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I've always regarded SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES ($25) as something of an under-appreciated little gem, one that too few people have ever had the chance to see. If you have never seen SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES, then this is a movie worth discovering for the first time. If you have already seen it, then DVD is the perfect place to re-discover the simple pleasures of this dark fantasy. SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES is based upon the novel by Ray Bradbury, who also wrote the film's screenplay.

The film is set in the heartland of America, during a far more innocent time and tells the tale of two young boys, Will Halloway (Vidal Peterson) and Jim Nightshade (Shawn Carson). It is October when Dark's Pandemonium Carnival arrives in their town, and like any young boys, Will and Jim are both eager to experience the thrills of the fairgrounds. On the surface, Dark's Pandemonium Carnival appears to be a common traveling side-show, however it doesn't take long for the two inquisitive lads to discover that neither it, nor it's proprietor Mr. Dark (Jonathan Pryce) are what the appear to be. Sneaking around after closing time, Will and Jim uncover the carnival's deadly secrets and are forced to flee from the lethal Mr. Dark. Scared, the boys confide in Will's father, Charles Halloway (Jason Robards), whom they hope will be able to save them and the town from the evil lurking behind the façade of the carnival.

The cast of SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES features Diane Ladd, Royal Dano, Arthur Hill, Angelo Rossitto, Mary Grace Canfield, James Stacy and Pam Grier in one of her most enigmatic roles. Even though SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES was produced by Disney, this movie is almost too dark to be a "Disney" movie. Perhaps that is why I like the film as much as I do. SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES is a genuinely rich and somewhat unnerving film, that may be a bit too intense for young children. Adults, however, are certain to find this to be rewarding cinematic experience.

SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES has come to DVD via the licensing agreement between Disney and Anchor Bay Entertainment. The dual layered DVD offers viewers a choice of full screen and wide screen presentations. Since this is a Disney title, there is absolutely no chance of the wide screen presentation being enhanced for 16:9 playback. While the Letterboxed presentation nicely recreates the film's 1.66:1 theatrical aspect ratio, the film element used for the transfer shows occasional blemishes that never become distracting. The image appears sharp and provides relatively good detail, including the numerous dark sequences. Colors are nicely reproduced, with natural looking flesh tones and respectable saturation. Neither chroma noise or digital compression artifacts degraded the image in any way.

The Dolby Digital 4.0 channel soundtrack provides a very pleasing sound field with good channel separation across the forward soundstage. Dialogue reproduction is very clean and the surround channels are surprisingly active, although not discrete. Still, they more than fill out the mix by enhancing the music and adding ambience to the sound field. James Horner's terrific score is well integrated into the mix and sounds quite good.

The interactive menus are very nicely done and incorporate sound and animation. Through the menu system one can access the scene selection feature (with full motion video previews), as well as a theatrical trailer.





DVD reviews are Copyright © 1999 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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