Return from Witch Mountain

 
Creepy classic about mind control still provides thrills.
  • Review Date: March 2, 2009
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 1978
  • Running Time: 94 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Brother and sister team treat each other with respect and kindness. They meet a rag-tag group of kids in a gang who help them survive the frightening mind control hi-jinx of Dr. Gannon and Letha.

Violence & scariness

Some frightening threats are uttered by Dr. Gannon. He tells Tony to "make that crane drop on" Tia. He also yells, "Crush her!" These commands are enacted so that heavy objects threaten to crush Tia.

Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism

Ford, GE, and the Rose Bowl in Pasadena are logos that can be recognized.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Victor and Letha command Tony to pour them a drink of red wine. Tony is injected with sedative a few times.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this live-action Disney classic centers around the theme of mind control. Since Tony and Tia are capable of using their psychic powers to move objects of any size, their talents are invaluable to evil geniuses. A doctor uses an implanted device to control Tony's mind. The child has no ability to refuse the doctor's whims.

Parents say

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What's the story?

In this sequel to Escape to Witch Mountain, Tony (Ike Eisenmann) and Tia (Kim Richards) are transported by space ship to Los Angeles so that they can get a taste of the "big city." Once they bid farewell to their uncle and climb into a waiting taxi cab, all of their plans go awry. They never make it to the hotel where they were planning to stay. Instead, Tony is abducted by an evil scientist (Christopher Lee) and his money-hungry companion (Bette Davis.) They recognize that he has psychic power and implant a device that controls his thoughts. Tia enlists help from a "gang" of kids who help her find her brother. Tony's captors try to make money and gain power by using him as they wish.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

The very fact that the kids end up in a plutonium processing plant makes this adventure a little too James Bondish for its target age group. But Bette Davis and Christopher Lee bring a villainous intensity to this "kid power" project that gives it credence. Parents who remember when this movie hit the big screen will enjoy reminiscing with their kids about the days when being in a gang had nothing to do with guns and drugs.

Speaking of parents -- there are none to be seen in this movie. The closest thing to a parental figure is the lovable truant officer Yoyo (Jack Soo.) And you have to wonder what would happen if Tia didn't save Tony. But no matter -- the trip back in time is worth the effort it takes to suspend a little disbelief.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about mind control. What is it? Who has the ability to control your mind? Have you seen someone so mesmerized by someone or something (like television or video games) that he or she is controlled? Is this healthy?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:March 10, 1978
DVD release date:March 10, 2009
Cast:Bette Davis, Christopher Lee, Ike Eisenmann, Kim Richards
Director:John Hough
Studio:Walt Disney Pictures
Genre:Action/Adventure
Topics:Adventures, Book characters, Space and aliens
Run time:94 minutes
MPAA rating:G
MPAA explanation:General Audiences

This review of Return from Witch Mountain was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 10 years old March 26, 2009
age 8+
 

This is OK

This is OK, but too much violence, the only thing that wasn't really scary was "Alfred" the trained goat, who was really fun to watch.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Kid, 8 years old June 29, 2009
age 7+
 
What other families should know
Great messages

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