KLAATU YOU (30)
July 22, 2020
One in a weekly series of enthusiastic posts, contributed by HILOBROW friends and regulars, on the topic of our favorite pre-Star Wars science fiction movies.
ESCAPE TO WITCH MOUNTAIN | d. JOHN HOUGH | 1975
The word “to” stands out. They’re not gonna escape from Witch Mountain, Witch Mountain is their goal. When they get to Witch Mountain, they’ll be home free. But to do it, they’ll have to outrun the Hunter Dogs from Bambi, whose animated forms (storyboarded by the first woman at Disney to receive an animator screen credit) were re-used in the title sequence.
They’re Tony and Tia, an otherworldy brother and sister who speak in the peculiarly earnest cadences of kids in Charlie Brown holiday specials. They have powers, though not quite the same powers. Only Tony can animate objects with harmonica music. Only Tina can communicate telepathically, with animals and also her brother.
When we meet Tony and Tia, they’re getting dropped off at an orphanage and I covet all the orphans’ clothing: earth-toned corduroys, stripy t-shirts, button-downs with enormous collars. Tony uses his powers against surly redhead Truck during a baseball game, and the other kids, while slightly nonplussed, somehow fail to totally lose their shit upon seeing a glove float off the ground and punch Truck in the face.
There’s something endearing about how most of the people Tony and Tia encounter aren’t actually terrified of them. The antagonists, sinister billionaire Aristotle Bolt and his sidekick Mr. Deranian, want to use Tony and Tia as humint — to find oil, predict revolutions, and other wealth-building duties as assigned. “Wealth, gentlemen, is like flesh,” Bolt explains. “It has to be nurtured and coddled.” Bolt attempts to nurture and coddle the sensitive siblings by hosting them in a spectacularly creepy suite decorated with, apparently, everything Tony and Tia have ever wanted, including several marionettes which Tony, inevitably, makes dance in one of the film’s many cool green-screen sequences.
The overall feel is soothing and frustrating in equal measure. The acting is broad and the script is written as though the intended audience consists solely of people who have never once drawn an inference. But the settings are lovely, the animals Tia communicates with telepathically are charming and well-trained, and the (spoiler alert) big reveal of who Tony and Tia really are — “The only industry left on our planet was the manufacturing of spaceships!” — complete with flying saucer and associated sound effects, is satisfying.
KLAATU YOU: INTRODUCTION by Josh Glenn | Matthew De Abaitua on ZARDOZ | Miranda Mellis on METROPOLIS | Rob Wringham on THE INVISIBLE MAN | Michael Grasso on THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN | Gordon Dahlquist on 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY | Erik Davis on DARK STAR | Carlo Rotella on THE OMEGA MAN | Madeline Ashby on KISS ME DEADLY | Adam McGovern on SILENT RUNNING | Michael Lewy on THIS ISLAND EARTH | Josh Glenn on WILD IN THE STREETS | Mimi Lipson on BARBARELLA vs. SINS OF THE FLESHAPOIDS | Vanessa Berry on THE FLY | Lynn Peril on ATTACK OF THE 50 FOOT WOMAN | Peggy Nelson on SOLARIS | Adrienne Crew on LOGAN’S RUN | Ramona Lyons on THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH | Kio Stark on THE STEPFORD WIVES | Dan Fox on FANTASTIC PLANET | Chris Lanier on IKARIE XB-1 | Devin McKinney on IDAHO TRANSFER | Mark Kingwell on THUNDERBIRDS ARE GO | Luc Sante on THE TENTH VICTIM | William Nericcio on DEATH RACE 2000 | Rob Walker on CAPRICORN ONE | Gary Panter on ANGRY RED PLANET | David Levine on THE STEPFORD WIVES | Karinne Keithley Syers on ALPHAVILLE | Carolyn Kellogg on IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE | Sara Ryan on ESCAPE TO WITCH MOUNTAIN | Lisa Jane Persky on PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE | Adam Harrison Levy on BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES | Gerald Peary on CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON | Susannah Breslin on A CLOCKWORK ORANGE | Seth on WAR OF THE WORLDS | James Hannaham on GOJIRA/GODZILLA | Lydia Millet on VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED | Matthew Daniel on FANTASTIC VOYAGE | Shawn Wolfe on ROLLERBALL | Erin M. Routson on WESTWORLD | Marc Weidenbaum on COLOSSUS: THE FORBIN PROJECT | Neil LaBute on 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA | Vicente Lozano on DAY OF THE DOLPHIN | Tom Roston on SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE | Katya Apekina on A BOY AND HIS DOG | Chelsey Johnson on THE BLOB | Heather Kapplow on SPACE IS THE PLACE | Brian Berger on THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS | Anthony Miller on THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL.
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