From the Dust

Note: This disc is exclusive to the Disney Movie Club.

It’s easy to argue Disney wasn’t the right place for Ray Bradbury’s small town fable Something Wicked This Way Comes. The studio didn’t think so either, editing, reshooting, and tweaking well over a year after principal photography completed, trying to balance the Satanic tale and their own Disney-ness.

Consider though the difficulty and what resulted – a messy, inconsistent horror-like thriller that involves sexual urges, greed, and small town hopelessness. Charles (Jason Robards) speaks to his son about death and regret. This isn’t easily settled material, but Disney’s way squeezes through. The point remains – Something Wicked This Way Comes delivers on its message that evil breeds among the unhappy, and wanting only allows it to flourish.

Something Wicked This Way Comes spends much of its runtime dismantling a “roaring ‘20s” ideal

Set in a nondescript, early 1900s American town, Something Wicked This Way Comes spends much of its runtime dismantling a “roaring ‘20s” ideal. Although a place of few people, everyone carries with them  superfluous needs. The script isn’t much for character so much as sinful placeholders and broad personalities, enough that even a small child can understand where they go so wrong. Or even, what’s wrong, because asking pre-teens to grasp lust is a lot.

It’s moody, miserable, and wildly uneven in its delivery. No doubt the nostalgic charm, for some, is incalculable. Many a childhood were likely scarred by watching a devilish man turn to bones as lightning strikes. There is terror extending from Bradbury’s story, and although not in any exact fashion, an occasionally capable one.

Something Wicked This Way Comes hit during the post-Star Wars marketing deluge, and as Saturday mornings turned into cartoon sales pitches. It conveys the misery experienced when not getting what someone wants or desires. Kids might not latch onto gambling addictions or their cost, but the fear in trading their souls for whatever the corporate product-of-the-week was back then fits snugly into the lore. Surreal and wicked in its methods, the ghostly drama seems awfully severe, if filtered enough to suit the Disney branding.

A first time viewing in 2021 is unlikely to leave an impression as it once did. An entire genre of young adult horror is the norm. That doesn’t, however, render the film’s point moot. What it lacks in putting Bradbury’s source on screen, Something Wicked This Way Comes keeps the critical pieces intact, and in its own way.

Video

Disney dumps this one on Blu-ray with zero fanfare and even less effort. The print is overloaded with mess like dirt and dust. Some scenes are worse than others, but none go by without some debris interfering. It’s typical for composited effects to increase these issues given the process, but Something Wicked This Way Comes is particularly brutal in this regard; those shots appear nearly rotted out.

The master itself is okay, reasonable in resolution. That lets the grain sustain a consistent level, a bit chunkier than the best catalog efforts, if crisp enough. Overall detail grabs some finer textures, mostly in close. Town exteriors handle the brick facades and messy, leaf-strewn grounds. This presentation looks every bit its age, which goes against the current standards being set by boutique labels.

Hazier color favors the fall aesthetic, staying around brown-ish earth tones, with mildly warmed flesh tint. Like the print itself, saturation looks untouched and a little dusty. Few primaries stick out, even considering things like the barber pole. Contrast proves marginal, sufficient, and… just fine. Black levels work well though.

Audio

A storm brews in the opening act, and courtesy of this 5.1 mix, winds, leaves, and thunder find a place in the rears. While elements like dialog carry a roughened quality indicative of their age (the score struggles a bit too), the added rear speaker use sounds natural. A sharp stereo split is better yet. Rides rattle in each speaker as the kids wander, and laughing further extends the simulated space.

Carnival music perks up the subwoofer via the drums, smoothly adding dimension to the track.

Extras

Nothing. Anchor Bay once issued a DVD with a Ray Bradbury commentary. Track that down for bonuses.

Something Wicked This Way Comes
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
3

Movie

While clumsy and lacking the original story’s bite, Something Wicked This Way Comes still maintains the core themes.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 43 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots grabbed directly from the Blu-ray: