Ray Bradbury wrote “Something Wicked This Way Comes” as a short novel in 1962 – a dark and spooky follow-on to his summery “Dandelion Wine”. Like most sci-fi/fantasy, there’s little doubt about who are the good guys and the bad guys – names like Mr. Dark who leads the Pandemonium Carnival, and 12-yr.old Will Halloway and his best friend Jim Nightshade make it really clear, but without being corny. Bradbury wrote the screenplay for the Disney film of 1983, and said he thought the resulting film was one of the better adaptations of his books. I read (and taught high-school sophomores) Dandelion Wine in the early 70s, but read SWTWC some years later, before I saw the movie--and the movie was SO MUCH better! The book was a rough draft compared to what Bradbury turned it into in the film--much deeper, richer and very satisfying (sounds like a piece of chocolate cake! - the film equivalent!).
The film stars Jason Robards as young Will’s aging and sorrowing librarian father in a small, 1930’s era Midwestern town; Jonathan Price is the elegantly handsome and devilishly charming Mr. Dark. Each homey character is poignant and colorful – from the town’s spinster schoolteacher who longs for her girlish beauty, to the highschool football hero who lost a leg and an arm in the Great War but still dreams of his glory days, to the ancient lightning rod salesman—Tom Fury—who sees the evil coming with the return of the “October People” but is helpless to do anything about it. The story is both a coming-of-age for the two boys who are chafing to grow up, especially Jim whose father deserted him and his mother some years before, and a reluctant hero tale of Will’s father as he battles the seduction of evil Mr. Dark, whose deceptive promises hold out to all the hope of rejuvenation and fulfillment even as they are sucked into a life of slavery in the carnival. And it’s really scary, partly because of the emotional reality which embues the characters’ dreams and despairs, and also because it makes Evil so very, very real. Watch it on Halloween night!
Causes mary burns Supports
Marine Mammal Center, Sausalito, CA