A 19-year-old Jamie Lee Curtis makes her film debut as Laurie Strode, a bookish, anti-social highschooler unaware that while she babysits on Halloween night, a psychotic maniac lurks in the neighborhood. The strong, silent type, this hulking being quietly walks the town in which he killed his sister 15 years earlier, back for more after a hospital escape. Meanwhile, his horrified doctor (the ominous Donald Pleasance) waits, as single-mindedly obsessed as the killer he's chasing.
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A shockingly lithe Robert De Niro stars as Monroe Stahr, a 1930s studio executive based on Irving Thalberg (a prolific producer who died at the age of 37, presumably from overwork). Stahr has lost loves in the past and a crushing chip on his shoulder in the present. He's a workhorse, but he wants something more out of life.
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That's exciting enough, but Carpenter also calculates in a ticking time bomb narrative device. Air Force One is hijacked by some socialist radicals who crash-land the plane into the heart of "this inhuman dungeon of [an] imperialist prison." The President (Donald Pleasence) manages to escape in a safety pod, only to be captured by none other than the leader of a ferocious band of gypsies who control the island, the self-proclaimed Duke of New York (Isaac Hayes).
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Watch carefully and you'll find Harry's origins written all over Escape to Witch Mountain. Young Tia and Tony (Harry Potter) find themselves orphaned and without memory of their parents. When their foster parents die, they're sent to an orphanage, where an evil capitalist named Deranian (Voldemort) tries to subvert their budding magical powers -- levitation, telepathy, animal communication, and more -- for his own whims. They escape and head for the mythical Witch Mountain (Hogwarts), where they're sure they'll be accepted. They get there thanks to an old map (lightning bolt scar) that Tia has, reminding her of her past. Helping them along the way is a crotchety but folksy camper (Hagrid) and a pet cat (owl), not to mention various other obstacles and helping hands -- including a magic harmonica (wand).
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Set in dreary Canada during World War II, Kane stars as the mouse-quiet Jeannie Dougall, stuck at home while her brother's overseas. When her brother returns home on leave with an army buddy named Billy (Doug McGrath), Billy forces himself on Jeannie after a night of boozing. When Jeannie ends up pregnant and the shame of her simpleton father (Donald Pleasence), he exacts a wrath so freakish in its methodical logic that it redeems the previous 100 minutes of rather dull exposition.
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