Hollywood Gothique
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Dark’s Pandemonium Carnival should be a Halloween Haunt

Has there ever been a Halloween haunt based on Dark’s Pandemonium Carnival from Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983)? If not, why?

Of course we know the reason: Walt Disney Pictures does not want to tarnish their family-friendly brand by licensing a scary attraction.

But has anyone ever tried to fly under the corporate radar by filing off the numbers and doing some kind of generic knockoff with the basics intact? Disney can hardly lay claim to fortune tellers, waxwork museums, sideshow freaks. Even the essential element – a sinister Master of Ceremonies luring you into a carnival that grants your deepest desire – can be massaged into something different enough to avoid prosecution. (Alice Cooper certainly got away with it for his 1994 album, The Last Temptation.)

Come on, haunters. The world needs this!

Update: For those of you who may be too young to recall, Something Wicked This Way Comes is Walt Disney Pictures’ adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s 1962 novel of the same title, which tells of two young friends, whose small town somewhere in middle America is invaded by a mysterious carnival. The film is one of several the company made in the wake of Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, hoping to reach a wider audience than parents with young children, and it shows obvious signs of compromise: it wants to be scary but not too scary. The carnival, run by the mysterious Mr. Dark (Jonathan Pryce) basically grants people their deepest wish, but there is always a horrible price to pay: an aging spinster regains her youthful beauty but goes blind; a man yearning for erotic encounters with exotic beauties is transformed into the carnival’s bearded lady, and so on. The wish-gone-wrong trope is an old one, but it works in the context of a young-adult horror story about innocent boys on the cusp of adolescence, for whom approaching adulthood is a bit of a scary mystery.

Steve Biodrowski, Administrator

A graduate of USC film school, Steve Biodrowski has worked as a film critic, journalist, and editor at Movieline, Premiere, Le Cinephage, The Dark Side., Cinefantastique magazine, Fandom.com, and Cinescape Online. He is currently Managing Editor of Cinefantastique Online and owner-operator of Hollywood Gothique.