Escape To Witch Mountain (Special Edition)

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Rating: G

Starring:
Eddie Albert as Jason
Ray Milland as Aristotle Bolt
Donald Pleasence as Lucas Deranian
Kim Richards as Tia
Ike Eisenmann as Tony
Walter Barnes as Sheriff Purdy
Reta Shaw as Mrs. Grindley
Denver Pyle as Uncle Bene
Alfred Ryder as Astrologer
Lawrence Montaigne as Ubermann
Terry Wilson as Biff Jenkins

Special Features:

Commentary by director John Hough and Actors Kim Richards and Ike Eisenmann

Making The Escape

Conversations With John Hough

Classic Disney Cartoon – Plutos’ Dream House

Lost Treasure: “Disney Effects, Something Special” Featurette

1975 Disney Studio Album “Disney Sci-Fi”

Other Info:
Widescreen (1.75:1) – Enhanced for 16×9 Televisions
Dolby 5.1 Digital Surround Sound
THX Certified
Running Time: 97 Minutes

Synopsis:
This film is based on the book by the same name.

Tia and Tony are two orphans with mysterious powers. They are able to communicate telepathically and move things with their minds. However, they remember very little of their past. They don’t remember what happened to their parents or how they got their powers.

One day they use their powers to save Lucas Deranian. He is astounded by what they are able to do. Little do Tia and Tony know that he’s part of a criminal organization. Lucas arranges to take care of the children and he starts his plans to use their powers to commit crimes. As the kids begin to realize what he’s up to, they also have a revelation about their past – they are aliens.

Their parents crash-landed on earth and the kids were the only survivors. Now they must make their way to Witch Mountain where their other alien family members will pick them up and take them home. First they must escape the clutches of Lucas and his superiors. The only hope for Tia and Tony lay with Jason, an elderly man on the road with a camper.

Escape To Witch Mountain is rated G.

The Movie:
Escape To Witch Mountain is yet another Disney film that I grew up with. I really enjoyed it and the story is still great today. You can see what makes it great because elements of today’s popular films are easily seen within it. There are similarities between this film and Harry Potter, E.T., and other popular films. Children love imagining they have super powers, encountering aliens, and being the hero that saves the day. These films have all of that.

The cast is great. The children, played by Kim Richards and Ike Eisenmann are perfect. They look like real life siblings though they aren’t related at all. They represented the every-kid that children could all relate to. Donald Pleasence has always been a classic villain while Eddie Albert is one of the great character actors of film. Together they all make an excellent cast of characters for the story.

About the only things that don’t hold up today are the special effects. The scenes with green screen look particularly bad, though the effects done with wires manage to withstand the test of time and they still look good. The music, though, is another victim of aging.

This film inspired the sequel, Return From Witch Mountain. I think it might be cool for Disney to make a sequel to these films rather than yet another remake of their older films. It would certainly be interesting to catch up with these characters so many years later. I think there’s a lot of story potential there.

The Extras:
I think Disney continues to do a first-rate job of reissuing their older films. The extras on this DVD continue to follow the trend. The menus are also pretty cool with a comic book look to them. Here are some highlights from the extras:

Commentary by director John Hough and Actors Kim Richards and Ike Eisenmann – This is a fun commentary to listen to. As Richards and Eisenmann watch the film, it seems like old friends watching home movies for the first time in quite a while. It’s a treat to hear them reminisce about their experiences on set and laugh about their acting and youthful looks. It’s obvious that Hough’s commentary was recorded at a later date as the three never interact in the commentary. This is a fun commentary to listen to and one worth checking out.

Making The Escape – This is a 20-minute “Making Of” video. It’s great to see the kids all grown up. (Kim Richards shows a picture of her numerous kids!) Ike Eisenmann gets particularly emotional talking about how people still come up to him today thanking him for the film. They discuss the effects, the challenges of bring the film to screen, shooting at a real orphanage, and more. It’s a very interesting and thorough look at the making of the film.

Conversations With John Hough – This is a short interview with the director. He talks about how he got into film, how he came on board with Walt Disney, and more. It’s a short feature but an interesting piece of cinema history.

Classic Disney Cartoon – Plutos’ Dream House – This cartoon was shown before the theatrical release of the movie, so it is included again here on the DVD. It’s quite a nice little treat to be added.

Lost Treasure: “Disney Effects, Something Special” Featurette – This is a great documentary on the making of the effects for Escape To Witch Mountain as well as some of the effects from other films. Matte paintings are a big topic of discussion and they show some of the bigger ones done for 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, Dick Tracy, and more. It’s a fun feature for anyone interested in special effects.

1975 Disney Studio Album “Disney Sci-Fi” – This is a series of clips from Disney’s sci-fi films including TRON, The Rocketeer, 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, and even Armageddon.

The Bottom Line:
Overall, this is another good reissue that I think both children and adults can enjoy together. It’s a worthy addition to your DVD collection.

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