Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Remake Comparison Project - Escape to the Unknown!

Cody and Priscilla go on a family friendly adventure with Escape to Witch Mountain 1975 and 1995.

Every now and then Cody and I like to do something different. We've ventured outside of the horror world a few times before, but this is the first time we share our thoughts on children's movies. Though the original Escape to Witch Mountain has some obvious suspense and horror elements. This is also kind of a special one due to the very different experiences both of us had with the movies.


Alexander H. Key wrote many novels over a span of several decades, but none other reached the level of success that his 1968 novel Escape to Witch Mountain did. With that book, Key crafted a story that enticed Disney to purchase the film rights to it and attempt to build a franchise out of it.

Released in 1975, the film version of Key's story was scripted by Robert M. Young, who had more than a decade of primarily television work to his name at that point, and directed by John Hough, who was coming straight off the success of the 1973 horror classic The Legend of Hell House and the 1974 car chase movie Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry. Hough did have some kids' movie experience as well, having worked on Robin Hood and Treasure Island projects.

I always thought that the "kid's horror movie" vibe I got from Escape to Witch Mountain was due to watching it at a very young age, but revisiting it as an adult and knowing more about Hough's background brings perfect sense to the feeling.

Hough also made a movie in 1970 that sounds like a thriller version of the Escape to Witch Mountain concept. It's called Sudden Terror and is about a young brother and sister going on the run with their grandfather after witnessing an assassination. I haven't seen it, but after watching Witch Mountain I'm wanting to check it out.

I'm very curious about it. I'd love to check it out as well.

The film begins with the arrival of young siblings Tony (Ike Eisenmann) and Tia (Kim Richards) at the Pine Woods orphanage, where they have been sent to live after the death of their adoptive parents, the Malones. They don't know where they came from before being taken in by the Malones, but Tia has very foggy memories of some kind of tragedy at sea, memories that will become more and more clear to her as time goes on.

Tia's mysterious flashbacks have always been one of my favorite things about the movie. Watching it as a kid, it really grabs your attention and even gets you a little bit spooked.

At first, Tony and Tia seem like a pair of normal, polite kids, but during a baseball game they start to display telekinetic and telepathic abilities. Tia uses her mind to lift Tony off the ground so he can jump high enough to catch a ball, and then - despite her telepathic warnings to him - Tony uses telekinesis to defend himself against a bully called Truck (Dermott Downs).

We'll later be told that Tony can only use his telekinetic power while playing a harmonica to ease his mind, but he's not playing the harmonica when he's dealing with Truck. It's the only time in the movie that he uses his powers without the harmonica, they'll even go out of their way to make sure he has it, so this scene is kind of strange.

I had never thought about that before, mainly because most of my viewings of Escape to Witch Mountain took place during my childhood, but it is a little weird, though they do make it very clear that Tia is the one who has complete control of her powers. Seems to me like Tony was still somewhat trying to get a hold on things at that point.

Tia is upset by the situation with Truck because the siblings had promised not to use this "spooky stuff" in front of others anymore, having been considered freaks by other kids in the past.

Then she shouldn't have levitated Tony in the first place! Crazy kids.

I think she said that because Tony wasn't completely able to handle his powers. As in, it was safe for her to do it because she knew exactly how to control it, but not him.

The next time Truck bothers them, taking the "star case" that Tia carries around, something she has had as long as she can remember, they don't even need to use their powers to thwart him - their black cat Winkie knocks the case out of the bully's hands.

Winkie is so cute, and Truck is extremely annoying.

Truck is a pain, but Dermott Downs definitely makes an impression in the role. It's good to see that he is still in the entertainment industry, although mostly as a director these days.

The siblings also have premonitions. They can hear dogs barking far in the distance, which seems to indicate that they'll meet these dogs one day, and while on an outing to see Snow White with their fellow orphans Tia gets the feeling that a man across the street from the theatre is going to be injured in a crash if he gets in his chauffeured car. Tony and Tia convince this man, Donald Pleasence as Lucas Deranian, not to get into the car... and moments later a truck smashes into it.

The orphans needed better supervision. Any one of those kids could run out on the street and get hurt or worse.

I love the fact that Deranian takes Tia and Tony seriously; most people wouldn't.

