Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983)

something wicked poster

Two boys; Jim Nightshade and Will Halloway are best friends, and nearly complete opposites. Jim is adventurous, and Will is much more cautious, but this doesn’t stop them from having fun. Especially when they find a flyer for a mysterious circus that is due to arrive in town soon. On their way home from school a lightening rod salesman approaches them and tells the boys that there is a storm coming, and one of their houses will be struck by lightening, not phased by this Jim buys a lightening rod and nails it to the roof.  Later that night they hear a train whistle, and they steal out into the night only to discover that the circus is nearly completely set up.

The town is excited for the entertainment, and everyone heads out to the perfectly, not-at-all creepy circus, and certain townsfolk are singled out and given special passes. These people have holes in their lives, and wish for women, beauty, or even lost limbs. The totally not creepy owner of the circus, Mr. Dark, is happy to oblige, and grants their wishes without any price at all, except maybe their souls. Will and Jim see this happen a few times and also stumble across a Merry-Go-Round that makes you either older or younger depending on what direction it is going. Mr. Dark spots them, and the boys take off running. The Next day the circus parades through town, looking for the boys, and handing out more passes. Will and Jim hide out in the library and tell Will’s father (the librarian) of the dastardly plot by Mr. Dark. With a bit of research they learn that this circus blows into town every generation, and collects souls. Mr Dark shows up and delivers a beating to Mr. Halloway. Mr. Dark then scoops up Jim to take him to the carousel to fulfill Jim’s wish of being older. Will and his father give chase, and get caught in a mirror maze, and with the help of the lightening rod salesman they destroy all the mirrors, and head off to find Jim. Mr. Dark already has him on the carousel, and is getting ready to age him, when Will and his father snatch him off the ride, and instead age Mr. Dark a million years or so, and we watch him age horribly until he turns into a cheap rubber skeleton. Will and his father cry over Jim’s unconscious body until he wakes up, then they happily walk off into the sunrise.

Alex’s Thoughts: Ah, the early 80’s; when Disney was in the family-friendly horror biz. They sure tried to be edgy with movies like this, Mr. Boogity and The Black Cauldron, none of which were really much of a commercial success. I thought this was scary when I was 5, but now it is just sort of sad, and I now know that Jim’s mom was a prostitute!  That must have made old man Walt’s head spin in it’s freezer!  The only saving grace of this thing is the performance of the always great Jason Robards as Will’s pappy.  This thing is very dated and not really all that good to start with, so I would pass if I were you. Alex Rates This Movie 3/10.

Tim’s Thoughts:This is one of my favorite books of all time, and I remembered liking the movie as a kid. Now I wish I wouldn’t have watched it so I could still like it, because this is a severe disappointment. Even Bradbury came out and said that Disney ruined his vision, and I agree strongly. First of all, the music is completely wrong, and sets a misleading tone, second; they miscast not only Tom Fury, but also Charles Halloway, who seems way too old to be the father. Not to mention the goofy things they do with Mr. Cooger, and the Dust Witch, ugh, it’s too frustrating to talk about. Please somebody remake this!! It could be so good. Skip the movie and read the book, it’s not very long, and reads like poetry. Tim Rates This Movie 3/10


View the IMDB entry for this movie here.