I wanted to wait for Halloween to do this post, but it’s okay to do it now cause there’s a million and one monsters to choose from when the season comes around. For some this may be a really random post, but I’ve been on this Michelle Pfieffer mood recently and I realized she played more then on “movie witch” in her long and very entertaining film repertoire. So I looked at the bigger picture and noticed that Nicole Kidman (one of my faves) played a couple witches too. That’s where this feature begins, I decided to do a small rundown of some of the movies I’ve seen that have featured some great actresses on film. Some of the movies here aren’t so great, but performance-wise, these movies are certainly worth looking into for that alone. Witches are a lot of fun and will continue to entrance movie goers for a long time to come.
The Wizard of Oz (1939) – The classic film (which has stood the test of time, that’s a fact because “Oz the Great and Powerful” was just atrocious to sit through) features Margaret Hamilton as the original green bad girl. This movie scared children’s wits and continues to be as iconic as ever. Hamilton deserved an Oscar nomination for this. She was terrifying and so good, despite apparently being really very sweet and kind in real life. Today “The Wizard of Oz” has sprung a legacy of spin-offs including the book/Broadway musical “Wicked and the newest James Franco movie that I unfortunately saw. Hamilton still sits in the top of the movie witch throne for me. Mila Kunis has nothing on her.
The Witches of Eastwick (1987) – Besides Kim Novak’s turn in a 1950s classic, and of course the iconic television show “Bewitched” (starring the irresistible Elizabeth Montgomery as witch house wife Samantha), witches died down in Hollywood until “The Witches of Eastwick” hit theatres. Though the film had mixed reviews, it made a whooping $63 million dollars in the box office. Maybe because we had three sassy superstars playing our more-then-sensual witches. Pictured above is Cher, Susan Sarandon and Michelle Pfieffer doing a spell in the mansion of the humanized Satan played by no one else but the truly awesome Jack Nicholson. The film features a lot of 1980-esque scenes, music and HAIR DOS. But it’s okay, cause “The Witches of Eastwick” is a film delight for fans of these Hollywood superstars looking for a fun role to watch them in.
The Witches (1990) – Apart from Anjelica Houston’s lead role in “The Addams Family” series, the film adaptation of Roald Dahl’s children’s novel “The Witches” is probably her best known role by normal movie goers. Houston’s performance wasn’t only cartoonish and fun, but she was most certainly good in it. That can’t be denied at all. She nearly the takes the cake along side Margaret Hamilton, because she’s most definitely our generations “Wicked Witch of the West”. Watch this if you haven’t. Roald Dahl movies are always so delightful to watch. This probably takes the cake as being the best one along side such classics like “Matilda” (1996) and “James and the Giant Peach” (1996). I’m still waiting for a couple Dahl movies to be made in the future, hopefully much more awesome then what we’ve already seen.
Hocus Pocus (1993) – Admittedly, I grew up with this movie. My siblings and I were never sick of seeing it when we were little kids. The funny thing is I haven’t seen it in years. So I need to find a copy of this soon. From what I remember, Disney’s “Hocus Pocus” wasn’t made to be anything but pure magic fun. I don’t know if kids today are aware of many of themes in the film, cause they used the word “virgin” a lot (being a virgin is a big part of the story) but Disney made one hell of a witch movie. Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy play witches (who aren’t too bright) who is resurrected from the dead when a virgin lights their evil black candle. It’s Halloween night and they need to find a young virgin child to suck their soul to be able to stay young and beautiful on the Earth forever. Campy? Well just watch it and wait for the musical numbers. Now those are campy! I’m singing while writing this post, “I put a spell on youuuuuu and now you’re miiiiineeee”.
The Crucible (1996) – It’s beyond me why “The Crucible” wasn’t too well receive back in 1996. I understand that it’s not Winona Ryder, Daniel Day-Lewis and Joan Allen’s best work (they have a phenomenal body of work) but “The Crucible” is still entertaining and it made “witches” more realistic and human then what was introduced to us in previous movies. Don’t quote me on this, but after the film, it seems like witch movies really changed in the late 1990s. They weren’t about spooky costumes, long nooses and campy cinema anymore, they became more serious, dark and emotional. Winona Ryder is a witch in Salem, but when the witch trials break out, she begins to use her “powers” (both magically and manipulatively) to point fingers at her ex-lover (Day-Lewis) and his innocent wife (Allen) to be able to strike revenge on them. It’s always a pleasure to watch such acting giants at work, and “The Crucible” is no different when it comes to witch movies.
