Get Ready To Go Back To Witch Mountain, Again

Illustration for article titled Get Ready To Go Back To Witch Mountain, Again

Disney is readying another Witch Mountain movie, although they're calling it a "re-imagining" and not a remake. Probably since they already went down the remake route 10 years ago. The new movie will be called Race To Witch Mountain, and may feature Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as someone determined to squash all of your childhood memories. It's even being directed by Andy Fickman, who gave you The Rock in The Game Plan. Hollywood, please let us know when you decide to stop pillaging the past and start making some cool new original stuff, like the first Witch Mountain movies, which are the subject of today's triviagasm. Everything you wanted to know about these great movies featuring alien kids in the 1970s below.

  • The 1975 movie was based on the 1968 book of the same name by Alexander Key. Sadly, most of his novels, including Sprocket: A Little Robot and Bolts: A Robot Dog, are out of print. You can read and download some of these here.
  • Don't let the name fool you, Escape To Witch Mountain isn't about witches at all, but about super-powered alien kids who don't know they're aliens.
  • Remember the creepy and slightly spooky overture music? If not, you can hear it right here.
  • In fact, want to watch the opening credit sequence? Well, here you go.
  • Tony and Tia, the original Wonder Twins, both possess telekinesis, although Tony can only use it when he plays his harmonica. Tia can also telepathically speak to mammals, and to Tony. Looks like she got the lion's share of the cool stuff.
  • Unlike Zan and Jayna, Tony and Tia have difficulty controlling their powers, which leads to several mishaps. Like Tia having to free every captive animal who can talk to her.
  • Tony was played by Ike Eisenmann, who Trek fans will immediately recognize as Midshipman Peter Preston, who Scotty brings to the bridge of the Enterprise in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Perhaps if he'd taken the mortally wounded kid to sick bay, he might have survived.
  • Kim Richards, who plays Tia, is the aunt of both Nicky and Paris Hilton, which isn't really that interesting, but more mind-boggling.
  • Both Ike and Kim would be reunited as brother and sister in the extremely forgettable Devil Dog: The Hound of Hell TV movie in 1978.
  • The Twins' Uncle Bene is played by Denver Pyle, better known as Uncle Jesse from The Dukes of Hazzard, which Kim Richards later appeared on as Cooter's daughter. Now that's just weird.
  • They encounter Jason O'Day (Eddie Albert) who lives in a Winnebago and travels around the country. He ends up helping them out, and probably made kids everywhere think Winnebago's were cool. (I know it did for me, in fact my parents bought me a little scale model Winnie after I saw this movie). Get Ready To Go Back To Witch Mountain, Again
  • The bad guy in the movie, Aristotle Bolt, seems like a genial rich man who just want to save kids from the orphanage. Of course, he really wants the twins for their abilities. However, he does have a pretty cool name and lived in a replica of a Byzantine castle that was built by Templeton Crocker between 1926 and 1934 from lava rock from Mt. Vesuvius and materials gathered all over Europe.
  • The twins eventually discover (via their little leather "star case") that they are actually aliens from a binary star system who fled to Earth because their own world was dying. They're reunited with others from their planet, and they fly off in their spaceship for the sanctuary of Witch Mountain, never to return.
  • That is until Disney made a sequel, Return From Witch Mountain, in 1978. In this movie, Tony and Tia have been training hard to use their powers and to learn about their own kind. In fact, they've been working so hard that the elders let them have a vacation in Los Angeles. What, two superkids on a vacation in L.A.? Nothing could possibly go wrong, right?
  • If you want to see a movie trailer that says 1970s as loud of possible, then you're in for a treat. This trailer for Return features Christopher Lee, Bette Davis, andthe words "far out," "molecular mobilization," and "intergalactic energization." Is it me, or does that announcer sound like the guy from the old Batman TV show?
  • In the sequel, Christopher Lee plays evil mad scientist Dr. Victor Gannon, and he uses a mind-control device he's invented on Tony, eventually pitting twin against twin in a battle of telekinesis. Bette Davis plays Letha Wedge (what a name), who has been financing the bad doctor's experiments.
  • Sadly, there's no Eddie Albert in the sequel. It was also Jack Soo's final film, having been best known for playing Det. Sgt. Nick Yemana on Barney Miller. It was probably the coffee.
  • In 1982 Disney made a television pilot called Beyond Witch Mountain, which featured a return of Eddie Albert as Jason and his Winnebago, but they recast everyone else, from the kids all the way to down to Aristotle Bolt. This was meant to become an ongoing series with the kids and Jason finding other alien kids and helping them get back home, but it never got that far and never went to series.
  • Disney remade the original film back in 1995, with some major changes to the script. The twins are now named Danny and Anna, and they are separated as infants (who have full-fledged telekinesis), but are later reunited accidentally when they're older. Land developer Edward Bolt (the always evil Robert Vaughn) finds out about their powers, and plans to use them to blow up the entrance to Witch Mountain... without explosives. Way to use that power, Edward.
  • It wasn't as charming as the original movie, and wasn't nearly as well received. You can find out why by watching the first 10 minutes right here.

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I just Netflix'd both original Witch Mountain movies not that long ago. The first one holds up pretty well — sure, it's hokey and 70s, but in a good way. The 2nd one is appallingly bad but still entertaining.

I just wasted ten minutes of my life watching the remake clip, and it's baffling how people who make films for a living could so screw up such a simple job: remake Witch Mountain. I don't see that there was much that needed tweaked in order to update it, and what did the useless seven minute prelude add to the story? Exactly nothing. Also, lame voiceover much. I always like to add a voiceover to my films from a peripheral character who faints at the first sign of the plot.

The bully in the first movie was WAY tougher than this Evil Child — tricking someone onto a slide into a pile of leaves — the BASTARD!

And why is the boy so floppy-haired, boy-band pretty but the girl is kind of unusual-looking (ooo! alien!).

Disney: Next time just give me the money. I'll buy some nice things—heck, I'll even go visit your theme parks—and you can rerun the original version of the film. I think we'll both feel a lot better about where that money went.