Donald Pleasence is always a welcome addition to any cast. In Tia's flashbacks, the girl is played by Kim Richards' younger sister Kyle. Three years after this, Kyle Richards and Pleasence would both be in Halloween.

Deranian works for Aristotle Bolt (Ray Milland), a very wealthy man who has been unsuccessfully trying to increase his wealth through astrology. After realizing that Tony and Tia can see things before they happen, Deranian gets the idea that they could be helpful in Bolt's endeavors. So he, with his employer's approval, uses forged documents to pretend to be their biological uncle and adopts them.

Tony and Tia know Deranian isn't related to them, but they have no choice in the matter. They're taken away to live in Xanthus, the mansion/castle of Bolt, a place they have fearfully envisioned before, the place where all those barking dogs live. Bolt's attack dogs.

The way they envisioned the place, with the harmonica mirror drawing is just amazing. Creative and effective, it's another one of my favorite moments in the movie.

When the kids first arrive at Xanthus, it doesn't seem so bad at all. They're served ice cream and given large rooms to live in, with a common area playroom complete with television and an ice cream bar. A carousel and gymnasium are being installed, the tennis court is being resurfaced, and Winkie even gets his own area in the playroom.

I remember my first "wow" reaction seeing their rooms, and how badly I wanted me and my brother to have rooms just like that. Granted, my brother is six years older than me, but we watched the movie so much growing up, it didn't matter. We wanted all of those wonderful things. So amazing! Especially the ice cream bar.

I want my own ice cream bar. Trouble is, I'd eat so much ice cream that I'd never be able to leave the room.

Unfortunately, the place is very remote, and they're essentially prisoners here, under constant surveillance. Videos of their power displays are being compiled by Deranian and Bolt to blackmail them into helping them.

The scenes showing the rocks around the dark scary beach also contribute to the feeling I have that this movie is more than just a silly kid's movie. Much more. The suspense, the music, it's all very well executed.

One night during dinner, Bolt tips his hand, giving away the fact that he knows the kids are psychic and saying he wants their help finding oil, predicting revolutions and natural disasters, things like that. Knowing they might try to escape, he plans to have them taken away to a snowbound chalet - but he doesn't do that quickly enough.

Bolt was really getting ahead of himself. If he knew what the kids could do, then he should've known they could see right through him and his intentions.

Tony and Tia escape from Xanthus that night, using telepathy to turn the dogs that are sent after them against Bolt's lackeys. There are horses to ride at Xanthus, including a wild one that hadn't been broken yet called Thunderhead. Tia tames Thunderhead within seconds and the kids ride away on the horse's back.

A vengeful man who doesn't make idle threats, Bolt sends his full force of lackeys after the kids, even getting the police involved. Searching a nearby town, Bolt's men encounter a grumpy old man traveling in a motor home - Jason O'Day, played by Eddie Albert. When asked if he has seen some kids around, O'Day says he doesn't care where they are as long as they're going the opposite direction from him. He's not fond of kids.

I haven't seen Eddie Albert in a whole lot, but I always love it when I do see him. He was a part of my childhood thanks to the 1965 - '71 TV series Green Acres.

O'Day does seem to be fond of cats. Spotting Winkie after stopping his motor home on a beach, he immediately offers this "stray" some tuna. He's not so happy when he finds that Tony and Tia have been stowaways inside the vehicle. Putting on the act of being a "mean, impatient, selfish man", he tries to scare the kids away... then quickly softens his tone and offers them breakfast. O'Day isn't a bad guy, he's just hurting from the loss of his wife, who passed away. Tony and Tia are able to see his memories of that.

Once you know he's not just an old, grumpy, lonely man, O'Day instantly becomes a great character. 

The talk of O'Day's wife is touching, and draws the viewer to him even more.

By the time they're done with breakfast, the kids have convinced O'Day to give them a ride. When Winkie knocked the star case out of Truck's hand, it loosened a panel on the case, revealing a map hidden beneath. A map to a place called Stony Creek, with a path that continues up into some mountains. That's where Tony and Tia want O'Day to take them.

The group manage to evade Deranian, and when a motorcycle cop pulls over the motor home Tony facilitates their escape by having the cop's bike crash itself, but they don't have as much luck getting away from a sheriff who is in Bolt's pocket, Walter Barnes as Sheriff Purdy.

