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  • Widescreen 1.85:1
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  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
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    Return From Witch Mountain

    Buena Vista/Buena Vista . R4 . COLOR . 90 mins . G . PAL


    This 1978 sequel to 1975’s Escape to Witch Mountain is the usual limited interest affair of a sequel made because the possibility to make more money exists. It resembles the first film in that the characters are the same, though the premise is a little bit flawed.

    Our space age alien heroes from the first film, Tony and Tia (played by Ike Eisenmann and Kim Richards, reprising their roles) are vacationing in Los Angeles after working so hard on the Witch Mountain project (whatever that actually may be). They are in the cab on their way to a safehouse when Tony forecasts a man falling from a nearby building. In saving him, he alerts the cartoon-like evil bastards of Letha (Bette Davis) and Victor (Christopher Lee) who decide to kidnap him and use him for their own evil devices.

    Meanwhile Tia, searching for her brother, comes across four raggle taggle urchins who are in a gang called The Earthquakes and sport the unlikely gang names of Muscles, Rocky, Crusher and (snorts of laughter) Dazzler. Using their limited expertise of the neighbourhood, they help her locate Tony who is now under mind control of the nasties and being made to do things. Bad things.

    "I need that boy, Letha! I need him desperately!"

    After Tia thwarts many of their efforts they decide to hold LA to ransom by using the boy to create critical mass in a plutonium factory in the hills. One of thousands that operate in the area, I imagine…

    This is a lacklustre sequel not improved any by the limitless evil of Lee and Davis, though they do their bungling best to be good Disney villains. There seems to be much fun made of a truant officer in Mr. Yakamoto, who is played by Jack Soo, possibly the least Japanese person to play a Japanese person ever. Even his accent is obviously Hawaiian.

    If your little chilluns enjoyed the first film in this duology, or biology if you’d prefer, then this one is steaming lashings of more-of-the-same. However, the beauty of this one is that the audience doesn’t get a chance to get too far ahead of the characters as we did in the last one, making the trip just that littlest bit more effective and more interesting. The special effects don’t seem to be so lavish this time, with most being performed by the green screen and this does let the film down compared to the first one. And so, this leaves us with a fairly balanced set of films, straight from Disney to you (nearly 30 years on).


    Well, for a film of this one’s age it looks pretty good in its 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer. Colours are good and even and the picture quality is fairly sharp with only very rare artefacts popping in and out. Flesh tones are okay, though the levels of pancake makeup on the increasingly elderly Davis are more than obvious (as is the airbrush job on the cover pic). Shadow detail, while limited, is always fairly clear while blacks remain true. The green screen residue mentioned above is frequent unfortunately and blows holes in the film in that regard. There is some pretty cool stop motion animation used late in the film, regarding some unusual subject matter that is quite exciting for the time. It’s not really enough to save this from itself, however. One other exciting bit I should note is in the stuntwork executed during a particular car chase through LA. This is nice work for a Disney kid’s film that does impress.


    It’s a Dolby Digital stereo affair all the way here and this is more than adequate for the purposes of the film. Dialogue is all clear though occasionally wooden or timed a little late, while the sound effects all synch up nicely. The musical score of Lalo Schifrin is a fairly cool score, incorporating traditional strings for drama while going with the style of the time and featuring authentic wokka wokka ‘70s bass. Stone solid.


    Nothing to see here. All the aliens must have abducted them for probing or whatever it is they do up there.


    While this film is in no way lesser than the first in the series (or biology) it isn’t anything any better really either. The story is weak and fairly easily plotted for the kids to follow and remains fairly one-dimensional throughout. The special effects don’t seem as exciting this time around and in parts look downright shithouse, and even the performances of the diabolical Christopher Lee and Bette Davis can’t save what is a truly average spectacle. There’s a certain novelty in seeing the two kids three years on from the first film, but whoopie-doo really.

    To complete the set, sure, go ahead, but otherwise I’d treat this like the first and rent before buying.

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      And I quote...
    "A fairly flat-faced sequel without the depth of the first film – if such a thing can be said of the first film. There’s no real mystery this time, just a basic seek and destroy."
    - Jules Faber
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