Disney’s Witch Mountain Franchise

This page is about the Witch Mountain franchise owned by Walt Disney.

Escape to Witch Mountain (novel) Escape to Witch Mountain (1975 film) Return from Witch Mountain (1978 film)
Beyond Witch Mountain (1982 TV film) Escape to Witch Mountain (1995 TV film) Into the 21st Century

Escape to Witch Mountain (1968), novel

Escape to Witch Mountain (1968) by Alexander Key [Pinterest]
The original novel “Escape to Witch Mountain” by Alexander Key was published in 1968. The story is about two orphans, Tony and Tia, who have paranormal abilities. After their foster guardian, Mrs. Malone, dies, they are placed by social services in a juvenile detention home under grim, unwholesome conditions, where Tia befriends a black cat, Winkie. Both siblings can communicate via ultrasonic speech audible only to each other; but Tia cannot speak normally and is regarded as strange because of this. It is later revealed that Tia is not unusual in this respect, but Tony is; few of their kind have the ability to speak out loud.

When Lucas Deranian, a man claiming to be the brother of their deceased father, shows up at the detention centre to take custody of them, they instinctively know he is not their uncle and has ulterior motives.  Aided by inner-city Roman Catholic priest, Father O’Day, the pair run away and, as their suppressed memories begin to return, they realise that they are actually of extraterrestrial origin, their people having come to Earth because their own planet was dying.

Find out more on Wikipedia*.

Escape to Witch Mountain (1975), film

Escape to Witch Mountain (1975) theatrical poster

In 1975, Walt Disney Productions released a live-action film based on the novel, also called Escape to Witch Mountain. In this live-action film, Tony and Tia’s real uncle is Uncle Bené (whom they believe to have drowned in a long-ago accident). The film replaces the inner-city priest Father O’Day with Jason O’Day, a widower travelling in an RV who helps Tony and Tia escape their pursuers. Both Tia and Tony are able to speak out loud in the film, but Tony is not capable of Tia’s seemingly telepathic speech. A new major character in the film who is not in the novel is millionaire Aristotle Bolt, who wants to obtain the children’s powers.

Caught in a world where they do not belong…they have one chance to escape!

Released March 21, 1975 (US), March, 1978 (UK)

Tia and Tony are two orphaned youngsters with extraordinary powers. Lucas Deranian poses as their uncle in order to get the kids into the clutches of Deranian’s megalomanical boss, evil millionaire Aristotle Bolt, who wants to exploit them. Jason, a cynical widower, helps Tia and Tony “escape to witch mountain,” while at the same time Tia and Tony help Jason escape the pain of the loss of his wife. [IMDb*]

Notable Cast

Eddie Albert (1906-2005), “Jason O’Day”

Ray Milland (1907-1986), “Aristotle Bolt”

Donald Pleasance (1919-1995), “Lucas Deranian”

Kim Richards (1964-), “Tia Malone”

Ike Eisenmann (1962-), “Tony Malone”

Denver Pyle (1920-1997), “Uncle Bené”

Find out more at Wikipedia*.

Return from Witch Mountain (1978), film

Return from Witch Mountain (1978), theatrical poster

The success of the first movie resulted in a sequel Return from Witch Mountain (1978). Eisenmann, Richards, and Pyle reprised their roles, but new villains Letha Wedge and Dr. Victor Gannon took the place of Bolt and Deranian. In September 1978, Return from Witch Mountain was re-released to theatres on a double bill with Escape to Witch Mountain (1975).