The Craft (1996) – I don’t think “The Craft” was a very good movie. But it surely had its moments. Headlined by Neve Campbell of “Scream” fame, the film follows four teenage girls who explore dark magic and witchcraft within their high school. So yeah, they eventually fight with each other yada yada yada, and one is beyond powerful then the others. It’s a simple tale, think “The Covenant” (2006) with girls in it. Though the movie lacks some strengths, the film still has some rather trademark witchcraft scenes. I will always remember the girls chanting spells by the beach, making other girl’s hair fall out, changing their eye colours and stealing spell books from the occult section of book stores. But my favorite scene in the film is when the girls first feel black magic in their presence when they make their friend levitate with the spell called “Light As a Feather Stiff As a Board”.
Practical Magic (1998) – Oscar winners Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman were so hot in “Practical Magic” that it’s hands down the sexiest witch movie out there. Of course, the film has more of an adult subject matter as they don’t take the film too far in terms of magic. Oh wait…they brought the dead back to life…so yes they did. These two luscious actresses play two sisters from a long line of witches in their family. Sandra plays the responsible one with children. While Kidman is the headstrong aunt who always gets herself into trouble with guys. As they live their lives, the film chronicles bad boyfriends, margarita nights, the living dead, murder, blood pacts and magic. But what the film is really about hits the right chords: family.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001) – When I saw the first edition to the “Harry Potter” movies back in grade school, everybody wanted to be a witch or a wizard. Wands, coats, broomsticks were the buzz for a long time. And every year they produced films that got better and more mature. I’m not the biggest Harry Potter fan out there, but I really enjoyed growing up with these movies, literally. It’s nice how they made the characters and subject matter (hell even the way they filmed the separate movies) more mature as the audiences grew up with Harry, Ron and Hermoine. The great thing about Harry Potter is they never forgot about the awesome witches that the whole series featured. The main one would be Emma Watson playing Hermione Granger, who was smart but also very sassy. Helena Bonham-Carter played an awesome gothic witch when she played Bellatrix Lestrange as well. But my all time favourite in the entire serious would be Maggie Smith’s Professor McGonogall, who to me is plain and simply pretty BAD-ASS. She was always bad-ass to me, and she always will be.
Bewitched (2005) – Miss Kidman took a break off from her Independent Darlings and string of Oscar hits when she decided to play Samantha in the big screen version of the beloved 60s sitcom “Bewitched”. It’s funny because a year of two back (circa 2003), I always though Nicole looked a bit like Elizabeth Montgomery. I’ll say this, the movie isn’t good at all. But for nostalgic reasons, I still went to see it. Though I’d have it many other ways then what they produced, Kidman is the only perfect Samantha out there. She can act, be cute…and duh, THE NOSE THING was perfecto. And it was totally witch-ception: Kidman played a witch who wanted to be an actress who gets a role playing a witch in a revamped version of “Bewitched”. Crazy, huh? Nolan “might” be proud?
Stardust (2007) – the film was actually very decent. Hella entertaining that’s for sure. Could it be the good writing? Or was in Robert De Niro dancing in his knickers…I mean FEMALE knickers? Both actually. But Michelle Pfeiffer tops them all. Playing the witch Lamia, who wants to stay young and beautiful forever (they all kinda wanna do that), she wasn’t only scary but she was absolutely funny. Pfeiffer knocked it out of the park with this one. This gives me hope that in the near future, they would still produce a string of witch movies that aren’t only fun to watch but are cinematic treasures. “Stardust” isn’t exactly a treasure, but then casting Pfeiffer and letting her live out such a strong performance in a mildly mediocre film is a step closer. My last wish that some great director would be interested in the subject matter of what witches are, and totally revamp the genre. I’ll wait for that day to come. PS: Paging all casting directors! Don’t forget MICHELLE PFEIFFER.