The Return (1980 film)

The Return

The Return film poster
Directed by Greydon Clark
Produced by Greydon Clark
Written by Curtis Burch
Jim Wheat
Ken Wheat
Starring Jan-Michael Vincent
Cybill Shepherd
Martin Landau
Raymond Burr
Neville Brand
Vincent Schiavelli
Music by Dan Wyman
Cinematography Daniel Pearl
Edited by Chris Burch
Release dates
  • 1980 (1980)
Running time
94 min.
Country United States
Language English

The Return is a 1980 American science fiction film directed by Greydon Clark. It stars Jan-Michael Vincent, Cybill Shepherd, Martin Landau, and Raymond Burr. It met little commercial success and was released directly to television and video.


While stopping at a gas station late one night in a small New Mexico town called Little Creek, a young girl gets out of the vehicle while her father goes inside. Exploring the empty main street of the town she meets a local boy, and both are soon mesmerized by a column of light from above. After a minute or two the light disappears and the young girl runs back to her father's car and they soon leave.

Twenty Five years later the sheriff of the town, Wayne, (Vincent) is investigating a strange case of cattle mutilations with few leads to follow so far. His efforts are soon hampered by Jennifer, a scientist from California (Shepard) who is overseeing a geology project in the area. As the two conflict over the mutilations and their possible causes, they find themselves attracted to one another in an almost-familiar way, as if they share some unknown bond. As events unfold, they discover that they were the children shown at the beginning of the film and that the night depicted then changed their lives. Young Wayne stayed and became a police officer while Jennifer went back to California and ended up working for her father's company. Jennifer claimed, however, that she always felt a strange urge to return.

Along with the blossoming romance between the two, the mutilation case comes to a head when the culprit appears to be a crazy old prospector hermit living alone on the outskirts of town (Schiavelli). The plot thickens, however, when the hermit claims that not only were the children visited by aliens twenty five years ago - so was he... and he hasn't aged a day since. Claiming to be on a mission from the aliens, the hermit states that the mutilations have a purpose - he has been using a "knife" made of energy to carve out parts of the cattle and teleport them into space using a device hidden in the cave behind his cabin. While confronting him in the cave, Jennifer is subdued while the hermit explains that the aliens gave him a purpose that night. He then expresses jealousy that the aliens would choose someone else as well, and is shocked when an otherwise fatal blow from the alien "knife" fails to kill or even harm her. After being saved by Wayne, it becomes apparent that it was all an experiment by the aliens who then leave with whatever results they garnered from the incident.


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