Escape to Witch Mountain (1975)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 12-May-2004

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Fantasy Menu Audio
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1975
Running Time 93:29
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (51:13) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By John Hough
Studio
Distributor

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Eddie Albert
Ray Milland
Donald Pleasence
Kim Richards
Ike Eisenmann
Walter Barnes
Reta Shaw
Denver Pyle
Alfred Ryder
Lawrence Montaigne
Terry Wilson
George Chandler
Dermott Downs
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $19.95 Music Johnny Mandel


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.75:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.75:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
French
German
Dutch
Portuguese
French Titling
German Titling
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Tony and Tia are orphans with little memory of their past. When we first meet them, they have just been enrolled in an orphanage. On the outside, the brother and sister seem quite normal, but you soon realize that there is something very unique about them. No sooner are the pair enrolled in the orphanage when one of the residents tries to pick a fight with Tony (Ike Eisenmann). It's when he uses some surprising telekinetic powers that we learn that the two are not just everyday kids.

    The two have little memory of their life before the orphanage. They have vague memories of people and events in their lives before being taken in by the Malone family. When Mr. and Mrs. Malone are killed in an accident, the pair are taken to the orphanage. But in spite of their incomplete memories of times past, Tia (Kim Richards) has several flashbacks to their childhood. Still, there is little time to recollect the past as the two get used to the day to day life at the orphanage. While the pair have been getting used to their ever-growing psychic powers, it's on a field trip into the city where it gets them some real attention. Lucas Deranian (Donald Pleasence) is the employee of millionaire Aristotle Bolt (Ray Milland), a man possessed of the desire for total power. On a trip to the city, Bolt's man Deranian comes into contact with the young orphans and discovers their secret. When the two use their powers to save the life of Deranian, he immediately reports his startling encounter to his boss. Soon the plan is hatched and Deranian goes to the orphanage to claim the two as his long lost niece and nephew. As soon as the kids are trapped in the Bolt compound, the millionaire mogul begins to hatch his scheme to use the pair's psychic powers to make himself more wealthy and influential. This doesn't go unnoticed by the two children, and they escape the compound.

    Fleeing Bolt and Deranian, Tony and Tia stow away onboard the Winnebago of Jason O'Day (Eddie Albert). The grumpy retiree finds the pair and quickly kicks them out, but he soon develops an affinity to the two and instead allows them to stay with him. When he discovers their powers and hears their story, he decides to help them escape the power mad millionaire Bolt and perhaps learn the truth of their origin...on Witch Mountain!

    This one has really dated, but is a nostalgia trip for those who grew up with the film in the mid 70s. I loved this film as a kid, but seeing it now really shows just how far children's films have evolved over the years. Entertaining at the time, the special effects now stand out like a sore thumb in their simplicity. The look is akin to children's television of the time rather than a motion picture. Coupled with some fairly ordinary camera work and cinematography, this is little better than an after school special from 30 years ago.

    Disney in Region 1 have released this film in a package that features several interesting extras, including a cast commentary by Ike Eisenmann, Kim Richards and Director John Hough along with several making-of documentaries and interviews. I would find it surprising that this film would find any real audience with today's kids and can only think that those of my generation (late 30s) who remember this film will be interested. Sadly, it looks as if, again, Region 1 gets the lion's share of extras whilst we here in the antipodes miss out. Worth a look for the young at heart that remember the film from their childhood, but I think that it will have a fairly limited appeal to anyone else.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    The video here is okay, quite watchable and probably the best version of the film that we will get for some time.

    The film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.75:1 with the appropriate 16x9 enhancement. The movie was filmed in 35 mm using the Spherical process and then matted to 1.75:1.

    Within the technical and budgetary limitations of the time, we get a reasonable level of sharpness here. Although the image is a little washed out (typical of films from this era), the clarity is quite watchable. Shadow detail is workable. I had no problems with low level noise.

    Colour's use during this programme is fairly natural with little exaggeration. As would be expected, the palate is somewhat subdued but again, this could be due to the age of the film coupled with the quality of the film stock used during production. Colour's commitment to disc looks quite good considering the source material.

