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Something Wicked This Way Comes

Directed by Jack Clayton. US. 1983. PG. 95 minutes. Disney. 35mm.
Fri., October 2, 2015
Friday
October 2, 2015
9:45 pm

“Something Wicked This Way Comes qualifies as a horror film, but it’s an altogether different kind than we’ve been getting lately. The new breed of horror movies are essentially geek shows, exercises in despair in which all hope has been abandoned and evil rules the world. Bradbury’s world of fantasy calls back to an earlier tradition, to the fantasies of Lord Dunsany, Saki and John Collier (but not H. P. Lovecraft!) — horror fantasies in which evil was a distinct possibility, but men also had within them the possibility of redemption. Robards is offered a choice in this movie, and it is a choice. Things need not end in disaster.

There’s another interesting thing about this movie. It’s one of the few literary adaptations I’ve seen in which the film not only captures the mood and tone of the novel, but also the novel’s style. Bradbury’s prose is a strange hybrid of craftsmanship and lyricism. He builds his stories and novels in a straightforward way, with strong plotting, but his sentences owe more to Thomas Wolfe than to the pulp tradition, and the lyricism isn’t missed in this movie.

In its descriptions of autumn days, in its heartfelt conversations between a father and a son, in the unabashed romanticism of its evil carnival and even in the perfect rhythm of its title, this is a horror movie with elegance.” (Roger Ebert)