There is a somewhat shocking scene when the kids and O'Day get away from Deranian in the woods. Tia uses her telekinesis to take a gun away from Deranian's driver and point it at them - even cocking it. There's no way a kids' movie would have a child doing something like that today.

It would definitely be out of line for today standards, but back then, or in the '80s - which is when I watched the movie repeatedly - it didn't feel malicious or too much, in any way. Times have changed.

The gun moment also reminded me of a very similar scene that was in the first X-Men movie twenty-five years later. Magneto must have seen Escape to Witch Mountain.

While in Purdy's custody, Tony and Tia start to have some major breakthroughs in recovering their memories of where they're from, starting when Purdy asks for their last names and Tony impulsively answers "Castaway". This leads to them recalling that they didn't always speak English. They spoke another language with someone they called Uncle Bene. Did Uncle Bene drown at sea while they were in his care?

So, when you think the movie is only going to be about Tia and Tony trying to stay away fom Bolt, you realize there's more to the story, and Tia's flashbacks start making sense.

Tony and Tia then use their gifts to escape the jail cell Purdy has put them in, with Tony making a coat rack attack Purdy as if it's a living being wielding a broom. On their way out of town, the kids stop to free another prisoner - an unhappy circus bear they see in a cage. That bear ends up helping them out in return, climbing into Deranian's car.

How is it possible to put such young children in jail? And the fact that I didn't question this as a kid goes along with why Tia's gun scene doesn't feel awkward; different times. 

Purdy's experience leaves him convinced that the kids are evil beings from a place called Witch Mountain, and with this claim he's able to stir up a posse of gun-toting locals to aid in the search for these little witches.

As their journey with O'Day continues, the kids remember more and more. Before the wreck at sea with Uncle Bene, they were traveling not from another country but from another planet entirely. A planet that doesn't exist anymore. The planet was dying and its inhabitants had to escape to Earth. Their destination was Witch Mountain, and reports confirm that a group of people did settle there a while back and they keep to themselves.

The movie threw me for a loop with this stuff. From the title, I expected the kids to simply be witches, I didn't know this was a Superman-esque story of immigrants from another world.

"Castaway" is the name of someone they need to get in contact with. Finding the name in a phone book, they make a call and find on the other end someone who says they've been looking for the kids for a long time. They must be trustworthy, because after the call they have also established a telepathic connection with Tony and Tia. This inspires the trio to make a final push toward Witch Mountain, with Deranian, the police, and the posse right on their tail. Bolt even joins the chase, riding in a helicopter. Tony manages to deter a carload of pursuers by telekinetically tossing a sack of flour against their windshield, but Deranian and Bolt remain close... and that's fine. The telepathic voice promises the kids they'll be able to get the villains to leave them alone for good. They have something planned for these bad guys.

Deranian is momentarily taken out of the chase when he attempts a roadblock and power greater than Tony and Tia's allows the motor home to take flight and fly right over Deranian's car. While levitating O'Day's vehicle, the power also takes over Bolt's helicopter, forcing it to fly upside down.

The motor home and the helicopter come down in the same place, the helicopter landing on its top. Deranian shows up at this location to see Tony and Tia reunited with a mysterious figure from their past... someone who can take them to be with the rest of their people. As Winkie stays behind with O'Day, Tony and Tia leave with their long lost Uncle Bene, who does indeed show Bolt and Deranian a sight that convinces them that the children are forever out of their reach.

Despite the fact that Escape to Witch Mountain came out eight years before I was even born, and even though I have older siblings who almost certainly watched it as some point, somehow I managed to make it through childhood without ever seeing the movie. I knew it existed, I would hear about it here and there over the years, but never watched it. My first ever viewing of this film came at the age of 32, when Priscilla showed it to me on DVD.

I was shocked when I found out Cody had never seen it. My experience was very different. Like I mentioned before, I grew up watching this movie, and my first viewing was very early on, when I was around 3 or 4 years old. I had the best time watching it with my brother, we'd watch it a lot, it was so much fun and not just because we were children watching a kids' movie... we have always loved horror movies, and since Escape to Witch Mountain has a lot of mystery, suspense and even horror going on (the coat rack attack is downright terrifying), it quickly became one of our favorites.

