselves in over their heads as their close encounters with people who love their cattle a little too much gets a little too close for their collective comfort.  With threats coming down more frequently than the rain, a new romance blossoms between two unsuspecting souls who witnessed the same alien event many years ago.   

Out among the stars themselves, the ship appears.  Cruising at a fast clip.  Its target is earth, but on this night it will visit just two lost souls.  They are children, in fact, doing exactly as their parents instructed: wait here.  And that simple command – or should I say the obedience they give to the command – gets them an experience they will never forget.  One child is dressed as a cowboy and the other, a girl, is all dolled up in red.  They are across the street from each other in Small Town, USA, but what they share that night will keep them unified forever. 

Welcome to The Return.  Starring Jan-Michael Vincent and Cybill Shepherd and Martin Landau, this low budget tale is filled with camera tricks, strong lighting, and one practical model, all working in unison to tell (and sell) a tall tale of close encounters by way of three lights, trippy visuals, and a red fog that descends within the light radiating from an alien StarCraft. 

Twenty-five years later, in the same town, the children – all grown up – are reunited to try and figure out the mystery plaguing the skies over the desert town.  One is a hard-drinking cop trapped in New Mexico and the other is a scientist returning to explain the spectral activity in the starry skies.  Guided by the same trippy visuals also haunting the late, great character actor Vincent Schiavelli, the two learn, through a series of misadventures, that the town itself might just be as strange as the activity above it.

The Return is slight entertainment, for sure, but thanks to direction by Without Warning’s veteran cult director Greydon Clark and sharp cinematography by Daniel Pearl (The Texas Chain Saw Massacre), the science fiction flick has its moments of shock and awe, thanks to a healthy dose of cattle mutilations and Landau’s campy performance as countrified bumpkin sheriff with a moustache that just won’t quit. 

The film – even if the acting elevates it only the slightest bit – is rather weakly written, thanks to brothers Ken and Jim Wheat’s (The Silent Scream) knack for not explaining much, but still manages to produce a few genuine scares courtesy of a vicious dog and the film’s use of a very checked out Raymond Burr, who seems to be reading his lines more than he is concentrating on acting.  It also benefits from an extremely rural setting that, when the shit hits the fan and people start getting carved up by Schiavelli’s light saber. 

Code Red and Scorpion Releasing combine forces with this HD remaster from the original camera negatives and presents The Return on 1080p for the first time ever.


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The Return (1980) - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: Not rated
91 mins
: Greydon Clark
Ken Wheat, Jim Wheat
Jan-Michael Vincent, Cybill Shepherd, Martin Landau
: Sci-fi | Mystery
The Return.
Memorable Movie Quote: "I didn't fall asleep at the wheel. A dog or something jumped on the hood."
Release Date:

DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
November 28. 2017
Synopsis: Two young children in a small town have an encounter with an alien spaceship. 25 years later the children are reunited as adults in the same town which is now beset by strange cattle mutilations. Matters become worse when the cattle mutilations are joined by the murder and mutilation of humans.


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The Return (1980) - Blu-ray Review


Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Scorpion Releasing
Available on Blu-ray
- November 28, 2017
Screen Formats: 1.78:1
: English
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Code Red and Scorpion Releasing presents The Return on blu-ray with an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and a soundtrack supporting a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 delivery.  The results are solid.  The film looks crisp and colors are bold, with special gooey attention paid to the mutilation aspect of the effects.  It’s unlike any other version of the movie released thus far; focused and detailed.  Doesn’t look cheap at all.  Black levels are strong throughout and, as it full of browns due to the desert locale, the new HD transfer brings a beauty to its location not previously seen.



  •  The film’s director, Greydon Clark, provides a solid commentary about the making of the movie.

Special Features:

With an on camera interview with Clark, Katarina’s Nightmare Theater mode, and a trailer, the film’s supplemental material is damn effective.

  • On-Camera Interview with Greydon Clark
  • Katarina’s Nightmare Theater mode
  • Trailer


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The Return (1980) - Blu-ray Review