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It's no secret that Ray Bradbury has been unhappy with most cinematic adaptations of his work. In his eyes, The Illustrated Man and The Martian Chronicles were both disappointments. "Martian Chronicles was mainly boring!" he says. "If the director had asked me, I would have said, 'Set your camera up here, cut the cackle don't talk too much, use the metaphor-rebuild those rocket ships, they're all ugly, they all look like flying phalluses!' It was embarrassing, they looked like scenes out of Buck Rogers... in 1934."

Yet, since work began, Bradbury has expressed his pleasure with the way that his fantasy novel, Something Wicked This Way Comes, has progressed in its translation to the big screen. His satisfaction has lasted through 18 months of production, a fact which attests to his faith in the creative team responsible for the Disney film. "In the case of Something Wicked" he says, "I think we're well on the path, and I'm very optimistic, which is unusual for me."

In one of Disney Studios' three commissaries, the Coral Room, the prolific author, dressed in shorts and t-shirt, lunched on gazpacho and talked of life and his love for this longtime film project.

Bradbury's tale of the carnival of evil actually has its roots in his childhood. "When I was seven years old, one of my cousins died, way out in the farm country," he remembers. "At three a.m., I would wake up and hear a locomotive passing by in the distance. For me, that was like the sound of the dead going by in the night. I never forgot it. When I think of it, even today, it still chills me."

The character of the ominous Mr. Dark also found its inspiration in a childhood experience. "I took him from a real Mr. Electrico who I met when I was 12 years old," comments Bradbury. "He worked in a carnival and was very kind to me. I've repaid him by making him the villain in my novel all these years later!"