I'm sure I would have enjoyed it even more if I had watched it as a kid, and it would be nice to have a nostalgic connection to it to make it even more entertaining, but it is a good enough movie, and well made enough, that I could still enjoy it as a first time viewing at this age.

I have wondered whether or not the movie would work for someone who didn't grow up watching it, or even watched it at all as a kid. I'm glad to see that it got a positive reaction from Cody. Not that I'm surprised, Escape to Witch Mountain is very interesting, and all of its elements work perfectly together. 

The story is interesting and held my attention, and I was impressed by the cast. Ike Eisenmann and Kim Richards do a great job carrying the film, and as mentioned above it was nice to see familiar faces. Although they're now known as Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, I'm glad to not know Kim and her sister Kyle for that, but rather for their acting roles - movies like Assault on Precinct 13, Meatballs Part II, and Tuff Turf for Kim, Eaten Alive and Halloween for Kyle, The Car for both of them. For me, Kim will always be the little girl who gets shot in the ice cream cone in Assault, so it was fun to see her doing mind tricks in a kid-friendly movie. Donald Pleasence was a hero in the Halloween movies, but he has a very off, creepy presence, which made him perfect casting for Deranian. Ray Milland is not someone I would ever want to get on the bad side of. And there's Eddie Albert delivering a very likeable performance as O'Day.

The acting is simply superb. Ike Eisenmann and Kim Richards were the absolute right choice for the roles. Both of them have an enormous amount of charisma, and you believe they're siblings who deeply care for one another, and have only each other to count on. I wanted to be Tia, with her powers and pretty hair! The rest of the cast is great as well. Pleasance and Albert are also perfect for their roles.

While Escape to Witch Mountain probably isn't a movie I'll be revisiting on a regular basis, it is definitely a very good kids' movie. I liked it a lot, and am glad I finally saw it. I can see why it still gets referenced and has a fan base more than forty years after it was first released.

Escape to Witch Mountain is a very special movie to me. So many memories and good times are directly linked to it in my head. I don't watch it as often as I did, or should, but every time I do, the nostalgic feeling of remembering a time when things were simpler and better takes over. It's a treat.


Disney has produced several TV movie remakes over the years, but for the 1994 - '95 television season they made four remakes back-to-back (to-back-to-back) to be aired on their subsidiary network ABC. While the only one of these remakes you tend to hear referenced outside of the '90s is The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, and that's simply because it starred Kirk Cameron, the other films that were part of this endeavor were The Shaggy Dog, Freaky Friday (the TV version starred Shelley Long and Gaby Hoffman), and a remake of Escape to Witch Mountain. This take on Witch Mountain was written and directed by Peter Rader, who definitely did not just do the '75 movie all over again.

The remake is narrated by Zoe Moon (Perrey Reeves), a young woman who has lived in the shadow of Witch Mountain - a magical, supposedly haunted location that some fear and others worship - all her life. The story begins with her working as a waitress at the Witch Mountain Cafe, where she is used to seeing strange things because all sorts of people travel to Witch Mountain to visit the powerful rock. It has a unique magnetic field that attracts psychics and people with paranormal abilities. But nothing Zoe has seen before has been as strange as the sight of two abandoned toddlers, a boy and a girl, surrounded by an otherworldy purple light. And she can't even hear that they're attempting to communicate telepathically.

Zoe faints at the sight of the children, leaving them to be discovered in the back of a truck belonging to a hermit named Bruno (Brad Dourif), who is so filthy that Sheriff Bronson (Kevin Tighe) made Zoe refuse him service. When he sees the kids, he immediately sticks the girl in the back of delivery truck, and while he's going back to the boy the delivery truck drives away. Then, of course, Bronson doesn't react well when he sees Bruno carrying the little boy around.

I have no idea what Bruno thought he was doing. Why put the kid in the back of the delivery truck in the first place?

The first thing of many that seems off.

Jump ahead nine years and that boy, now known as Danny (Erik von Detten) is in trouble with Bronson himself, getting caught after running away from his twelfth foster home. Danny has never felt at home with a foster family - they aren't his real family, and he knows his real family is out there somewhere.

