We are in the middle of a Disney 80's Live-Action revival of sorts. "Tron Legacy" is fast upon us, and a "The Black Hole" remake is said to be in the works. Various companies are actively producing toys, comics, and video games related to these titles, and a host of internet commentary abounds. The love is well deserved, yet for all this appreciation for these oddball "Dark" classics there is a distinct lack of awareness for the third great Disney Live-Action feature from this era, the awesome, near masterpiece 1983 film "Something Wicked This Way Comes."
"Something Wicked This Way Comes" is one of the films that almost broke the House of Mouse. Expensive and fraught with production problems, it would sadly be lumped in with The Black Culdron as an example of what Disney would NOT be doing again(good luck, Guillermo.) But then the company launched it's paid cable service, The Disney Channel, and SWTWC found it's audience. I remember watching this film over and over as a kid, never tiring of the bizarre situation the two boys come to find themselves in as a dark carnival appears in the middle of Autumn, inciting rash behavior with grave consequence among the towns folk.
This is a creepy flick. Not necessarily scary, but very atmospheric and effective. Basically a coming of age story that is steeped in the macabre, SWTWC makes up for it slow narrative by featuring an ongoing situation in which children are at peril. The production is full scale, with Jason Robarbs and Jonathan Pryce chewing up Ray Bradbury's script, while taking turns delivering great archetypal characterizations. All throughout the film I was checking out the Dust Witch, and I'm reading the credits and see she's played by and I'm like, WTF!?
Still don't love the 80's? I give you Pam Grier in a Disney Film.
That, and Several ghoulish visual effects set pieces, hundreds of Tarantulas, a dwarf, plus some awesome, once-state-of-the-art/ laughable composite imagery sequences vault this potentially so-so endeavour into the realm of "Horror Classic." Not in a crap your pants/ scar your children sort of way, but rather, in a "that was charming, oops, now I have to go down to the basement for laundry" kind of way. A scary movie that is intended mainly for kids, yet with the passage of time it becomes even more effective for adults. Tinged with the horror of regret, SWTWC makes it mark by being one of the most subtle genre films of the decade in terms of story, as portrayed by the most opulent production considerations of its era. It truly is worthy of it's Tron/ Black Hole lineage, even as it heads off in it's own unique direction.