Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Day 319: Return From Witch Mountain (1978)

G, 1 hr. 33 min.  Directed by: John Hough.  Release Date: March 10, 1978.  DVD Release Date: March 10, 2009. 

I'm giving this a positive review, despite the large number of problems I think the film had, because Disney provided us with yet another live action movie that's really suitable for all audiences.  Is this a little darker than Escape to Witch Mountain?  Undoubtedly.  There's a little more violence, most of which is handled with a bit of slapstick to it.  There's a lot of darkness, and this may be a little less appropriate for smaller kids than the first or even third movie in this series.  There's also what is arguably the most revolting costuming in the history of film going on.  The 70s were an evil, evil time.  I don't care what we think we know because of That 70s Show.
Some of my enjoyment of this movie centers around Bette Davis.  The lady played some strange parts, and this is no exception, but even on a bad day she was one HELL of an actress.  Much of the darkness in this movie, but not all of it, uses her as an epicenter.  I have no doubt that's why she was selected for the part, because Ms. Davis could handle it all and make it not look stupid, which was a real danger in this movie.

I'm not sure how Los Angeles, and I'm not talking WEST Los Angeles, got selected for the setting here.  I just turned the DVD off, and I can't even remember why these kids, now well into their late teens, have returned to the normal world away from their alien compound or commune or whatever you want to call it.  Whatever plans they had terminate pretty quickly thanks to that do-gooder streak of theirs and this film descends into madness in the same way that every Home Alone movie does once it's for sure that family is going on vacation.  Regardless, it feels off.  There was a highly Pacific Northwest quality to the original movie, say Oregon, somewhere away from Portland... and I don't think the transport to a gritty urban setting, complete with geek gangs, was a good approach.

This is still fun to watch.  It puts a smile on my face, but it turned away from the more purely wholesome approach of the first film.  Check it out, but you may not want the younger kids involved.  If the first one scared them a little, this one could scare them a lot.