Return From Witch Mountain (1978) – John Hough

Tia (Kim Richards) and Tony (Ike Eisenmann) Return From Witch Mountain in Disney’s follow-up to the enjoyable Escape To Witch Mountain. While not as entertaining as the first film, there’s still some fun to be had, and it boasts the appearance of Christopher Lee and Bette Davis as the film’s villains, Victor and Letha respectively.

Uncle Bene (Denver Pyle) drops the kids off in the city for a few days enjoyment, and exploration of humanity, but they don’t even succeed in taking a taxi before things go sideways. Tony has a vision of a man falling off of a building and races off to save him. Stopping Sickle (Anthony James) moments before he strikes the ground catches the attention of his aunt, Letha (Davis) and the evil doctor she’s financing, Victor (Lee), who has created a means of controlling people through a mechanical device implanted behind their ear – he was testing it on Sickle before his plunge.

Before you can say ‘look out Tony!’ Tony is drugged and abducted by the pair who want to use him for their own nefarious purposes, which don’t always agree – Victor has big plans, Letha just wants to pull off some heists. And poor Tony has no choice but to obey their commands.

Tia, meanwhile, ditches the taxi to set off in pursuit of Tony, and can’t find him anywhere. Instead she stumbles across a group of wannabe toughs, Rocky (Jeffrey Jacquet), Muscles (Brad Savage), Crusher (Poindexter Yothers) and Dazzler (Christian Juttner), who aren’t surprised by her abilities, and are determined to help her find Tony while trying to prove they are bad.

They also have to work at eluding the local cop, Yokomoto (Jack Soo), who is determined that they go to school.

Once again the special effects range from some pretty fun wire work to some less than stellar model work, and while it’s cool to catch up with the characters again, the lack of Eddie Albert makes the film lack a certain charm that the first film boasted.

I do like the fact that the kids have separate stories this time around, and that allows them to grow, kind of. It had to be something to be that age and sharing scenes with a couple of screen legends! And on top of that, no matter how the film plays out, it does have a score by Lalo Schifrin, and he’s always worth listening to!

Whereas the first film had an innocence and honest charm to it, this one kind of missteps with the idea of these kids needing to be in a gang, and that it’s nothing but good fun. But by putting Tia, and eventually Tony, with other kids, that just makes for a fun adventure for younger viewers who may not see themselves as the main characters, but may recognize themselves in the others.

Simple family fun, but the first film is the stronger of the two.

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