Something Wicked This Way Comes


Something Wicked This Way Comes

Critics Consensus

True terror and typical Disney wholesomeness clash uncomfortably in Something Wicked This Way Comes.



Reviews Counted: 30

liked it

Audience Score

User Ratings: 9,301


All Critics | Top Critics
Average Rating: N/A
Reviews Count: 0
Fresh: 0
Rotten: 0


Average Rating: 3.4/5

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Movie Info

After a carnival comes to Green Town, the good citizens are compelled to follow their deepest desires, caught under the spell of the malevolent Dr. Dark (Jonathan Pryce) who can grant those desires on one condition: that the grantees will forever join his freak show. Dr. Dark is after two young boys from the town in particular, while others in the town would certainly be easy marks. The sour-faced, older schoolteacher (Mary Grace Canfield) wants to be a seductive young woman, Ed the bartender (James Stacy) would like to regain his lost left arm and leg, and the librarian (Jason Robards) worries about a wasted life spent only in books. As Dr. Dark works his own brand of voodoo, the citizens and the two boys -- as well as the whole carnival itself -- approach a final reckoning. Something Wicked This Way Comes was based on a Ray Bradbury novel.


Jason Robards
as Charles Halloway
Vidal Peterson
as Will Halloway
Diane Ladd
as Mrs. Nightshade
Shawn Carson
as Jim Nightshade
Pam Grier
as Dust Witch
Royal Dano
as Tom Fury
Richard Davalos
as Mr. Crosetti
Dick Davalos
as Mr. Crosetti
Jake Dengel
as Mr. Tetley
Jack Dodson
as Mr. Douglas
Bruce M. Fischer
as Mr. Cooger
Ellen Geer
as Mrs. Halloway
James Stacy
as Ed the Bartender
Sharon Lea
as Young Miss Foley
Angelo Rossitto
as Little Person No. 1
Peter Risch
as Little Person No. 2
Sharan Lea
as Young Miss Foley
Tim T. Clark
as Teenage Couple
Jill Carroll
as Teenage Couple
Scott DeRoy
as Cooger as a Young Man
Sharon Ashe
as Townswoman
Arthur Hill
as Narrator
Brendan Klinger
as Cooger as a Child
View All

Critic Reviews for Something Wicked This Way Comes

All Critics (30) | Top Critics (5)

  • Possibilities for a dark, child's view fantasy set in rural America of yore are visible throughout the $20 million production but various elements have not entirely congealed into a unified achievement.

    Mar 10, 2009 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Top Critic
  • The plot concerns a mysterious carnival outside a small town in the early 1900s that grants the wishes of the town's citizens, with dark consequences.

    Mar 10, 2009 | Full Review…
  • Ultimately, though, it's an uneasy blend of horror and whimsy, with the allegory being hammered a little too hard for comfort. It's also marred by some dreadfully tacky special effects and set designs.

    Jun 24, 2006 | Full Review…

    John Preston

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • In its descriptions of autumn days, in its heartfelt conversations between a father and a son, in the unabashed romanticism of its evil carnival and even in the perfect rhythm of its title, this is a horror movie with elegance.

    Oct 23, 2004 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • A lively, entertaining tale combining boyishness and grown-up horror in equal measure.

    Aug 30, 2004 | Rating: 3.5/5
  • It's not hokey fun like Watcher in the Woods but just chilling and thoughtful and extremely well acted.

    Apr 4, 2019 | Rating: A | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Something Wicked This Way Comes

In the age of slasher horror and torture porn this tale of a traveling carnival that's trade is misfortune seems light, but still is resonant for it's moral lessons. Perhaps the best Ray Bradbury tale on film, all ominous and creepy, and better meant for adolescents.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer


I'm sure Something Wicked This Way Comes would have worked on me had I seen it at the proper age, but unfortunately I didn't. The film isn't altogether a mess. It's directed by Jack Clayton, has a score from James Horner, and features both Pam Grier and Jonathan Pryce in leading roles. What's not to love? Well it has a couple of annoying child actors in it for starters. Second, the meat of the story doesn't kick in until toward the end of the second act. It definitely gets dark, but not quite as wicked as its title promises. It feels more family-friendly than anything, and I think that's its major weakness. It has plenty going for it, but not enough for something really memorable or captivating. Worth a rent, but not much else I'm afraid.

Tim Salmons
Tim Salmons

Super Reviewer

Cute movie in the company of "The Lady in White" and "Stand By Me". Buddies deal with a mysterious carnival that visits town. I was expecting a little more wicked... but it is more family friendly than horror.

Thomas Johnston
Thomas Johnston

Super Reviewer

Very dark. Very disturbing. I think Disney was very depressed in the 80's. Something Wicked This Way Comes is a mixed bag of brilliance and boredom. When it tells the story of the young protagonists it is slow and doesn't seem to be building up to anything. When we finally get to the carnival, things liven up. Pryce is amazing in his role as Mr. Dark. Charming, sinister and very intimidating. The film touches on deep issues such as regret, acceptance and the fear of growing old. We see many characters past their prime. The aged beauty queen, the crippled sports athlete etc. We see how things become better, but at a cost. Robards is a strong emotional anchor between the world of the children and that of the carnival. Another fantastic Disney death here as well. It's a wonderful tale, but probably best for adults and older kids.

Luke Baldock
Luke Baldock

Super Reviewer

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