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Escape To Witch Mountain (1975)

by on 2012/01/29

“You’re too excited. You’re going to make yourself sick.”

* * *

Man, I used to love this movie.

I remember watching this Disney film, sitting my fluffy footie pajamas staring through my bowl cut. I was just delighted by the idea that two little orphaned kids could move things with their minds, break locks, make animals do their bidding and generally give adults fits.

It also had the word ‘witch’ in the title.

Now that I am a jaded, joyless adult, I notice things. Things that get in the way of my previous, innocent enjoyment.

Even Miss_Tree, my favourite child person, noticed these very same things, confirming that I can’t simply blame my grumpy, grownup eyeballs.

As the extras told me, Escape To Witch Mountain is a Disney special effects film. And by special effects, I mean all the clearly visible fishing wire and aluminum pie plates that you could buy from the nickel and dime store. There were also moments of primitive blue screening, while magical to my bowl-cut blinded, adolescent self, seem hilarious now to Miss_Tree and I.

Nonetheless, this is a pretty cool story, if the execution was limited by the technology (and frankly the hairstyles) of the 70s.

Tony (Ike Eisenmann)  and Tia (Kim Richards) are orphans with strange powers. “All the other kids thought we were some kind of freaks… or witches.”

Their foster parents dead, the two are sent to an orphanage and happen upon the creepy Lucas Deranian played by creepy guy go-to Donald Pleasence (The Great Escape). Deranian is a lick-spittle and problem-solver for insane rich guy Aristotle Bolt  played by the yelly Ray Milland.

Realizing the kids are psychic and therefore valuable possible advisors to the cantankerous Aristotle Bolt, the kids are taken to live at Bolt’s isolated mansion.

Bolt is no Daddy Warbucks – although he does outfit the kids’ room with a full ice cream bar. This really captured my imagination as a kid. Leave it to Disney to hit me where my 5-year-old self lived.

When Bolt stinks up the place with his crazy, the kids make a run for it. I mean can you really live comfortably with a guy who says things like this: “Wealth, gentlemen, is like flesh. It has to be nurtured and coddled.” There’s just not enough ice cream in the world.

The kids then run from crazy old rich guy to a prickly old guy  in a camper, Jason O’Day (Eddie Albert). He says hilarious things too including, “You’re nothin’ but a connivin’ pair of undersized land pirates!”

But as it is so often with the old guy down the street yelling at the kids to get off his lawn, camper dude has a marshmallow soft side. “He just likes to bellow a lot. He’s not really mean.” Along the way there is a friendly bear, a helicopter chase, and a bag of flying flour.

It all made me wish I was a kid again. If only to see what I saw in this flawed classic once more.

* * *

97 minutes

Rated G for the gee-whiz, gosh-darn goodness of Disney

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