Sinister forces from this world against two young space travellers from another

Released March 10, 1978 (US), November 2, 1978 (UK)

In this sequel to Escape to Witch Mountain (1975) Tia and Tony, teenage sister and brother who possess extraordinary powers, leave their safe refuge on Witch Mountain for a trip to Los Angeles, California (their transport ship lands in the Rose Bowl). Tony is kidnapped by the evil Dr. Gannon and his spinster partner Letha and implanted with a chip and mind-controlled into helping Gannon and Letha commit various crimes. It’s up to Tia and a gang of truant kids to rescue Tony and prevent a major disaster. [IMDb*]

Notable Cast

Bette Davis (1908-1989), “Letha Wedge”

Christopher Lee (1922-2015), “Dr. Victor Gannon”

Kim Richards (1964-), “Tia Malone”

Ike Eisenmann (1962-), “Tony Malone”

Denver Pyle (1920-1997), “Uncle Bené”

Find out more at Wikipedia*

Beyond Witch Mountain (1982), TV film

In 1982, Beyond Witch Mountain was produced as a television movie and broadcast on CBS through Walt Disney on February 20, 1982. It serves as the third and final film in the series. It was originally intended to be the pilot for a television series, but no networks thought that viewers would take the show seriously, and so a second episode was never made.

The film contradicts the 1978 sequel Return from Witch Mountain, because in that film, Tia and Tony are of teenage years, Uncle Bené is still alive, and in both of the original movies, Tony had to answer Tia verbally—he did not have the power to talk through his mind.

Although Eddie Albert returned to play Jason O’Day from the original 1975 movie, the parts of Tony and Tia were recast with actors comparable in age to Ike Eisenmann and Kim Richards when they first played the parts. Tracey Gold from Growing Pains played Tia, and Andy Freeman played Tony. The parts of Aristotle Bolt, Lucas Deranian and Uncle Bené were also recast.

After reports of a boy’s amazing abilities surface, Tony and Tia are sent to go find him knowing that the boy must be from their world. They are joined by an old friend, Jason O’Day, and a black cat named Winky. Together they race to find the boy before their old nemesis Aristotle Bolt does. [IMDb*]

Notable Cast

Eddie Albert (1906-2005), “Jason O’Day”

Tracey Gold (1969-), “Tia”

Andy Freeman (1970-), “Tony”

Efrem Zimbalist Jr (1918-2014), “Bolt”

J D Cannon (1922-2005), “Deranian”

Noah Beery Jr (1913-1994), “Uncle Bene”

Find out more at Wikipedia*

Escape to Witch Mountain (1995), TV film remake

In 1995, Escape to Witch Mountain was produced as a remake television movie, with a different cast and several details changed or omitted, and premiered on ABC on April 29, 1995, as part of The Wonderful World of Disney.

A brother-sister duo possessing psychic powers are pursued by a millionaire who intends to use them for his gain. [IMDb*]

Notable Cast

Elisabeth Moss (1982-), “Anna”

Erik von Detton (1982-), “Danny”

Robert Vaughn (1932-2016), “Edward Bolt”

Vincent Schiavelli (1948-2005), “Waldo Fudd”

Henry Gibson (1935-2009), “Ravetch”

Brad Dourif (1950-), “Bruno the Hermit”/”Luthor”

Find out more at Wikipedia*

Into the 21st Century

The Blair Witch Mountain Project (2002) was developed as a parody of the 1999 film The Blair Witch Project. The film is directed by Ike Eisenmann, who also reprises his role as Tony alongside Kim Richards as Tia. The film follows intrepid journalist Blair Billingsley, portrayed by Hope Levy, as she tries to track down Tia and Tony, now adults.

Race to Witch Mountain (2009), a second remake of the 1975 Disney live-action film Escape to Witch Mountain. The live-action film is directed by Andy Fickman and stars Dwayne Johnson, Ciarán Hinds, AnnaSophia Robb, Alexander Ludwig, and Carla Gugino. Original co-stars Kim Richards and Ike Eisenmann also play small roles. In the new film, the children’s names are Sara and Seth. They crash their spacecraft and look for an experiment their parents left on Earth for research to help their own dying planet. Sara can move things with her mind and read minds. Seth can go through solid objects and resist high-level impacts, such as getting hit by a van, by changing his molecular structure.

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