    For a film of this age and stature, I found the image to be quite clean. There is some obvious grain present and nicks and flecks are easily spotted, but the print here is by no means in bad condition and as I've stated before, you've probably not seen this film looking as good as it does here. Edge enhancement isn't out of control and MPEG artefacts seem to be a non-issue, thanks to the use of the RSDL format.

    I found the English subtitles reasonably accurate, whilst not word for word.

    This disc is formatted RSDL, with the layer change taking place at 51:13, which is between Chapters 5 and 6. It is a fairly obvious change and only the most sophisticated DVD players will render this change seamlessly.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     The audio mix provided is somewhat limited but suits the material well

     There are 3 audio options here, these being English, French and German Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes. The English runs at 448 Kb/s while the French and German are at the lesser 384 Kb/s rate.

     I had no problems with the dialogue quality here and the spoken word is understandable throughout the programme. Sync is also reasonable throughout.

     Music for this film comes from film score composer Johnny Mandel. Although Mandel has composed a range of scores for such films as Caddyshack, Deathtrap and The Verdict, he will be most remembered for the song Suicide is Painless, which was the theme for the classic film and television show M*A*S*H. The score for this film is somewhat dated (as expected), but it does suit the material well.

     The rear effects on offer here are quite limited and the surround mix is derived from an original mono source. As much as can be extrapolated from the soundtrack is distributed around the soundstage, but the effect overall is a limited atmospheric sound that suits the material well.

     There is little LFE available, despite the presence of the .1 channel.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     You're kidding, right? This is a Buena Vista Australia live action back catalogue title. Do you really think that we'd get anything of note? Do you really think that we would get anything at all? Not a chance. Bare bones, all the way through.

Menu

     After the Language Selection we are taken to the normal copyright warnings and distributor's logos before going to the disc's Main Menu which offers us the following:

     The Main Menu is presented static with audio from the film's soundtrack in the background. The menus are 16x9 enhanced.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Assume the position, Australia, because we've been given the rough end of the stick...again.

     In my open letter to Buena Vista Home Entertainment in my review of The Parent Trap, I spelled out the annoying shortcomings of many of the live action back catalogue titles from Disney here in Region 4. The major titles seem to get decent treatment, but when it comes to some of the older film, especially those with limited appeal, we seem to get a raw deal. This is a major marketing error on Buena Vista's part as the main audience for many of these films is not 12 year olds, but those who were 12 years old when the films were first released. People like me. Yet people like me want extras to enhance the viewing of the film. This is a trip down memory lane and if we are going down that path, we would like some markers along the way. Our Region 1 cousins get it, with a disc that has a cast and crew commentary and a host of extras, but when it comes to our package, it's the film only. This is a major disappointment as those interested in the film want the extras. What are they? Have a look at what we miss here in Region 4:

     The Region 1 disc misses out on the following:

     Disappointing. We deserve better.

Summary

 

       This is one that many will probably remember from their youth. Sadly, we miss out on a host of extras that fans of this film would love to see. I wish that we had been given the total package here, but alas there's nothing more than the film here. Good for a dose of nostalgia, but I would have liked to have seen more.

        The video is reasonable.

        The audio is adequate and serves the material well.

       Not one extra, at all.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Sean Bradford (There is no bio.)
Sunday, October 10, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DVD RP-82 with DVD-Audio on board, using S-Video output
DisplayBeko TRW 325 / 32 SFT 10 76cm (32") 16x9. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderYamaha RX-V2300 Dolby Digital and dts. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
AmplificationYamaha RX-V2300 110w X 6 connected via optical cable and shielded RCA (gold plated) connects for DVD-Audio
SpeakersVAF DC-X Fronts (bi-wired), VAF DC-6 Center, VAF DC-2 Rears, VAF LFE-07 Sub (Dual Amp. 80w x 2)

Other Reviews
DVD Net - Jules F

Comments (Add)
Spoilerish query - Question REPLY POSTED
I see - Question REPLY POSTED