Danny gets another home when Bronson takes him to the Ashland Children's Home, where he immediately butts heads with a troublemaking older boy named Xander (Sam Horrigan). Their fight is interrupted by a girl named Anna (Elisabeth Moss), to whom Xander had made the promise that he wouldn't bully anyone anymore.

A look of total awe crosses Danny's face when he first sees Anna, and they both have the feeling that they've met somewhere before.

At first it seems that Xander and Danny are going to be romantic rivals, each vying for the hand of Anna while Xander intimidates Danny both physically and, with scary stories about Witch Mountain, mentally.

The love poem Xander writes to Anna is genius. "Roses are red / Birds can fly / I really like you / I don't know why."

Soon Anna and Danny realize that their identical choices and the mysterious connection they feel isn't because it's a love connection, but because they are siblings, the babies that were separated nine years before. When they go to touch hands, that purple light emanates from them.

Right from the start there are things I don't care for, weird light that everyone can see included.

As the kids continue to bond and wonder where they came from, whether their parents are still alive (Danny says he is sure their mom was pretty, judging by Anna's looks), they also discover that the purple light isn't their only power. They have extrasensory perception - Anna knows that Danny was born one minute before her, they can sense Xander's loneliness even when they can't see him. They can communicate telepathically, as they could before they could even speak, and can levitate things with their minds.

Picked on by Xander during lunch one day, Danny retaliates by using his telekinesis to put a banana peel under Xander's feet, tripping him.

This sure doesn't live up to the baseball game battle that Tony and Truck had in the original.

Very lame. Though, we come to find out that Xander was just doing this to get Anna's attention, he isn't a flat out bully like Truck.

Xander is a more sympathetic troublemaker than Truck was. Truck was just mean, whereas Xander is a love sick kid striking out at the boy who's getting more attention from Anna. I think Sam Horrigan did well in the role, and I'm glad to see that he is still acting to this day.

Another plotline begins develop with a news broadcast about the long-neglected Witch Mountain Park, which wealthy local businessman Edward Bolt (Robert Vaughn) has offered to buy and rejuvenate. This comes as terrible news to Waldo Fudd (Vincent Schiavelli), owner of Witch Mountain business The Purple General Store, because the mountain's geo-cosmic harmonics cannot be tampered with. It's important to "the twins", it will soon reach "the return threshold" and "now is the time to come home to light".

He doesn't sound crazy at all.

More stuff that's completely off.

Someone who can make some sense of Fudd's ramblings is Zoe, who still works at the cafe and has spent nine years wondering what happened to those children she saw.

Bolt is an Ashland Children's Home benefactor, and he meets Danny and Anna while visiting the place to write a fresh check to help keep it going. It proves to be quite a memorable visit - when he's returning to his car, Anna warns him not to get in the vehicle or something bad will happen. She has a bad feeling and doesn't want to see him get hurt. Anna gets Bolt to stop long enough - by ripping his pants and exposing his silly boxers - that he avoids getting injured by the truck that accidentally smashes into his car.

Like Deranian and the Bolt of the original, this Bolt's eyes fill with dollar signs when he realizes these kids have psychic powers. Intending to officially adopt them, he whisks them off to his mansion, and during the drive Anna realizes that his chauffeur is Luther, the delivery truck driver who found her when she was a baby. Bruno and Luther are both played by Brad Dourif.

Dourif's characters both seem somewhat questionable, but at least they're much friendlier than that Chucky character he played in that other kids' movie, Child's Play. 

True. And having Dourif in the remake is probably one of the few good things about it.

Danny and Anna are set up in one large shared room that has toys all over the place and an adjacent playroom.

Wow, this room is ridiculous. Especially when you compare it to the amazing one in the original movie. This one just looks extremely messy and not at all interesting.

And Bolt is concerned that he may have gone overboard. Ha! Where the hell is the ice cream bar?

While Danny gets swept up in all the things Bolt has to offer them, this place is like Heaven as far as he's concerned, Anna takes on a more sullen demeanor. She doesn't trust Bolt and fears that he has ulterior motives. She feels that she and Danny are supposed to be going somewhere, but they're basically prisoners here, trapped by fences and under surveillance.

Aas it turns out, Bolt's interest in the children isn't noble after all - uranium has been found in Witch Mountain, and he wants to use Danny and Anna's powers to mine it without trucks and dynamite.

