Something Wicked This Way Come (1983)

In Film on August 23, 2004 at 9:46 am


Something Wicked This Way Come was based on a novel by Ray Bradbury that I’ve always wanted to read (but the book cover is too ugly :-(, hoping for a newly designed edition someday in future). The movie adaptation was made by Disney (uh-oh), so I could only imagine how water-down the final execution was. The story is about a strange carnival arrived at a small American town in the 20s. It has strange power that can grant the town folks’ greatest wishes.

Turns out the carnival owner, Mr. Dark (played by the wonderful Jonathan Pryce who’s so devilish sexy) is a Faustian devil figure who feeds on people’s deepest fear. There are quite a few cool ideas such as: an empty and sinister train arrived at 3:00am at night (a time when death often claimed people on deathbed), a Merry-Go-Round that turn your age back/forward in time when it spin, etc. Pam Grier played this mysterious Gypsy woman who has many different scary (but beautiful) look. For Disney standard it was surprisingly scary, such as a rather realistic long sequence involving two boys being attacked by hundreds of huge hairy spiders in the bedroom. Also a man’s hand was gripped with so much force that his brittle bone cracked and flesh was split open.

Even though I didn’t read the book, I can tell a lot were missing in the screen translation. All lost were the characterization (especially the minor characters), and the lack of depth and development in the relationship between the two boys (their friendship is supposed to be a major plot line, but I just couldn’t feel the emotional impact in the movie). The boys’ bad acting contributed much to it too. Also a lot of things worked metaphorically in text probably didn’t worked as effective as visual. Pity because it has so much potentials. This dark fairytale would be wonderful for a Tim Burton remake.

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