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Return from Witch Mountain
Return from Witch Mountain, film poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by John Hough
Produced by Ron Miller
Jerome Courtland
Written by Malcolm Marmorstein
Starring Bette Davis
Christopher Lee
Kim Richards
Ike Eisenmann
Jack Soo
Anthony James
Music by Lalo Schifrin
Cinematography Frank V. Phillips
Editing by Bob Bring
Studio Walt Disney Productions
Distributed by Buena Vista Distribution
Release date(s) March 10, 1978 (1978-03-10)
Running time 94 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Return from Witch Mountain is a 1978 American science fiction–adventure film and a sequel to Escape to Witch Mountain (1975) and the second film in the Witch Mountain franchise. It was produced by Walt Disney Productions. It was written by Malcolm Marmorstein and is based on characters created by Alexander Key, who also wrote the novelization of the film for Disney. Ike Eisenmann, Kim Richards, and Denver Pyle reprise their roles as Tony, Tia, and Uncle Bené—humanoid extraterrestrials with special powers including telepathy and telekinesis. The two main villains are played by Bette Davis as Letha Wedge, a greedy woman using the last of her money to finance the scientific experiments of Dr. Victor Gannon, played by Christopher Lee.

In September 1978, the film was re-released to theaters on a double bill with Escape to Witch Mountain.

A television film called Beyond Witch Mountain was made in 1982.

Plot

Tony and his sister Tia are in need of a vacation. Uncle Bené drops them off in their flying saucer at the Rose Bowl Stadium in Los Angeles, California, after which the siblings quickly become separated from each other. A man named Dr. Victor Gannon (Lee) and his assistant Letha Wedge (Davis) happen to see Tony using his powers to save Letha's nephew Sickle from certain death. Realizing that Tony has supernatural powers, Dr. Gannon drugs the boy with a tranquilizer shot and takes him back to their laboratory. There, Dr. Gannon successfully tests a new mind-control technology on him. Under its influence, Tony is completely hypnotized and does everything that his kidnappers want him to do, including stealing gold from a museum exhibit and stopping Tia from finding them. With Tony at his robotic bidding, Dr. Gannon hopes to achieve recognition within the scientific community and worldwide power, while Letha merely wants a return on her investment.

A group of would-be tough boys whom Tia comes across, called the Earthquake Gang, are being chased by the Golden Goons, in which Tia then telepathically gets rid of them. The gang of boys accept her into their gang and help her look for her brother. They let her sleep in their secret hideout, where she often gets many visions of where her brother is; first at the gold museum where Tony is controlled by a chip attached to his ear. He unstacks the gold but is followed by Mr. Yokomoto, the truant officer who thinks Tony should go to school, and chases the doctor, aunt, nephew, and Tony in his minibus unsuccessfully. As a result, Mr. Yokomoto destroyed public property and ends up losing his job. Next, Tia uses her telepathy to trace Tony's hideout, but is caught by Sickle using chloroform. She telepathically asks Alfred the goat to find the Earthquake Gang. They chase the goat back to the hideout.

In the meantime Tony, Letha, Sickle, and Victor drive to a plutonium plant to steal plutonium. Tia traces their location and describes it to be a "big round ball." One of the members assume the location to be another place, and Tia is upset. They come across Mr. Yokomoto, who tells them that he lost his job and the only thing that works is the radio. The news given about the plutonium plant stresses on the word "molecular flow."

Tia then asks Mr. Yokomoto to drive them to the location after she magically repairs the minibus. After Victor and his gang reach the site, he shuts down the plant's cooling system. In exchange for turning it on, he requires 5 million dollars in cash. The people working at the plant make arrangements for the money as soon as possible, but Tia reaches the site in time, where she and Tony battle to turn on the cooling system. Tia manages to turn it on, but Victor commands Tony to kill his sister. In this course of time, she understands how he is being controlled and destroys the device. Tia explains what had happened to him, in which Tony makes Victor, Sickle and Letha go up to the ceiling with no way of getting down. Mr. Yokomoto drives the kids to the Rose Bowl Stadium and the Earthquake Gang come along to say bye. Tony and Tia bid farewell to the kids after they board the flying saucer and go back to Witch Mountain.

