Something Wicked This Way Comes (film)

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Something Wicked This Way Comes
Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983 movie poster).jpg
Theatrical release poster by David Grove
Directed by Jack Clayton
Produced by Peter Douglas
Written by Ray Bradbury
John Mortimer
Based on Something Wicked This Way Comes 
by Ray Bradbury
Starring Jason Robards
Jonathan Pryce
Diane Ladd
Pam Grier
Narrated by Arthur Hill
Music by James Horner
Cinematography Stephen H. Burum
Edited by Barry Mark Gordon
Art J. Nelson
Production
  company
Walt Disney Productions
Bryna Productions
Distributed by Buena Vista Distribution
Release date(s) April 29, 1983
Running time 95 min.
Language English
Budget $19,000,000 (estimated)
Box office $8,400,000

Something Wicked This Way Comes is a 1983 Disney horror fantasy film directed by Jack Clayton from a screenplay written by Ray Bradbury based on his novel of the same name. The film stars Jason Robards, Jonathan Pryce, Diane Ladd, and Pam Grier. It was shot in Vermont and at the Walt Disney Studios.

Plot Synopsis[edit]

In Greentown, Illinois, a small town enjoying the innocence of an upcoming autumn as the days grow shorter, two young boys—reserved Will Halloway and somewhat rebellious Jim Nightshade—leave from an after-school detention for "whispering in class" and hurry off for home. When the boys hear about a strange traveling carnival, Mr. Dark's Pandemonium Carnival, from a lightning-rod salesman, they decide to see what it is all about, but Will is fearful, as most carnivals end their tours after Labor Day. When the ominous Mr. Dark, the Illustrated Man, rides into town on a dark midnight, setting up his massive carnival in a matter of seconds, the boys are both thrilled and terrified. It seems to be just another carnival at first, but it is not long before the forces of darkness begin to manifest from the haunting melodies of the carousel—which can change your age depending on which way you ride it—and from the glaring Mirror Maze. With his collection of freaks and oddities, such as the Fat Man, Mr. Electro, and the blind Dust Witch, Dark intends to take control of the town and seize more innocent souls to damn. It will take all the wit and hope of the two boys to save their families and friends, with aid from an unlikely ally, Will's father, the town librarian, who understands more than anyone else that "something wicked this way comes."

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

In 1977, Bradbury sold the film rights to Something Wicked This Way Comes to Paramount. He and director Jack Clayton, whom Bradbury had previously worked with on Moby Dick, produced a completed script. However, production never began and the film was eventually put into turnaround.

At this time Walt Disney Pictures was concentrating on films with more mature themes in an attempt to break free from their stereotype as an animation and family film studio. After the success of family-oriented fantasy pictures by competing studios, such as Time Bandits and The Dark Crystal, Disney decided to purchase the adaptation's rights and hired Bradbury to produce a new script from scratch.[1]

The studio sought Bradbury's input on selecting a cast and director, and he suggested Clayton feeling they had worked well together at Paramount. In a 1981 issue of Cinefantastique, Bradbury stated that his top choices to play Mr. Dark were Peter O'Toole and Christopher Lee. However, Disney decided to go with a relatively unknown actor instead in order to keep the budget down, and Jonathan Pryce was eventually cast. As the film progressed, two differing visions emerged for the film, with Bradbury wishing to stay as faithful to the novel as possible, and Clayton wanting to make a more accessible and family friendly film. The two became estranged when Clayton hired writer John Mortimer to do an uncredited revision of Bradbury's screenplay at the studio's behest.[2]

For the original score, Clayton picked Georges Delerue who had scored his films The Pumpkin Eater and Our Mother's House.

The original themes of Bradbury's novel, the suggestion of menace, the autumn atmosphere of an American Midwest township and the human relationships between characters that attracted Clayton escaped preview audiences completely with Clayton heavily criticized. New special effects sequences were shot and a new score by composer James Horner replaced Delerue's original work.[3] Initial test screenings did not fare well with audiences, and Disney re-commissioned Bradbury to write an opening narration sequence and new ending. Disney also spent an additional US$5 million on refilming, re-editing, and rescoring the picture. Bradbury referred to the film's final cut as "not a great film, no, but a decently nice one."[4]

Reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

The film made $8.4 million at the domestic box office against its $19 million budget, grossing a little less than half of its costs.

Critical reception[edit]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun Times gave the film three-and-a-half stars and said

It's one of the few literary adaptations I've seen in which the film not only captures the mood and tone of the novel, but also the novel's style. Bradbury's prose is a strange hybrid of craftsmanship and lyricism. He builds his stories and novels in a straightforward way, with strong plotting, but his sentences owe more to Thomas Wolfe than to the pulp tradition, and the lyricism isn't missed in this movie. In its descriptions of autumn days, in its heartfelt conversations between a father and a son, in the unabashed romanticism of its evil carnival and even in the perfect rhythm of its title, this is a horror movie with elegance.[5]

Janet Maslin said the film "begins on such an overworked Norman Rockwell note that there seems little chance that anything exciting or unexpected will happen. So it's a happy surprise when the film... turns into a lively, entertaining tale combining boyishness and grown-up horror in equal measure;" according to Maslin, "The gee-whiz quality to this adventure is far more excessive in Mr. Bradbury's novel than it is here, as directed by Jack Clayton. Mr. Clayton, who directed a widely admired version of The Turn of the Screw some years ago, gives the film a tension that transcends even its purplest prose."[6]

The film currently holds a 60% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 25 reviews.

Accolades[edit]

It won the 1984 Saturn Award for Best Fantasy Film and Saturn Award for Best Writing; it was nominated for five others including best music for James Horner and best supporting actor for Jonathan Pryce. The film was also nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation and Grand Jury Prize at the Avoriaz Fantastic Film Festival.

Remake[edit]

According to Deadline, Disney are making a remake of Something Wicked This Way Comes with Seth Grahame-Smith making his directorial debut and produced with David Katzenberg from their producing banner KatzSmith Productions, also, Grahame-Smith wants to focus mostly on Ray Bradbury's source material from the book.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0086336/trivia?ref_=tt_trv_trv
  2. ^ Weller, Sam (2005). The Bradbury Chronicles: The Life of Ray Bradbury. New York: William Morrow. pp. 306–309. ISBN 0-06-054581-X. 
  3. ^ Lerouge, Stephanie Georges Delerue Unused Scores 2011 CD liner notes
  4. ^ Bradbury, Ray (2005). Bradbury Speaks: Too Soon from the Cave, Too Far from the Stars. New York: William Morrow. p. 10. ISBN 0-06-058568-4. 
  5. ^ Ebert, Roger (April 29, 1983). "Something Wicked This Way Comes". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved December 16, 2012. 
  6. ^ Maslin, Janet (April 29, 1983). "Disney's Bradbury". The New York Times. Retrieved December 16, 2012. 
  7. ^ Fleming, Mike. "Disney, Seth Grahame- Smith Making New Film Of Ray Bradbury’s ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’". Deadline. Retrieved 2014-03-12. 

External links[edit]