Keep Your Goddamned Hands Off My Childhood: Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983) Edition
I was about 8 years old when I first saw Something Wicked This Way Comes, an adaptation of a Ray Bradbury novel produced by none other than Walt Disney Studios. I can honestly say without a shred of exaggeration that this movie terrified and completely amazed me. It was a time during the early 80’s that HBO had only about a dozen movies in its rotation at any given time so it replayed constantly and so I watched it – constantly, almost compulsively. This movie also came to personify the dark side of Fall in the Midwest for me. From the skeletal reach of trees lining the streets of small town America to the rustle of dead leaves collecting and blowing through neighborhoods and backyards. Even my brother, 7 years my senior, was able to enjoy the quiet creep-out turns to terror vibe of this movie and this was during the slasher heyday of Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger.
So now it’s 30 years later and I think I could be even more afraid of Mr. Dark and what he has to offer. If you’ve seen the film* or read the book, you know that it’s the adults of Green Town, IL that fall prey to Mr. Dark’s temptations. He offers them a chance to return to the beauty or strength and vigor of their youth. And really, what adult standing at the brink of 40 can’t understand that? However, most recently what I fear most about this film is the news that it will be remade. Correction: the novel will be adapted again by Seth Grahame-Smith, author of “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” and screen writer of Dark Shadows and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.
I actually have a good bit of respect for what Mr. Grahame-Smith has done as a novelist. “P & P & Z” was actually a respectful homage to a classic that is often thrust upon the youth of the U.S. as obligatory reading. But obviously with a fun twist that could make it more easily palatable to your average teenage male (or 30-something father of two). I’ve also read another of his novels, “Unholy Night”. It is a BRUTAL telling of the first days of Jesus Christ with the caveat that the Three Wise Man weren’t traveling kings but actually fugitive mercenaries in disguise that feel compelled to protect the newborn son of God from the Herod’s campaign of murdering the first born sons of his empire. It was also a fun and intense read that I enjoyed while my girls were running around our community pool. I highly recommend both of these titles for you horror fans looking for a good summer read.
Seth Grahame-Smith is a master of bringing violence and brutality to classic or time tested stories. He takes these stories and adds a little pulp to entertain a modern day audience. The problem for me is that I do not believe that “Something Wicked This Way Comes” could benefit from any of the pulp-y strengths that he brings to the table.
Which brings me to my challenge…
Mr. Grahame-Smith gently criticized the original film for not being as true to the source material as he would like. His plan is to develop a treatment, hand it off to a screenwriter to complete, and make this his first directorial effort. My plan is to read the novel, re-watch the film, and detail the experience for you. I’ve never read the novel so I’m looking forward to the experience. My fear is returning to a childhood favorite for the first time in years.
So there it is friends. I’m placing a personal, nostalgic favorite on the chopping block. Let’s see what comes of it.
*I think the use of the word “film” is pretentious and it’s most often used as an attempt to elevate the artistry of the movie in question or the expertise of the writer. I use it sparingly and only to illustrate my respect for the work. Also, I already know I’m an idiot and I have no intention of attempting to white wash that.