The Witches (1990) This Week’s Hot Pick Flick
The Witches is a 1990 fantasy horror film about witches who pretend to be ordinary women and then kill children. Critically acclaimed but considered a box office disappointment, it is this Week’s Hot Pick Flick.
Halloween is right around the corner and that means that it’s the perfect time for a scary movie. Today’s recommendation was the terror of my childhood and maybe one of the reasons I love horror movies so much to this day. Even after all these years, there’s still something very creepy about this movie and it’s lots of fun too.
Based on the book of the same name by Roald Dahl, The Witches is about a young boy named Luke (Jasen Fisher) who goes to the countryside with his ailing grandmother (Mai Zetterling) who was just diagnosed as diabetic and needs a trip to regain her strength. The grandmother had previously told the boy all about witches and how to spot one before they would have a chance to take him away and he was never seen again. When they venture to the countryside they happen upon a witches convention at the hotel they are staying at and the boy overhears the witches’ plan to turn all the children in England into mice. When the witches discover that Luke heard their plan, they turn him into a mouse. He escapes and is determined to stop the witches before they can do the same to any other children.
The premise of this movie is so whimsical and although it is marketed as a children’s movie, it is really quite scary, especially when I first watched it as a kid. This might be the kind of movie that is best to have watched when you’re young and then re-watch and reminisce about when you’re older but you should still give it a watch if you haven’t seen it before. Director Nicholas Roeg brings this dark tale to life with imagination and wit and it should be enjoyed by people of all ages.
Anjelica Huston shines in this movies as the Grand High Witch. You can really tell that she completely revels in this unabashedly evil character and she takes it on without holding anything back. Rowan Atkinson plays an unexpected role as the hotel manager, Mr. Stringer, who brings another layer of humour to the film. All the actors are well cast and it’s clear that they all enjoyed being a part of this production.
Another great aspect of The Witches is that it’s produced by The Jim Henson Company and as such, the special effects makeup is incredible. The witches look like normal woman at first, but when they remove their wigs, face masks and gloves, they are quite hideous underneath. When they have their convention and they all reveal their true appearance, it’s so much fun to watch (though, as a child it was terrifying!). There are so many talented people that worked on this film and it comes through in all the attention to detail and the painstaking efforts of the artists involved to make Dahl’s characters come to life.
Overall, this incredibly creepy children’s movie is incredibly fun for adults too. There are some really exceptional characters and equally talented actors portraying them. The special effects makeup is as beautiful in it’s grotesquerie and as eye-catching as only The Jim Henson Company can make it, which perfectly brings to life Dahl’s work. This is a perfect Halloween movie to add to your list of movies to watch.
The Witches (1990)
Director: Nicolas Roeg
Writers: Roald Dahl (book), Allan Scott (screenplay)
Stars: Anjelica Huston, Mai Zetterling, Jasen Fisher
Genre: Horror, Fantasy