“We don’t know why we do all these things… We don’t know how it all started.”
Two orphans (Kim Richards and Ike Eisenmann) with psychic powers and vague memories of surviving a watery crash are discovered by a man (Donald Pleasance) working for a greedy tycoon (Ray Milland) eager to exploit the kids’ powers to earn more money. When the siblings learn they’re trapped in Milland’s house, they engineer an escape to a mysterious place shown on the top of Richards’ special box, relying on help from a curmudgeonly trucker (Eddie Albert).
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Donald Pleasance Films
- Eddie Albert Films
- Psychic Powers
- Ray Milland Films
This live-action Disney filmed received a not-so-resounding review from Vincent Canby of the New York Times, who noted that “Escape to Witch Mountain is a Walt Disney production for children who will watch absolutely anything that moves.” Forty-three years later, the film doesn’t really hold up well as sci-fi/fantasy (the Harry Potter franchise has outdone it by a long stretch), but it possesses a charm that’s of-its-era — and it’s easy to see why it appealed to young audiences at the time. Richards and Eisenmann are plucky, resourceful, insightful kids who find ways to survive in a world with questionably motivated adults around every corner. Richards’ flashbacks to an event she can’t quite piece together but knows has something to do with their origins are nicely interspersed throughout the screenplay, with images literally gaining more clarity as more is revealed. None of this is to say that Escape to Witch Mountain will hold much interest to adults; it likely won’t. But it’s reasonably effectively made (for its time), and film fanatics may enjoy seeing Albert in a critical role as the kids’ eventual accomplice.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Some effective direction and cinematography
- An appropriately eerie score
No; feel free to skip this one unless it brings you fond memories.
3 thoughts on “Escape to Witch Mountain (1975)”
An enjoyable family film. It may not be as elaborate as the modern family movies like Harry Potter et al but more often than not I’d rather watch EfWM’s (and it’s equally good sequel) simpler, quieter charms. Disney tried rebooting the franchise a couple of times with Beyond Witch Mountain (1982 a TV pilot for a series that never happened) and Race to Witch Mountain (2009) but I never saw either. There was also a 1995 remake of Escape from.
I personally recommend this modest little family film but it’s no longer a must see.
First viewing. Not must-see.
Whatever (limited) charm it may have had on its release has vanished. The screenplay is rather clunky and the direction is sluggish. The best science-fiction films contain a sense of urgency to them but this film has none. It’s also overly talky. By the time the film reaches its somewhat-confusing conclusion, it simply wraps up as a dull disappointment.
The only plus-factor here is seeing Pleasance giving an atypical performance of restrained intelligence. Not that that matters much for the film overall.