Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983)

something wicked this way comes poster 1983 review
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Great tone, strong cast

Story meanders in the middle

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Something Wicked This Way Comes

Studio:  Walt Disney Productions

Genre(s):  Horror

Release Date(s):  April 29, 1983

MPAA Rating:  PG


Everyone wants a ticket for Mr. Dark’s carnival!

The carnival is coming to Greentown, Illinois as the magical fall approaches.  Mr. Dark (Jonathan Pryce) seems to offer what everyone wants.  To Will Halloway (Vidal Peterson) and his best friend Jim Nightshade (Shawn Carson), the carnival has a darker side.  The mysterious Mr. Dark is hiding secrets and Will and Jim know it.  Now, Mr. Dark and his minions are out to capture Will and Jim and are taking over the people of the town to do it.  No one will believe Jim and Will that the carnival has a dark side.  The only hope could be in Jim’s father, the town librarian, Charles Halloway (Jason Robards) who is chasing his youth…something Mr. Dark can provide!


Recapture your youth?

Directed by Jack Clayton, Something Wicked This Way Comes is Walt Disney’s adaptation of the classic 1962 fantasy-horror novel by Ray Bradbury.  The movie was released to mixed reviews and a poor showing at the box office.  Despite this, the film has gained a cult following over the years.

I love the novel Something Wicked This Way Comes, and I do love aspects of the film.  Even though this is true, the movie has faults.  With a meandering plot that loses itself in the middle, the movies themes succeed where the story fails and it is backed with nice visuals and a strong acting.

I like the tone of Something Wicked This Way Comes more than the story.  I like the darkness of October that it brings up that reminds you of childhood.  The story gets that scary factor that things can lurk in the dark that aren’t just monsters.  The fear is deeper than simply the creepy Mr. Dark, and it is lurking.


I can give you anything you want!

The story’s real meat is in the idea of what it means to age.  Most kids want to be older like Jim Nightshade.  I fell along the lines of Will who sees the advantages of being older but enjoys his youth even while living his youth.  Will’s afraid of death and aging and October is one of those months about death and ending…summer has ended and the winter is coming.  Will’s father also fears death and is tempted by youth.  All these themes tie in, and I like that it isn’t just blatantly told as part of the narration.

The cast is great.  Jason Robards is perfect as the aging father who feels the connection to youth and his son falling away.  Vidal Peterson and Shawn Carson are rather generic as the two children but hold their own in the film.  Jonathan Pryce makes a creepy Mr. Dark and the movie also features Pam Grier and Bruce M. Fischer as part of Dark’s menagerie.  Royal Dano, Ellen Greer, and Diane Ladd round out the cast.


Yep, nothing horrifying about this…

The visuals of the movie were obviously created in the pre-PG-13 era of films.  If this movie had been released now, it would have been PG-13 despite being the type of fears that probably connect to younger children.  This is considered part of Disney’s attempts to grow-up and the movie has some really odd and creepy imagery.  Mr. Dark’s “death” at the end of the film is definitely nightmare inducing and probably too old for young kids.

Something Wicked This Way Comes is better in concept than execution.  I like the movie because of the memories it brings and since I like the story in general, but the movie does suffer from moments where the story lacks needed direction.  With a cult following and Hollywood all out of ideas, Something Wicked This Way Comes has been eyed for a remake for years.  I know someday it will happen, but I’m both excited and dreading how it might turn out.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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