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Film / Escape to Witch Mountain

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Escape to Witch Mountain is a 1975 Disney film starring Kim Richards, Ike Eisenmann, Ray Milland, and Donald Pleasence, directed by John Hough. It is the Film of the Book of the same name, about siblings Tony and Tia Malone (Eisenmann and Richards). We are introduced to them as they are admitted to an orphanage/school. They have no memory of where they came from before they were placed in foster care, and try to conceal the fact that they have Psychic Powers. When Tia sees an accident before it happens, it draws the attention of a wealthy businessman, Aristotle Bolt (Milland), who wants to exploit the siblings' powers. They try to remember where they came from, guided by Tia's "star case", a leather box on a strap with a curious double star design on the lid, which she has had as long as she can remember, and which contains a hidden map to a place called Witch Mountain.

Tony and Tia must escape from Mr. Bolt's compound and travel to Witch Mountain in an attempt to find out where they came from. Along the way they enlist the help of an old drifter (Eddie Albert) to conceal them as Mr. Bolt uses his influence to track them down.

In 1978, it was followed by Return from Witch Mountain, with Richards and Eisenmann reprising their roles. A third episode, ignoring the second and featuring none of the original cast, was titled Beyond Witch Mountain, made as a pilot for a TV series and shown as an episode of The Magical World of Disney in 1982. Two remakes were made, a first one in 1995 under the same title that starred Robert Vaughn and Brad Dourif and a second in 2009 called Race to Witch Mountain and starring Dwayne Johnson.


Tropes seen in Escape To Witch Mountain:

  • Adaptation Personality Change: The owner of the orphanage in this movie is a kindly older lady while in the book, it was more of a home for orphaned juvenile delinquents run by a former police woman who took no gruff from anyone.
  • Alien Among Us: What Tony and Tia turn out to be.
  • Animated Credits Opening: The credits show the silhouettes of the children running while being chased by white outlines of barking dogs. Incidentally, the footage of the dogs is a Recycled Animation from Bambi. This is the era of Disney history that gave us Robin Hood, after all.
  • Bald of Evil: Lucas Deranian, played by Donald Pleasence.
  • Beary Friendly: The kids use a bear to help them escape from Bolt's henchmen.
  • Big Bad: Aristotle Bolt.
  • Chekhov's Gun: During their escape, Thunderhead and the gate guard's cat allergies. Winky the cat disables the guard by his very presence, and Tia calls on Thunderhead the horse to be their means of escape.
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  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Mr. Bolt.
  • Cute Kitten: Winky.
  • The Dragon: Lucas Deranian.
  • The Drifter: Jason O'Day in his RV, a lonely old man wandering around. He comes to the aid of Tony and Tia.
  • Dutch Angle: Used for Mr. Bolt and Deranian in the scene where Tony and Tia psychically spy on their conversation and learn Bolt's plan to imprison them.
  • Grumpy Old Man: Jason O'Day. Becomes a Cool Old Guy
  • Friend to All Living Things: Tia, who can talk to animals.
  • Hollywood Darkness: Tony and Tia's escape from Mr. Bolt's mansion is filmed with a day-for-night filter.
  • Illegal Guardian: Lucas Deranian, who forges papers to make himself out as the kids' uncle.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: It's actually supposed to be a Twist Ending that Tony and Tia are aliens, but it's been a long time since that was treated as any kind of secret. Consider their Flying Saucer is right on the cover of the DVD. Not to mention, all subsequent installments of the Witch Mountain franchise give that information away in the trailer.
  • Magic Music: Tony uses his harmonica to help him focus his telekinetic powers.
  • Psychic Powers: Tony can visualize far away places and see what is happening there. He and Tia both have telekinesis (although hers is mostly used for opening locks).
  • Quest for Identity: The entire film is driven by Tony and Tia's struggle to find out who they are and where they came from.
    • Jason too. He starts out as someone having pledged to never give his love to another person, and over the course of the movie discovers that his true self is a man that helps and safeguards children.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Uncle Bene. In the book, he died on board the ship after having been shot making his escape. Here, he survived without being shot.
  • Speaks Fluent Animal: Tia can communicate telepathically with animals.
  • Superhuman Trafficking: Tony and Tia are chased by Mr. Bolt, who wants to use their powers for his personal gain and a mob of people on a literal Witch Hunt. Not that they know what they'll do with the super-powered kids once they catch them.
  • Table Space: The unease of Tony and Tia at Bolt's mansion and Bolt's predatory attitude towards the children is demonstrated in a scene where they all have dinner at a long formal table, with Bolt and Deranian on the ends and the kids sitting together in the middle.
  • Telepathy: Only one way, as it happens. Tia, the more powerful sibling, can talk to Tony with her mind, but he can't, and has to answer her out loud.
  • Witch Hunt: Some of the posse of backwoods hunters think the children are witches.


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