A dark and brooding look at the sinful desires that corrupt people is not what you would expect out of Disney as a theater goer in the early Eighties. Yet that is exactly what this movie is. When a strange carnival named Dark's Pandemonium arrives at a small town, harrowing encounters with Dark and his minions follow. Soon the lives of the townsfolk are on the line, if not their very souls. Filled with horror, regrets, and menace the movie is ultimately about fathers and sons. UPDATED January 2014 with better screen captures and completely rewritten text.
The late Seventies had not been kind to the Walt Disney company at the box office. In an attempt to regain lost audiences the studio had been moving more toward the serious side in their films; starting in 1979 with The Black Hole and the dollowing year with The Watcher in the Woods. 1982 was supposed to be the year of big change with the experimental TRON and this gothic movie hitting theaters to revitalize the company’s box office success.
Alas, that plan fell apart due to a disastrous test screening that led to reshoots a year later designed to make the movie more acceptable to a family audience. However, those changes did not change the movie enough and the end result was still a dark and terrifying movie that was guaranteed to give small kids nightmares.