In Vietnam, US soldier Andy Brooks is shot by a sniper and falls to the ground. As he begins to die, he hears his mother’s voice calling out, “Andy, you’ll come back, you’ve got to, you promised.” The voice becomes sinister and muffled as Andy’s eyes close. Sometime later, his family receives notice of his death in combat.
Back home, Andy’s father, Charles, and sister, Cathy, begin to grieve, but his mother, Christine, becomes irate and refuses to believe that Andy has died. Hours later, in the middle of the night, Andy arrives at the front door in full uniform and apparently unharmed; the family accepts the notice of his death as a clerical error and welcomes him back with joy.
Over the next few days, Andy displays strange and erratic behavior, dressing in an unusually concealing matter and spending his days sitting around the house listless and anemic. Meanwhile, local police investigate the murder of a local trucker, who was found with his throat slashed and his body drained of blood after telling diner patrons that he’d picked up a hitchhiking soldier.
Charles attempts to confront Christine about Andy’s erratic behavior, which only leads to tension between the couple as Christine insists that Charles was too withholding and authoritarian a father and Charles telling Christine that she’s made Andy too sensitive by smothering him. Andy continues to display unusual behavior, attacking a neighborhood boy who attempts to demonstrate his karate skills and then attacking the family dog when it tries to protect the child. At night, Andy becomes inexplicably lively and animated, wandering the town and spending time in the local cemetery. It ultimately becomes apparent that Andy has returned as some kind of vampire, and has been draining people’s blood in order to reinvigorate himself, injecting it into his own decaying body with syringes. —Wikipedia
Bob Clark began making independent low-budget features as a writer/director with the transvestite comedy The She Man in 1967, and his horror films of the early ‘70s, made with writer/actor Alan Ormsby, are fondly remembered: Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things (signed as Benjamin Clark) and Deathdream (aka Dead of Night; Night Walk). Clark also won admiration for his Sherlock Holmes film Murder By Decree, scripted by John Hopkins. None of this could compare to the box-office success Clark would find in the early ‘80s with his seminal low-brow sex comedy Porky’s and its first sequel. Reviled by critics but eaten up by audiences, the films’ horny-yet-nostalgic tone would forever influence the world of teen movies. It was Clark’s 1983 project, however, an adaptation of Jean Shepherd’s writings called A Christmas Story, that would prove to be the director’s finest moment. The pitch-perfect holiday farce failed to find an audience despite strong reviews upon its initial release, but… read more
Crossing "The Monkey's Paw" with the aftermath of Vietnam is both inspired and gruesome. When Andy says to the town doc (whose blood he's about to drain): "I died for you, doc. Why shouldn't you return the favor?...You owe me this," it can't help but be grotesque. Andy's eventual disintegration next to his mother (and the flaming car chase that precedes it) offers only a hopeless response to all that has come before.