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).
Well, it's not exactly Harry Potter, but darn if the similarities aren't there. I don't fault anyone for stealing the uber-ripe story of kids who can do magic, but suffice it to say that even though the look of Witch Mountain is deathly dated (dig the Winnebago and the wood paneling), today's children ought to enjoy the film. It's low on production values (a spinning coat rack and hovering children will have to suffice for special effects), but it's heavy on heart. It's all ultra-G-rated good times-good times, and hardly the kind of experience that spawns anyone's desire to buy action figures and vibrating brooms.
Now on DVD nearly 30 years after its creation, the commentary track is on the vapid side (hey, they used a crane to lift the levitating kid!), but historians and those with fond memories of the cinema of the 1970s should be thrilled.
Run time: 97 mins
In Theaters: Friday 21st March 1975
Production compaines: Buena Vista Home Entertainment, Walt Disney Television
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 76%
Fresh: 16 Rotten: 5
IMDB: 6.3 / 10
Director: John Hough
Producer: Jerome Courtland
Screenwriter: Robert M. Young
Starring: Robert Vaughn as Edward Bolt, Elisabeth Moss as Anna, Erik von Detten as Danny, Sam Horrigan as Xander, Lynne Moody as Lindsay Brown, Perrey Reeves as Zoe Moon, Lauren Tom as Claudia Ford, Vincent Schiavelli as Waldo Fudd, Henry Gibson as Ravetch, Bobby Motown as Skeeto, Kevin Tighe as Sheriff Bronson