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Something Wicked This Way Comes

Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983)

April. 29,1983
| Fantasy Horror Mystery

In a small American town, a diabolical circus arrives, granting wishes for the townsfolk, but twisted as only the esteemed Mr. Dark can make them. Can two young boys overcome the worst the devil himself can deal out?


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Dalbert Pringle

Set in the late 19th Century - This well-produced Disney production is a rather tame (but, all the same, effective) little tale of terror. Its story was adapted for the screen from the novel of the same name, written by Ray Bradbury, who was also responsible for this film's screenplay.Told from a 12 year-old boy's point of view - This film's story is set in Green Town, USA (a typical mid-western, American town).It's late Autumn and a strange, travelling carnival, run by Mr. Dark, arrives (seemingly out of nowhere) and mysteriously sets itself up, in a matter of mere seconds, on the outskirts of town.Before long the forces of darkness begin to manifest themselves, casting a sleepy, hypnotic spell over all of the unsuspecting townsfolk. 2 terrified young boys soon discover that Mr. Dark, with all of his malevolent power and wickedness, intends to control the town and seize all of the innocent souls.This fantasy tale is an old-fashioned, even gentle, story of the supernatural, that seems, most likely, best appreciated by pre-teens.


In a small American town, a diabolical circus and its demonic proprietor (Jonathan Pryce) prey on the townsfolk.For some reason, I recall as a kid turning on the TV and this was on... and thinking it was pretty scary. Now, twenty years later, I am watching it and thinking I was a silly kid. I love horror movies and this would hardly even qualify. It has music very much like "Harry Potter", and is no scarier than anything from the series.Not to say it is a bad film. It is actually rather decent, and there is never a bad time to adapt a Ray Bradbury story. How faithful it is, I have no idea. I have not read nearly enough of his work. But it is interesting some of the parallels here with the work of Stephen King, primarily "It" or "Needful Things".

Claudio Carvalho

In Green Town, Illinois, the twelve year-old boys Will Halloway (Vidal Peterson) and Jim Nightshade (Shawn Carson) are neighbors and best friends. Will's father Charles Halloway (Jason Robards) is an old man and the local librarian while Jim and his mother wait for the return of their father and husband that will never occur. The boys know everyone in town, including their school teacher Miss Foley (Mary Grace Canfield) that misses her beauty and youth; the lonely barber Mr. Crosetti (Richard Davalos) that has no girlfriend or wife; the greedy owner of a cigar store Mr. Tetley (Jake Dengel) that is obsessed with money; and the bartender Ed (James Stacy) that has severed arm and leg and dreams on being a football hero. One day of Autumn, Jim buys a lightning rod from the salesman Tom Fury (Royal Dano) that tels that a storm is coming. During the night, the boys overhear a mysterious train and they run through the woods to see the arrival but they do not see a living soul. However, they find the Mr. Dark's Pandemonium Carnival ready to be enjoyed and they snoop around. Soon they realize that frustrated and greedy people are vanishing in town and the evil Mr. Dark (Jonathan Pryce) and the Dust Witch (Pam Grier) from the carnival make their dreams come true. In return, Mr. Dark seizes their souls. Now Mr. Dark is seeking the boys out but Charles Halloway has a journal from his father about the autumn carnival that might be their last chance to defeat the evil."Something Wicked This Way Comes" is an impressive movie with many layers with a story by Ray Bradbury. It is amazing how a story about greedy, vanity and shattered dreams can be seen and understood in different levels, depending on your age and life experience. The dialogs and lines are mature, but children will have a different understanding. Unfortunately this little gem is underrated and not well- known. My vote is eight.Title (Brazil): Not available on VHS, DVD or Blu-Ray


The devil-comes-to-town premise is one that Stephen King has practically built half his smelly career on. He has used it – or shall we say "ripped it off" – from Bradbury (and others) and turned it into countless formulaic stories and novels. Satan comes to a small town to wreck havoc, and it's always the same shticks, over and over, at least when it comes to his drivel. There are, however, worlds between how an intelligent, skillful writer such as Bradbury treated this idea and how a commercial, fluff-for-the-masses mediocrity such as King does. SWTWC is a moody, subtle, enjoyable take on the subject. King treats this type of story (his favourite story) with much more pomp, clichés, and very exaggerated and annoying small-town stereotypes – most of which reveal this left-winger's barely hidden resentment towards small-town folk (and people in general; perhaps he's just frustrated that nearly all of us are much prettier than him). King wrote these kinds of stories with the primary intention of dragging small-town America through the mud, because - as every good Marxist - he detests the success of democracy and Capitalism, and nothing annoys him more than religious folk. (I am an atheist myself, and yet I do not hate believers the way King does.) No such pathetic, sociopathic, misanthropic tendencies are to be found in SWTWC.The movie has an excellent visual quality; the photography, the look of the movie is reason enough to watch it. Most of the special effects stand up very well to today's CGI; there is very little of that miserable cheesy quality or hoakeyness that some 80s fantasy movies have. It's a Disney flick, but it strikes a fairly decent balance between a kid's movie and adult horror, although obviously leaning more toward the former. Nowadays, the Disney conglomerate would be hard-pressed to squeeze anything of quality out of its ravaged/fruitless Mickey Mouse butt, let alone make a movie that either kids (with taste) or adults (with brains) can like. (I do not count Pixar's movies as Disney produce.)The only "beef" I have with SWTWC centers around Jason Robards. No, not the actor himself; he is excellent, as always (one of the very few top-notch nepotists in Hollywood). I am referring first-and-foremost to the age difference between him and his wife, played by a useless nepotist that goes by the name of Ellen Geer; she was 42 at the time of filming, he was 61, which is simply ludicrous. Far from make-up reducing the difference between them, they actually look as if there's 30 years between them - though this is by no means intended as a compliment to the homely Geer. Robards looks like the kid's grandpa, not his father. The other thing that I found silly was Mr. Halloway's unlikely/exaggerated obsession with his failure to save his son from drowning a few years earlier. It would make perfect sense had his son drowned - but he didn't. Halloway (Robards) even states that he harbors ill-feelings toward the man who saved his son – which I find highly far-fetched and a bit of a leap; it would imply that the life of his son takes a backseat to his own Ego, i.e. the issue of whether he is a "real man" and brave father. Still, I guess the story needed some kind of "inner conflict" in order to make the all pieces fall together in the movie's evil-snuffs-it finale.For other film versions of Bradbury's material, I highly recommend "Fahrenheit 451", and especially the lesser-known, fairly ignored gem "The Illustrated Man".