This is a pretty lame use of their powers, just wanting them to covertly dig into some rock and levitate uranium. It's all about making money either way, but the original Bolt seemed much more sinister.

And I feel like they "explain" too much here. Some things are better off left to the imagination.

Bolt's public plans for the Witch Mountain property need to pass a vote, and the swing vote is in the hands of a chairman who is not in favor of his ideas. Bolt makes a wager with Bronson: if he can beat him in a game of tennis, Bronson will have a deputy "accidentally" tow the chairman's car so she'll miss the meeting and Bolt's plans will pass. Danny gladly uses his powers to help Bolt win the game.

To prove to Anna that they're not prisoners, Danny has Luther take them out to get some ice cream from The Purple General Store.

They shouldn't have to go out for ice cream, they should have an ice cream bar in their room!

When Anna drops her ice cream cone, she uses her powers to reverse the drop, tipping Fudd off to the fact that these are the twins he's been waiting for. He tells the kids to meet him on Witch Mountain at sunset.

So Tony and Tia had an ice cream bar, but it's Danny and Anna's lack of an ice cream bar that allows for an important moment of plot progression. They could have gone to the store for something else, though. I'm just obsessed with this ice cream issue.

That's a good thing to be obsessed with.

Returning to Bolt's, Danny and Anna argue over whether or not to leave that night, and Danny displays some jealousy over Anna's friendship with Xander before running off.

One of the worst - if not the worst - things about the remake is their relationship. Danny acts more like a significant other than a brother. When things are good between them he compliments her, when they disagree he's rude and jealous. There's no brotherly bonding coming from him. Just feels awkward and inappropriate, I don't like it at all.

While Danny visits one of Bolt's horses, a horse called Thunderbolt that has never been broken, Bolt tips his villainous hand and tries to force Anna into giving a demonstration of her telekinesis. It doesn't work, and Luther somehow knows that she and Danny have to be together to use their powers.

Locked up, Anna telepathically calls out to Danny, saying she's a prisoner. Knowing that Thunderbolt doesn't like being penned up, Danny thinks the mental communication is coming from the horse. He ends up being locked away in a stable stall himself.

This kid is a real dimwit.

Very weak and flawed character. First he's a rebel, now he's a selfish boy who doesn't seem to be very bright, especially considering he has powers.

While the kids are locked up, the bus from the orphanage and a TV news van show up at the mansion to film a half hour special. Of course, Xander goes looking for Anna, and is able to locate her through the duck calls they both wear.

If I were trying to think of something a (girl)friend and I could both wear, I don't think I would have ever landed on "duck calls".

Makes no sense; like pretty much everything else in the movie.

With the help of Xander and their powers, which they use to bust the lock on the stable stall Danny's in and to tame the untameable Thunderbolt, Danny and Anna escape Bolt's property and ride off on the back of the horse. When Luther attempts to stop them, they mentally tie his shoelaces together and trip him into a pile of manure.

In the original film, Tony and Tia arrived at Bolt's mansion at the 21 minute mark and escaped eighteen minutes later. Danny and Anna arrive at Bolt's at the 29 minute mark and don't escape until thirty-five minutes later. It takes so long for the kids to leave this location that I began to wonder if it wasn't just a creative choice made by the writer/director, but a budgetary restriction. I suspect that they didn't have the money to make an adventure on the scale of the '75 movie, and instead had to make sure the story played out in as few locations as possible.

The one thing I appreciate in the remake is the fact that the kids stayed at Bolt's place for a while before trying to escape. But the more I think about it, the more it seems like it wasn't for the sake of story after all. It was probably due to budget indeed.

Danny and Anna go to The Purple General Store, where Fudd tells them what's going on: Fudd and the kids are from a parallel dimension where everyone has the purple light powers and everyone has a twin. Unfortunately, there are no emotions on their world. Millions of years ago, people from their world visited Earth and found it so nice, having emotions and all, that they decided to stay. The human race came from these visitors, but over time they began to fight over worldy things and forgot about their purple powers. Every nine years, a portal to this other dimension opens on Witch Mountain. That's how the kids got here, and it's about to open again - their chance to go back home.

Police show up at the store, but the kids are able to escape with their powers - sliding a cop across the floor - and a distraction by Xander. The jump in the back of a truck, which is driven away by Bruno the hermit.