Cast

  • Bette Davis as Letha Wedge
  • Christopher Lee as Dr. Victor Gannon
  • Kim Richards as Tia Malone
  • Ike Eisenmann as Tony Malone
  • Jack Soo as Mr. "Yo-Yo" Yokomoto
  • Anthony James as Sickle
  • Richard Bakalyan as Eddie
  • Ward Costello as Mr. Clearcole
  • Christian Juttner as Dazzler
  • Brad Savage as Muscles
  • Poindexter Yothers as Crusher
  • Jeffrey Jacquet as Rocky
  • Stu Gilliam as Dolan
  • William Bassett as Operations officer
  • Tom Scott as Monitor
  • Helene Winston as Dowager
  • Albert Able as Engineer
  • Denver Pyle as Uncle Bené
  • Brian Part, Pierre Daniel as Goons
  • Wally Brooks as Taxi fare
  • Mel Gold as Security guard
  • Bob Yothers as Cop
  • Casse Jaeger as School patrolman
  • Larry Mamorstein as Guard
  • Bob James as Gate guard
  • Ruth Warshawsky as Lady in car
  • Adam Anderson as Man in museum
  • Rosemary Lord as Woman in museum
  • Ted Noose as Policeman
  • Wally Berns as Man in car

Actors Kim Richards and Ike Eisenmann appear in at least four films together—this one, the original 1975 Disney film Escape to Witch Mountain, and the television film Devil Dog: The Hound of Hell. Richards portrays the roadside waitress and Eisenmann portrays the Sheriff in a re-imagined remake of the original film Race to Witch Mountain, released in March 2009.

Jack Soo (Mr. "Yo-Yo" Yokomoto) was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in the autumn of 1978, several months after the film's release. Return from Witch Mountain would be his final movie appearance, as he died the following January.

The emergency voice heard over Yokomoto's minibus radio—announcing the problem at the plutonium plant—is that of Gary Owens.

Filming locations

Filming started on April 11, 1977.

The otherwise vacant lot, upon which the children's dilapidated mansion hideout stands, was at the Alameda Street railroad yard in California, where the Rochester House (a relic from the 1880s) was waiting for restoration and relocation. The house was never restored and was ultimately demolished in 1979.

Scenes of Dr. Victor Gannon's mansion, the location of his laboratory, were filmed at Moby Castle on Durand Drive, Hollywood Hills, Los Angeles.

The tunnel scenes were filmed at the Fillmore and Western Railway in Fillmore, California constructing a faux tunnel structure. The faux tunnel still stands and can be seen from CA-126/Telegraph Road.

The gold bar robbery sequence was filmed at the Natural History Museum in Exposition Park, Los Angeles. The building facing the park's Rose Garden was used for exterior shots of the museum. The scene in which Yokomoto's minibus is overturned and breaks a fire hydrant was filmed near the Sunset Boulevard bridge and Glendale Boulevard underpass intersection, in the Echo Park district.

Novelization

Alexander Key wrote a novelization of Return from Witch Mountain, based on Malcolm Marmorstein's screenplay; the book was released by Westminster Press in 1978 to coincide with the film's theatrical release.

Home video

Return from Witch Mountain was released on VHS in April 1986. It was first released as a Special Edition DVD in Region 1 on September 2, 2003, re-released on DVD in a two-movie collection along with Escape to Witch Mountain on September 5, 2006, and re-released as part of the Walt Disney Family Classics line on March 10, 2009.

On October 13, 2015, Return from Witch Mountain was released on Blu-ray as a Disney Movie Club exclusive title.

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