Universal Themes Make for Timeless Appeal
Dave | San Diego, CA | 03/13/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"To coincide with the new Witch Mountain film being released to theaters, Disney is re-releasing "Escape to Witch Mountain" (1975) as a special edition loaded with well-done extras.
The story is about Tony (Ike Eisenmann) and his younger sister, Tia (Kim Richards), two orphans who have recently lost their foster parents as well. While getting used to their new home, an orphanage (run by Disney favorite Reta Shaw), the children draw the attention of an attorney, Lucas Deranian (Donald Pleasence), whose life is saved because of the children's esp powers. Deranian's boss, Aristotle Bolt (Ray Milland) is an evil (and wealthy man) fascinated with paranormal powers. He pretends to be the children's uncle so that he can take custody of them and use them for his own gain. Meanwhile, Tia's star case (a metal purse) reveals a map to Witch Mountain, providing clues to their origins. Once Tony & Tia discover Bolt's plot to exploit them, they escape his mansion and with the help of a crusty (only on the outside!) widower, Jason O'Day (Eddie Albert), they try to find their way home to Witch Mountain. Bolt and the greedy townspeople (hungry for Bolt's financial reward) chase after the children. Will they make it home?
Sure, the special effects will not be quite as dazzling to current generations used to digital, but the story and its universal themes more than make up for the film's 1970's appearance. What child couldn't relate to having a hard time fitting in with others, feeling lost and just wanting to find the comfort and warmth of home? Richards and Eisenmann have excellent chemistry, and are ably supported by veteran actors Ray Milland, Eddie Albert, and Donald Pleasance (who is extremely menacing in his understated performance). The scenery is also fantastic, as much of the film is shot on location in Carmel and Palo Alto. And as for style...the opening credits still pack a wallop--WAY COOL!
The extras are fantastic, giving a very complete look at how the film was made.
Fantastic memories from Kim Richards, Ike Eisenmann, and director John Hough. Very enjoyable to listen to, filled with fun behind the scenes info, such as Tia's star case currently residing in the Disney archives, and learning that Kim's younger sister played Tia in the flashbacks. What is fantastic is that both Kim & Ike have excellent recall of what occurred during filming.
"Making the Escape" (26:41): What a fantastic making-of featurette. Interviews with Richards, Eisenmann (who now goes by the name Iake Eissinmann), red-headed bully orphan Dermott Downs, and director John Hough. Hough tells how Disney wanted a grittier and darker feel to "Witch Mountain," which is why he got the job (thanks to previous films, including "Legend of Hell House"). Kim & Ike share very warm memories of making the movie (Ike is even moved to tears when discussing the themes of the movie and people's reaction). Kim remembers Disney as the best studio and most loyal, with a family feeling; obviously, these were special times for these two actors who also enjoyed being part of the special effects used in the film. Interestingly enough, Jodie Foster was considered for Kim's part until Foster took another project instead.
"Conversations with John Hough" (6:52): Interview with the director, who discusses his philosophy on filmmaking. "Get passionate about a subject, and don't give up." He attributes his long career to making a variety of movies and gambling on risky projects. He aptly feels that good directors must be part psychologists, to understand the actors and crew.
"Disney Sci Fi" (2:45): A montage of clips from films such as "Escape to Witch Mountain," "The Rocketeer," "Tron," "The Cat from Outer Space," and "The Navigator."
"Disney Effects--Something Special" (11:03): Harrison Ellenshaw, a visual effects designer who also happens to be the son of famous Disney matte artist Peter, discusses the history of visual effects at the Disney studio. "20K Leagues Under the Sea" (1954) was the first visual effects film shot on the Disney lot. Ub Iwerks was the genius who accomplished many of the dazzling effects at Disney, and the man behind the the process lab. "Mary Poppins" and other films show how rich and artistic matte paintings could look on film, giving a special perfection not possible with location filming. "Dick Tracy" (1990) was pretty much the last Disney film to use the traditional photochemical processes & matte paintings. Today, most of these effects are handled digitally. A clip from "The Rookie" is shown, illustrating how a grip is digitally removed from the film. "Fix it in post" has become the standard line after a mistake is made.
