Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983 film)

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Scene from Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983 film)...


"What would you give a man who could make your deepest dreams come true?" Mr. Dark brings his traveling carnival to a small Midwestern town and grants wishes, for a price.


  • Release Date: 1983
  • Country/Language: US, English
  • Genres/Technical: Fantasy, Horror
  • Setting: small-town mid-western USA (Illinois), 1930s(?)
  • Runtime: 1 hr 35 min
  • Starring: Jason Robards, Jonathan Pryce, Diane Ladd
  • Director: Jack Clayton
  • Writer: Ray Bradbury
  • Producer/Production Co: Walt Disney Productions, Bryna Productions
  • View Trailer: (link)
  • TVTropes: (link)
  • IMDB: (link)


MPAA Ratings

  • PG (mild Violence and Adult Content)

Tentacle Ratings

A rough measure of how "Lovecraftian" the work is:

  • S____ (One Tentacle: Debateably Lovecraftian; has almost no direct connection to Lovecraft's work)

Parts of the film have a vaguely Dreamlands feel to it, and the "Mr. Dark" character is virtually interchangeable with Nyarlathotep. The novel had a chilling scene with one of the characters leaving snail-like trails of slime over the roof of a house. Some Lovecraft fans may also appreciate the period setting.

Note: This rating is not intended as a measure of quality, merely of how closely related to Lovecraftian "Weird" fiction the work is.


Review Links:

  • Doug at Channel Awesome (link) - "The journey and the build up and the suspense is maybe what the star is supposed to be. ... It's a good film, but I don't think it's great."
  • Mark Brown at My Live Action Disney project (31/35) - (link) - "This film definitely succeeded in being darker than the usual Disney fare at the time. ... And I personally feel that the darkness of this movie makes it quite enjoyable. The effects are extremely good and believable for its time and some of the acting is pretty good with Jonathan Pryce’s being the best at showcasing an evil demonic creature to be feared. It’s not the scariest movie ever, but it’s definitely one of the freakiest Disney movies ever!"
  • Roger Ebert at (3.5/4 Stars) (link) - "It's one of the few literary adaptations I've seen in which the film not only captures the mood and tone of the novel, but also the novel's style. the unabashed romanticism of its evil carnival and even in the perfect rhythm of its title, this is a horror movie with elegance."
  • Nigel Honeybone at (link) - "Admittedly, the film doesn’t really succeed as horror. For one thing, some of the images might be too gruesome for the type of viewers who’d appreciate the other elements of the film. But, like most of Bradbury’s work, it conveys nostalgia for a bygone era... It’s a good story, certainly the best big-screen adaptation of a Bradbury story to date..."
  • Janet Maslin at The New York Times (link) - "The horror here, which involves some elaborate special effects, is very much in the service of a story about a father and son who rediscover each other, which gives it an added dimension."
  • Ryan McDonald at Shameless Self Expression (link) - "Like The Watcher in the Woods, I have no idea who Disney thought the audience for this was (and it did indeed flop), but this is clearly the better film. Creepy, atmospheric, and very unusual for a kids movie, but really good stuff as far as I’m concerned."
  • J. P. Roscoe at Basement Rejects (8/10) (link)- "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."
  • Kyle Saubert at Allusions of Grandure (link) - "Overall, Something Wicked isn’t likely to chill your bones too much, but it’s a highly enjoyable watch, one that combines a strong story with strong acting and a palpable sense of mood."
  • Richard Scheib at the Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy Film Review (4/5 Stars) (link) - " Clayton and cinematographer Russell Boyd (and one suspects with a helping hand from the special effects crew) create impossibly beautiful pastoral autumnal compositions – there is one gorgeous shot with fireside flames reflected off Vidal Peterson’s glasses – that would seem to live in no real world but the pages of Ray Bradbury-type lost childhood stories. ... Something Wicked This Way Comes is an excellent film. ... Apparently the studio were not satisfied with the film that Jack Clayton turned in, deeming it too tame for contemporary audiences, and went and added some more visceral scenes..."
  • Dan Stumpf at The Mystery File (link) - "...the film actually borders on greatness at times. ... The makers also get a thoughtful and well-judged performance from Jason Robards as Will’s father Charles — here promoted from janitor to librarian in the opulent small-town library. If Will and Jim are the motivators of the story, Charles is its firm anchor, and Robards rises to the occasion wonderfully. The confrontation between him and Jonathan Pryce is masterfully written, fluidly directed, and played to the hilt by two actors who seem to know they’re on to a good thing — pure movie magic!"
  • Zachary Wyman at Unsung Films (link) - "Younger viewers without a sense for dramatic subtlety are more likely to be swept up in the action that results—or rather, those images that come from it... the spell of this film arises from its pure commitment to bringing such fantasies about, cutting around within this nightmare with the perfect tempo—and as they moved across the floor he beat them with the pillow, before pulling back the covers—as though the story really was being told in this way—an author’s speech, aware that a stop to shore up the logic might dissolve the spell."


 Spoiler Section (Highlight to Read)

Mr. Dark brings his traveling carnival to a small Midwestern town and grants wishes, for a price.


Comments, Trivia, Dedication

  • Alternate artwork for the film's promotional posters: (link)

Associated Mythos Elements

Keeper Notes