Friday Night At The Movies – Something Wicked This Way Comes

1983 Disney Bradbury adaptation.  You heard me.

What is wrong with me?  I’m more gullible than any movie watcher on the planet.  I read a review of something, toss it on my Netflix queue and forget about it until it ends up in my home.  I really need to have a look through that queue with a more critical eye.  I damn well should have known that “Disney”, “Bradbury”, “Horror” and “1983” was a lethal combination in Something Wicked This Way Comes.

For those like me who have not read the short story by Ray Bradbury, both it and its movie incarnation involve a small town, a carnival and the earthly desires of men.  Dreams come true, but with a price, when the Dark Carnival comes to town.

Yeah, it’s a plotline that’s been riffed a thousand times.  Stephen King’s Needful Things, the entire 4th season of Heroes, you name it.  Carnivals are as inherently creepy as clowns.  But this movie is more crappy than creepy.

Before anyone cries foul, I know that Bradbury wrote the screenplay.  That means nothing to me.  Writers of books do not necessarily make good writers of screenplays.  And yeah, I’ll fall right back to Stephen King for proof.  Anyone seen Maximum Overdrive?

Anyway –  on with the bad.  First, the two boys who play the main characters are horrible actors and kill nearly every scene with the wooden delivery of their hokey dialogue.  Second, the hokey, cornball dialogue.  Third, special effects that look like something from the fifties – and not in a good or funny way.  Fourth – two peripheral characters who appeared on the Andy Griffith Show – a taint almost impossible to shake (I love me some Andy, but Howard Sprague needs to stay Howard Sprague).  Fifth – a score by James Horner that makes me think he was watching a Little House on the Prairie marathon while writing this thing.  Something Wicked This Way Comes was not made for TV, but you could have fooled me with the garbage production values.

Now on to the good.  First, Jason Robards and Jonathan Pryce make for very, very good upstanding citizen and evil baddie, respectively.  Even if Robards is a walking advertisement against too much dental intervention.  The basic story is excellent and the movie did make me want to read it.  That’s really the best thing I got out of it.

Something Wicked This Way Comes was a bomb for a Friday Night Movie selection, but everything has a silver lining.  Never again will I blindly rent something without checking for the word “Disney” in the credits.  At least then I’ll know what I’m getting into.

Read more about Friday Night Movies.  Tradition is good.

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