Return from Witch Mountain (1978)

Synopsis:

Alien kids with psychic powers, Tony (Ike Eisenmann) and Tia (Kim Richards), come to Los Angeles, California, for a vacation. After he is seen using his powers, Tony is kidnapped by an unscrupulous scientist (Christopher Lee, House of Dracula) and his greedy sidekick (Bette Davis), who want to exploit the boy’s abilities.

Reaction & Thoughts:

“That’s why I like science. They’re always discovering new expensive things.”

Escape to Witch Mountain (1974) was a surprise hit for The Walt Disney Corporation. Never one to pass up an opportunity to make an extra buck, Disney decreed that the success of the 1974 movie demanded a sequel. Malcolm Marmorstein, who had written the studio’s popular Pete’s Dragon the year before, came up with Return from Witch Mountain, which I ended up enjoying far more than I anticipated.

The film continues the saga of extraterrestrial siblings with telekinesis powers, Tony and Tia. While Return from Witch Mountain isn’t half as interesting as the slightly dark Escape to Witch Mountain, the admittedly goofier sequel felt tidier than its predecessor — the simple narrative moves along at an entertaining pace.

As he did with Escape to Witch Mountain, director John Hough (The Legend of Hell House) does his darn best to keep things from getting too cute. I was also pleasantly surprised to see that the visual effects were a tad better the second time around. While the optical effects are still nowhere near the level of Mary Poppins (1964), the illusions are good enough. Lalo Schifrin’s (Dirty Harry) music score is good too.

Additionally, veterans Bette Davis and Christopher Lee inject credibility into many silly situations. Lee is genuinely creepy as the “mad scientist” who wants to use the kids for his own nefarious purposes. It’s as if no one bothered to tell him that this was a Disney flick — Lee’s imposing 6’5″ frame and potent voice tower over all others in the film.

Lee has a nice rapport with Davis — in many interviews Lee said that he got along great with the legendary actress. Unlike Lee, Davis places her tongue into her cheek. She seems to be enjoying herself — Davis provides plenty of giggles as Lee’s greedy partner-in-crime. Child actors Ike Eisenmann and Kim Richards are as likable as ever. Anthony James (In the Heat of the Night) has a few good moments as Davis’s shady nephew.

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

Return from Witch Mountain may not have quite the amount of cheerleaders Escape to Witch Mountain has, but I liked it. The film is much lighter than its predecessor, but I don’t really see that as a negative. The kids were great, and it was a lot of fun seeing heavyweight champions Bette Davis and Sir Christopher Lee together in a movie aimed at children. Followed by a short-lived TV series. Color, 94 minutes, Rated G.

This is my contribution to The Christopher Lee Blogathon, hosted by Cinematic Catharsis and Realweedgiemidget Reviews.

18 responses to “Return from Witch Mountain (1978)

  1. Pingback: The Day 2 of the Christopher Lee Blogathon has Dawned – Realweegiemidget Reviews Films TV Books and more·

  2. This one is not as great as the original, but Miss Davis and Sir Christopher are very fun to watch. They make an interesting dastardly duo terrorising poor Tony and Tia. You’ve made me want to see this again, a double feature with the original would be a perfect evening!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I happened to see this film for the first time a few months ago, and I loved the casting of Christopher Lee and Bette Davis. Their performances made this a much better film than it might have seemed on paper.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Good review 👍
    Christopher Lee and Betty Davis are fun to watch in this film.

    Learning there was a witch mountain TV series is a total surprise to me!

    Liked by 2 people

    • “Learning there was a witch mountain TV series is a total surprise to me!” More shocking is the fact that a very young Elizabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale) played Tia in the TV show!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Lee and Davis seems like an irresistible combination! Lee’s role in this reminds me somewhat of the sort of mad scientist roles Vincent Price was getting in ’60s comedies like Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine (trading in on his horror reputation). I will take something like Return to Witch Mountain any day over the current endless Disney retreads. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • “I will take something like Return to Witch Mountain any day over the current endless Disney retreads.” Right on. I think that Disney has become too big for its own good. Something is missing.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. I know I saw both Witch Mountain movies as a kid but I have no recollection of them at all. Therefore, it comes as a complete surprise to learn that Lee and Davis were in the sequel. That sounds like a great team up. Thanks for the education!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Never saw the second one. Saw the first one and, believe it or not, read the book as a kid. It sounds like the second one wasn’t too bad!

    Liked by 2 people

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