In Green Town, Illinois, the twelve year-old boys Will Halloway and Jim Nightshade are neighbors and best friends. Will's father Charles Halloway is an old man and the local librarian while Jim and his mother wait for the return of the return of their father and husband that will never occur. The boys know everyone in town, including their school teacher Miss Foley that misses her beauty and youth; the lonely barber Mr. Crosetti that has no girlfriend or wife; the greedy owner of a cigar store Mr. Tetley that is obsessed with money; and the bartender Ed that has severed arm and leg and dreams on being a football hero. One day, Jim buys a lightning rod from the salesman Tom Fury that tells that a storm is coming. During the night, the boys overhear a mysterious train and they run through the woods to see the arrival but they do not see a living soul. However, they find the Mr. Dark's Pandemonium Carnival ready to be enjoyed and they snoop around. Soon they realize that frustrated and ...Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Ray Bradbury's 'Something Wicked This Way Comes' is a classic novel about the transition from childhood to being an adult. It deals with becoming independent from our parents, the dread of loosing a loved one and the very real possibility of being alone in the world. There is also the classic morality story of there being no such thing as a free gift - there is always some price to be paid.
This is a very dark story set in the classic mid-Twentieth century America of a Rockwell painting. The most innocent of places with the very best people you could imagine. But underneath the pristine surface, there is something dark gnawing at their souls. When a carnival comes to town, blown in with the autumn winds, it begins to feed on the evil in the town.
As a piece of cinema this is truly gorgeous, best seen through a good film print or the laserdisk transfer. The opening scenes of the autumnal countryside are superlative and are almost too pretty to be true, which only serve to contrast the darkness of the later scenes.
The central performances are all absolutely excellent. Jason Robards is almost typecast as Mr Halloway, the decent American father, but manages to pull some subtleties out of what could have been a by-the-numbers performance. You are never in doubt that he really does love his son and the exchanges between them ring true. Halloway is a man with a lifetime of regrets; missed opportunities and poor decisions who realises that he is the only person standing in the way of evil. Robard's performance is magical; you can't help but empathise with him.
Particularly when evil is played by a young and rarely bettered Jonathan Pryce. As the sleek and lupine Mr. Dark he comes across as the ultimate Victorian villain - one moment charming, the next terrifying beyond belief. Wonderful delivery of fabulous lines raise this bad guy above almost others in recent movies. The conflict between Dark and Halloway in the library is an all-time classic, both spitting their lines in a scene that will have you on the edge of your seat.
The movie is aided by some top-notch effects that still look good in the CGI age. Once again the library scene is perfection, with effects being used to enhance the acting - not overwhelm it. As Dark tears pages from a book, they flare up, illuminating the scene briefly before returning it to gloom. It may not sound much, but compared to the modern orgies of graphics, it is a blessed relief.
'Something Wicked...' is one of the last horror movies that allowed the audience's own fears to do most of the work. It didn't play gross just to get a quick scream and a guilty laugh, it builds on the very real fears we have inside our heads and lets them do the hard work.
Bradbury adopted his own book into the movie and fortunately kept almost all of the material. A pre-Eisner Disney then made a neglected classic without worrying if the Sand Witch would look good in a burger chain promotion.
Oh and then there are the spiders, but that would be telling...
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