Escape to Witch Mountain (1975)

Genres - Adventure, Children's/Family, Fantasy, Action  |   Sub-Genres - Adventure Drama, Escape Film, Children's Fantasy  |   Release Date - Mar 21, 1975 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 97 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - G
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One would not normally think of using the words "Disney" and "thriller" in the same sentence but Escape To Witch Mountain is a happy exception to that idea. Though geared towards a younger audience, the script never cops out or talks down to its viewers -- instead, it delivers an engaging mystery story paced with plenty of effects-laden setpieces. Escape To Witch Mountain benefits greatly from the confident direction of John Hough, who brings the thriller-crafting skills he developed on films like The Legend Of Hell House and Dirty Mary Crazy Larry into play here. He gives the film a bracing style full of mobile camerawork -- the many car-chase scenes are truly thrilling thanks to the visceral visual style - and effective editing that grabs the viewer's attention (the latter aspect is best illustrated through Tia's frequent flashbacks). It's a pleasant surprise that he shows a nice talent for Disney-style whimsy, as well: the best example is a delightful scene where Tony uses his telekinetic ability to bring a roomful of marionettes to life. That said, Escape To Witch Mountain's appeal is sealed by a series of excellent performances: Ike Eisenmann and Kim Richards make a charismatic, down-to-earth pair of young heroes while Eddie Albert adds gruff charm as their reluctant protector and Ray Milland and Donald Pleasance make a slyly menacing pair of villains. To sum up, Escape To Witch Mountain is one of Disney's best live-action efforts from the 1970's and a thriller that adults can enjoy along with their kids.