(The Disneycember logo is shown, before showing clips from Something Wicked This Way Comes. Really creepy piano music plays throughout)
Doug (vo): So a lot of people have been requesting Something Wicked This Way Comes, which is interesting, 'cause when the film came out, it was a major bomb. It didn't even make half of its money back. And truth be told, I never even heard of it until I was like maybe in the 9th grade. I remember it was being shown in my school as an understanding of Ray Bradbury's work and all the kids were so excited. "Something Wicked This Way Comes! Oh, I love that movie!" I was kinda wondering how I missed it as I thought I saw all the really dark 80s kids films that came out around that time. I say this to point out that this is not a film I grew up with, so I'm not really gonna let the nostalgia factor get in the way. But that doesn't necessarily make it a bad film, I just don't think I love it like everybody else loves it.
Doug (vo): The movie centers around two boys, one named Will Holloway and the other named, get this, Jim Nightshade. God, how does Bradbury find these incredible names? They're often seen around Will's father who's an old librarian, and they spend most of their time just getting into trouble, all sorts of typical boy stuff. But then one night, a carnival arrives, and I mean literally one night, it's all put together in a matter of just a few minutes. And this has been put together by Dr. Dark, played by Jonathan Pryce. He welcomes people to the carnival, but the boys figure out that slowly but surely, it seems to be sucking away people's souls, apparently draining their life force and messing with their actual age. Of course, nobody believes the boys' story, so it's up to them to figure out how to stop this evil monster.
Doug (vo): I get the feeling even if I saw this as a little kid, I wouldn't find it very scary, but it is pretty creative. The atmosphere and characters especially make up for the fact that the story itself is not phenomenally interesting, or at least kind of slow-moving. They kind of go through the typical run-of-the-mill stuff of people not believing them, trying to convince those that will believe them, foiling the charismatic diabolical villain, all that good stuff. It's not a film that screams exciting or super creepy, it's more of a laid back kind of elegant film. It's hard to explain, it's like the creepy stuff doesn't come out at you and say "Boo!", it's more building up this environment that slowly is trying to get you without you necessarily even knowing it.
(We see clips of Dr. Dark, the film's villain)
Doug (vo): And at the foreground of that is Jonathan Pryce, who is just perfect as the villain. He never goes quite too over-the-top, but at the same time, he's just so graceful and loving of what he does. Just look at that outfit, you can tell he wears that suit with such incredible charisma. But at the same time, he's never too charming that he's not scary. A kid can still look at him and know he's the bad guy.
(We see clips of the film's other characters)
Doug (vo): I really like Will's father in this, too. You just get the feeling he's trying to make ends meet, be a good person, just do what needs to be done. But at the same time, life is starting to wear on him and he just doesn't know what to believe in anymore. This, of course, is a great contrast for the kids who see all sorts of fantastic things, but have a hard time making the adults of the world realize it. A part of me does wish it would go a little further with its creepy imagery and disturbing thoughts. Why not get a few more monsters or go a little bit edgier? I think that's why people still talk about films like Return to Oz and Sleepy Hollow and so forth because they did take risks, and while this one certainly has a lot of atmosphere, it doesn't really try anything that different. Okay, I don't need Monster Squad-style violence, but just something to make it stand out a little bit more.
(As Doug says that, we see probably one of the most shocking moments ever in a Disney film. We see a kid get his head chopped off by a guillotine, his severed head lands in a basket. The caption "WTF WAS UP WITH THIS SCENE?" appears on screen)
Doug (vo): But then again, maybe you could argue that's a part of its charm. It's not an "in your face" movie, it's not a very obvious monster film. The journey and the build-up and the suspense maybe is what the star is supposed to be. It is a kids film after all, and after hearing all the people that talk about it and remember it, I guess it did leave a bigger impact than I imagine it probably would.
Doug (vo): It's a good film, I just don't think it's great. I think I get more sucked into the foggy shadows than I do the actual characters or story. But they still suck me in enough to wanna know what's gonna happen in the end. If you're looking for one of those classic intense 80s kids films that are super dark and super shocking, this probably isn't it for you. But if you're looking for something to just put on that has a lot of atmosphere and a bit of a creepy vibe, this might be more up your alley. Think something like Are You Afraid of The Dark? except a little smarter and more elegant. Check it out next Halloween and see for yourself.
(The film's final scene, showing Will, his father, and Jim walking away together, is shown)