Bruno seems to be an axe-wielding maniac, but the kids are able to get through to him and befriend him. He agrees to drive them to Witch Mountain, and along the way they stop to help a stranded motorist. Zoe.

Zoe's search for information led her to cross paths with the kids when they were getting ice cream earlier, after which she visited a Cosmology and Astrophysics Department to ask a professor if it would be possible to travel through space on a beam of purple light. This professor (Henry Gibson) said such technology is 2000 years away, and also put forward the theory that aliens could be the missing link in human development. Zoe then visited the spot where she saw the kids nine years earlier and swore to them that she is a friend - a swear that Fudd heard. He sent her to Witch Mountain and set her on this collision course.

Zoe and Bruno are more helpful than anticipated. When Bolt and the police block them in a car tunnel, the kids are able to use their powers to levitate the truck... but not enough to get out of the tunnel. When they cause Zoe and Bruno to remember that they have the purple light within them as well, the truck takes flight, dropping a bucket of tar on Bolt as it heads into the sky.

It's no flying motor home, but it's certainly the most impressive display of powers in this film.

If you can call it impressive.

Danny, Anna, Zoe, and Bruno arrive on Witch Mountain to find Fudd and several other groups of twins waiting for them. Xander, Sheriff Bronson, Luther, and head of the orphanage Lindsay Brown (Lynne Moody), who Luther has told about the shady things Bolt had planned, arrive soon after. It is revealed that Luther and Bruno are twins from the other dimension who have been missing the trip back for forty-five years.

Fudd opens the purple light portal to the other dimension, and after saying goodbyes, and after Anna imbues Xander with the purple light, the kids are teleported to the other dimension.

The only good thing about the light is that it's purple.

Aww, what a happy ending, they're going off to a place where they'll have no emotions.

And where everybody has a twin.

The film ends with Zoe looking directly into the camera to implore viewers, especially outsiders, not to be afraid to let in the light.

Now that's scary!

Escape to Witch Mountain '95 might be a harmlessly mediocre kids' movie on its own merits, but it pales in comparison to the first movie. This movie doesn't provide the sort of fun the original did, it doesn't have the sense of adventure and you don't connect with the characters in the same way. It has a very odd, somewhat off-putting atmosphere which is enhanced by how low rent it all is.

There is absolutely no way to compare the two movies. Not only are they completely different, but the story here just doesn't work. Danny and Anna don't grow up together, their powers and the way they learn about them is very lame, the narrator is unnecessary. You think Zoe's going to have a much bigger part in the movie, when really she's basically just there. Danny is annoying, and him fighting with Anna all the time is distracting.

Alexander H. Key, author of the novel, and '75 screenwriter Robert M. Young are both given credit for source material, but very little from the first movie made it to the remake. Mostly just broad concepts and parts of character names. The movies are so different that it brings up the question - which was more faithful to the book? I haven't read Key's Escape, but judging from the information on Wikipedia the '75 version was actually fairly close to what Key wrote. The main differences seem to be that Tia was non-verbal and the version of O'Day on the page was a priest.

No star case, no Winkie, no real sense of suspense and adventure. The remake is seriously lacking. And the whole romance aspect with Anna and Xander feels so out of place and creepy. Even the kids' room is disappointing. The original movie has so much going for it, I wish I could say the same about the '95 version, but I can't.

When a movie based on a book is remade, it's more acceptable to me when the remake tries to be even closer to the source material. If it strays even further away, it makes me wonder why they bothered in the first place. Why make an Escape to Witch Mountain that doesn't stay true to the ideas of Escape to Witch Mountain?

I feel like they used the name to try and get more people to watch it. I can't think of any other reason. The movies are not similar in any way, and even if the '95 movie wasn't a "remake", I wouldn't be able to say nice things about it. The movie is just so all over the place. Nothing about it feels right.

If you've watched the 1975 Escape, you've already seen the best take on this material. If you've only seen the '95 version, check out the '75 one and it might blow you away, it's so much better.

If you haven't seen either one, I'd seriously recommend that you watch the original and skip the remake. I don't feel like I gained anything from my viewing of Escape to Witch Mountain '95. The story is weird, acting isn't the best, nothing works quite right. It really wasn't a pleasant experience for me.

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