A vehicle floats in midair ... a coat rack comes to life and attacks a sheriff ... and wild animals are putty in the hands of Tony and Tia Malone in Disney's thrilling fantasy adventure about the psychic powers of two young orphans. Their clairvoyance prompts evil millionaire Aristotle Bolt (Ray Milland) to lure them to his mansion to exploit their powers. While escaping, they meet a friendly camper (Eddie Albert) and begin to unravel the mystery of their origin. Soon, all three are fleeing townspeople who have branded the children witches. But then IT happens! Someone with even greater powers takes over and leads the children -- and the audience -- into a dazzling and unexpected experience ... one that is truly out of this world!
The effects are low-tech and no longer special, but Escape to Witch Mountain
still has plenty of Disney live-action charm. It's rather quaint by later standards, coming just two years before Star Wars
upped the ante on movie magic, but the story's got timeless appeal as a precursor to Harry Potter's more lavish brand of kid-wizardry. Here you've got Tony (Ike Eisenmann) and sister Tia (Kim Richards), orphans unaware of their mysterious past, who are taken in by a nefarious liar (Ray Milland) seeking to exploit their supernatural powers. Populated by '70s stalwarts like Donald Pleasance and Eddie Albert (the later playing the kids' grown-up accomplice, unwittingly rescuing them from Milland), this lightweight Disney fare is perfect for kids under 10, with such enticements as a clever cat mascot named Winky (because he winks a lot), Tony's magical harmonica... and a Winnebago that flies! With a sci-fi climax, this popular hocus-pocus spawned a 1978 sequel (Return from Witch Mountain
) that has proven similarly popular with kids. --Jeff Shannon