"Disney Studio Album 1975": Shows clips from what was going on at the Disney Studio during that year: "Escape to Witch Mountain," "The Apple Dumpling Gang," "Strongest Man in the World," "One of our Dinosaurs is Missing," Debut of America On Parade (Disneyland), Mission to Mars (Disneyland), "No Deposit No Return" in production, "Crazy With the Heat" (reissue), "Pluto's Christmas Tree" (reissue), "Pluto's Housewarming" (reissue), "The Sky's The Limit" (TV), "The Boy Who Talked to Badgers" (TV), "The Secret of the Pond" (TV), and Welcome to the World--Space Mountain Opens at WDW.
"Pluto's Dream House" (1940): Mickey wants to build Pluto a new doghouse, and with the aid of an unseen Genie in a lamp, accomplishes his goal. Although enjoyable, it is extremely curious that Disney puts this on the DVD with no background or explanation, especially with its politically incorrect depiction of the genie (who sounds like he wandered off the set of Amos & Andy) and Pluto being painted in blackface and getting dubbed "Mammy." And yet, "Song of the South" remains in the vaults.
Featuring previews of Bolt, Disney XD, Tinkerbell & The Lost Treasure, Morning Light (inspiring true story of Roy Disney putting together a team of 15 inexperience sailors for a trip from LA to Honolulu), Snow White (on Blu-ray), and Bedtime Stories (Adam Sandler).
Pop-Up Fun Facts
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound (English & French), French & Spanish Subtitles. Audio is good and clear, but not especially outstanding.
Video: Widescreen (1.75:1), enhanced for 16x9 TVs. Picture is clear with good color, but definitely has a 70's soft feel.
The sequel, Return from Witch Mountain Special Edition is also now available."
The scriptwriters actually read the book!
Jane Mars | Stockton, CA United States | 05/23/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"While it is a truth universally acknowledged that a good novel is likely to be destroyed in Hollywood, at least this version of EtWM was made with respect to Key's novel. It's a good movie--Eddie Albert was good, and the kids were well-cast; the plot is the plot of the book (unlike other versions). If you have even a passing fancy for the plot, run, don't walk to your nearest source of Alexander Key novels. His sci-fi books are STILL some of my favorites, after 30 years. The Forgotten Door is still in print, and I've recently managed to dig used copies of some of the others up as well. They are absolutely worth it."
The original Walt Disney's Escape From Witch Mountain (1975
James McDonald | Southern California | 12/29/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a very popular Walt Disney film. If you were a child of the 1970's, you must have seen this film.
Even though Walt himself had died in 1966, the production company, Buena Vista, still made movies. Any movie advertised as "Walt Disney's" was a movie you knew you just had to see.
Tony Malone (Ike Eisenmann) and Tia Malone (Kim Richards) are exceptional children. Their foster parents have just passed and Tony and Tia now have a new home at the Pine Woods Orphanage. They are greeted by mrs. Grindley (Reta Shaw) who makes them feel welcomed. However, they have a kid bully, Truck (Dermott Downs) they have to deal with.
As you will see, Tony and Tia have special mental and physical powers to help them out of dangerous situations.
A spiteful man, Mr. Bolt (Ray Milland) wants the children as his own and tells his henchman (Donald Pleasence) to acquire the children.
Once at the mansion, the children have a strong feeling they should not be trusting Mr. Bolt as he is only interested in their powers.
They must escape. With the use of Tia's Star Case and the special help of the black cat, Winkie, they all make a getaway. They enlist the help of a man, Jason O'Day (Eddie Albert) to help them get to Witch Mountain.
Also in the cast: Lance Kerwin, Walter Barnes, Paul Sorensen, Al Dunlap, Kyle Richards, Denver Pyle.
Return from Witch Mountain Special Edition (1978), Ike Eisenmann & Kim Richards return for a new adventure.
Beyond Witch Mountain (1982-tv) Tv-movie and an episode with Edward Albert returning as "Jason O'Day". Andy Freeman & Tracey Gold are "Tony" & "Tia". It was broadcast on CBS, "Walt Disney".
Escape To Witch Mountain (1995-tv). Remake tv-movie broadcast on The Disney Channel. Erik Von Detten and Elizabeth Moss as "Danny" & "Anna".
Race to Witch Mountain (Two-Disc Extended Edition + Digital Copy) (2009). Alexander Ludwig as "Seth". AnnaSophia as "Sara". Ike Eisenmann as "Sheriff Anthony". Kim Richards as "Tina".
Note: Ike Eisenmann & Kim Richards also appeared in Devil Dog; Hound of Hell (1978-tv).
Gift for the Grandson @8
C. D. Cohron | Madison, MS United States | 11/11/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It was a gift and well received by our 8 year old grandson...he liked it."