Something Wicked This Way Comes Revisited

(Welcome to Nostalgia Bomb, a series where we take a look back on beloved childhood favorites and discern whether or not they’re actually any good. In this edition: Walt Disney’s live action adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s brilliant novel, Something Wicked This Way Comes.)

“My dad disappeared on a trip to the Thousand Islands when I was thirteen years old. My father and I had to go home without him.”

I wrote those lines over twenty years ago as the opening of a personal essay called “The Island of Loss and Pancakes,” and while I won’t burden you with the specifics of the tale the gist of it was this. My dad was once a man of vitality with a desire for exploration who’d take me boating, fishing, and camping at every opportunity, and when we weren’t off cruising the St. Lawrence River, we’d be exploring altogether different frontiers with our cutting-edge Commodore 64 computer or the building of a slot-car race track hidden in the ceiling and only accessible via an elaborate system of pulleys. There was always something shared between us, something we could do together or talk about, and then one day among the islands bordering New York and Canada… there wasn’t.

The passage of time and of adulthood in general had taken a toll on him, and while I didn’t understand his regrets and stresses then, the effect they had on me was both immediate and long-lasting. It affected the choices I made going forward, the dreams I pursued and the ones I let pass me by, and to the (already overdue) point of this very article it changed the way I respond to certain types of stories onscreen.

Like the 1983 adaptation of Ray Bradbury‘s Something Wicked This Way Comes.

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Something Wicked This Way Comes remake

Whenever I stop to think about it, I’m always fairly amazed that the original Something Wicked This Way Comes doesn’t have a more enthusiastic pop-culture following. The Disney film, released in 1983, has a few big problems, sure. Yet it boasts a chilling autumnal atmosphere and an early performance from Jonathan Pryce. Furthermore, its story of a father/son pair, a dark carnival magician, and hidden desires given wing in a small town features several harrowing scenes that have always stayed with me since that first viewing in ’83.

Neither Disney nor the pop-culture machine have done much with the original, but the studio is handing the Ray Bradbury novel to Seth Grahame-Smith to adapt anew. He’ll draw up an outline for a Something Wicked This Way Comes remake before handing it off to a writer. Read More »