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Escape to Witch Mountain

Escape to Witch Mountain (1975) Movie Poster
  •  USA  •    •  97m  •    •  Directed by: John Hough.  •  Starring: Eddie Albert, Ray Milland, Donald Pleasence, Kim Richards, Ike Eisenmann, Walter Barnes, Reta Shaw, Denver Pyle, Alfred Ryder, Lawrence Montaigne, Terry Wilson, George Chandler, Dermott Downs.  •  Music by: Johnny Mandel.
       Two mysterious orphan children have extraordinary powers and are chased by a scheming millionaire. But where do these kids really call home?

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Image from: Escape to Witch Mountain (1975)
Image from: Escape to Witch Mountain (1975)
Image from: Escape to Witch Mountain (1975)
Image from: Escape to Witch Mountain (1975)
Image from: Escape to Witch Mountain (1975)
Image from: Escape to Witch Mountain (1975)
Image from: Escape to Witch Mountain (1975)
Image from: Escape to Witch Mountain (1975)
Image from: Escape to Witch Mountain (1975)
At the centre of this movie are two orphans, brother and sister Tony and Tia Malone. The surname "Malone" is that of their deceased adoptive parents; they know nothing of their real parents, although Tia has vague memories of her early childhood, including an accident at sea and of an uncle whom she believes drowned white trying to rescue them. The children also have strange psychic powers, including telekinetic abilities, powers of telepathic communication with one another and with animals, and the power to foretell future events.

Tia and Tony are placed in an orphanage, where they come to the attention of a millionaire named Aristotle Bolt. Bolt persuades his employee Lucas Deranian to poses as the children's uncle and, with the aid of forged documents, he is able to adopt them from the orphanage. Bolt then offers the supposed "family" a home in his luxurious mansion. His interest in the children, however, is not philanthropic; he is simply hoping to exploit their abilities for business purposes. Realising that Deranian is not really their uncle and that Bolt is not to be trusted, the children use their powers to escape. Bolt initiates a manhunt to recapture them, but they are sheltered by an eccentric elderly man named Jason O'Day who is touring the country in a motor home.

Although this is a children's film, it is one that I tend to remember more for the adults than for its rather anonymous child stars Kim Richards and Ike Eisenmann than for its adult actors; the most memorable child is probably the oddly-named Truck, the bully who makes the siblings' life a misery in the orphanage. Eddie Albert is in great form as Jason, a crusty, embittered yet strangely sympathetic widower, and there are two outstanding villains in the shape of Donald Pleasence as the smoothly plausible Deranian and Ray Milland as the ruthless and sinister Bolt, a man who can seem threatening even when he is ostensibly being beneficent.

The "Witch Mountain" of the title is the place to which the children make their way after their escape from Bolt's mansion and where they eventually discover the reason for their powers. Without giving too much away I can say that the explanation introduces a science-fiction element at a time when Hollywood was just starting to rediscover sci-fi. The genre had temporarily become unpopular after some dreadful examples in the fifties, but by the mid-seventies was starting to recover. The film came out in 1975, the same year as "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" and two years before the great sci-fi explosion caused by the success of "Star Wars".

"Escape to Witch Mountain" is not a grand spectacular along the lines of "Star Wars", but it is a well-made and engaging movie, officially made for children but the sort of thing that will keep adults entertained as well.


Review by James Hitchcock from the Internet Movie Database.