Yesterday, I went for a walk down by the river and had to stop for a minute and take in my surroundings. I could smell the first autumn fires being lit in the nearby houses, the air was crisper than usual and dusk was approaching a little earlier. Today is the 1st of October and for us Halloween fanatics this sparks a childlike sense of excitement and an excuse to watch a shit-tonne of horror movies. I’m hoping to get a few horror-themed posts out over the next couple of weeks including a couple of movie reviews. To begin, since it’s now the season of the witch, I’ve written a post on my favourite movies about witches. Now, if I’m being honest, some of these movies are really cheesy but I think they deserve a mention nonetheless.
When a young American ballet dancer moves to Germany to attend a dance school, she is soon entangled in the horrific practices of an evil coven. Admittedly this is the only film I’ve ever seen by Dario Argento but it’s one of my favourite occult horrors. Suspiria was hugely influential, it set the tone in regard to those vibrant pinks, blues and purples we see in so many retro style horrors. The film’s imagery, stylisation and the creative use of camera angles make it a visually stunning masterpiece. I’m hoping to watch Inferno soon, another Argento film about witches, released a few years after Suspiria.
The Witch: A New-England Folk Tale (2015)
A family is banished from their Puritan plantation over a disagreement regarding religious matters. The family build a small farm beside the woods. After one of their children is abducted and killed it seems the family is being tormented by something evil lurking in the woods. It soon becomes clear that a witch is responsible for the distressing events. I love this movie so much, it’s perfectly eerie, the atmosphere and use of imagery are unnerving. Instead of relying on cheap scares, The Witch is deeply unsettling. To top it off, it’s also a great story with a fantastic ending.
The Witches of Eastwick (1987)
In this classic dark comedy, three bored, single small town friends meet up to drink and discuss their romantic woes. Unbeknownst to them, they are witches and have unintentionally formed a coven. A mysterious stranger, who just happens to be Satan himself arrives in town to stir things up for the trio. Although he helps the women to realise their true abilities, he can’t be trusted. I love this movie, the absurdly big hair is hilarious in itself while the casting was perfect; Cher, Susan Sarandon, Michelle Pfeiffer and the ever-menacing Jack Nicholson as Daryl Van Horne aka Satan.
The Craft (1996)
The Craft is a movie that has a place in the hearts of many 90s kids. It’s a campy but savage play on the teen witch narrative. When Sarah enrolls in a new Catholic school following her attempted suicide, she doesn’t quite fit in. When one of her fellow students, a witch named Nancy, witnesses Sarah’s telekinetic abilities, Nancy’s coven takes her in. They believe her to be the “fourth corner” that they need to harness their full supernatural potential. Soon, the girls end up in danger at the hands of Nancy who quickly lets the power get to her head.
Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
In Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby, a coven of devil-worshipping witches summon Satan in hopes of impregnating their young neighbor with a demon child. In one of the most terrifying scenes ever, Rosemary is raped by Satan in a satanic ceremony and forced to carry the spawn of the devil. Mia Farrow is great in this movie and Polanski did an excellent job of creating a sinister atmosphere. I believe it to be one of the greatest horrors ever made, it genuinely gave me chills as a teenager and I’m looking forward to watching it again soon.
Death Becomes Her (1992)
When two extremely vain rivals drink a magic potion given to them by a mysterious enchantress, they are promised eternal youth. However, they get more than they bargained for; a fight over their mutual love interest ends with the pair killing each other only to return as reanimated corpses. Meryl Streep, Goldie Hawn and Bruce Willis are hilarious in Death Becomes Her. This movie is one of the most ridiculous films I’ve ever seen. The bizarre award-winning practical effects are outrageously outdated but comical. If you want an idea of just how ridiculous this movie is then you can watch the trailer here.
The Conjuring (2013)
The Conjuring is a spooky throwback to retro horrors of the 1970s; Ed and Lorraine are demonologists, investigating a haunted house and a possessed doll named Annabelle. The pair discovers that an accused witch named Bathsheba once lived in the house. Bathsheba is believed to have sacrificed her newborn baby to the devil before committing suicide, cursing all future residents of the house. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga were a great choice for the movie and there are a few good scares despite the familiar narrative.
The Lords of Salem
Heidi is a recovering drug addict and local DJ who becomes involved with a coven of Satan-worshipping witches after receiving a strange album by a band called The Lords. She is then tormented by visions of demons and other frightening apparitions. Despite having a mere 45% RT rating, The Lords of Salem has its own cult following, much like most of Rob Zombie’s movies. I’ve always enjoyed Zombie’s creepy directorial style. I feel like he created a genuinely chilling atmosphere in The Lords of Salem while addressing real issues such as the isolation Heidi already experiences as a result of her own depression.
The Witches (1990)
The Witches is based on a children’s story by Roald Dahl, I remember having it on VHS as a kid. I’m pretty sure that it’s one of the only children’s movies that would still terrify me even now. Seeing the witches in their hideous true form was traumatising, the practical effects were extremely graphic for a children’s movie. The witches are a bunch of ugly, evil bitches who want to turn children into mice. Angelica Housten is scary even before she is unmasked. If you’d like to be reminded of just how horrible this movie was, click here to watch the scene in which the witches reveal their true identity, much to the horror of poor little Luke and his chubby friend Bruno.
The House of the Devil (2009)
When a babysitter is lured to an old house in the middle of nowhere, she is soon fighting for her life against supernatural forces. I already mentioned Ti West’s House of the Devil in a previous post; Retro Horror Revisited, so I won’t go into too much detail, I would recommend it for fans of suspense horrors.
Hocus Pocus (1993)
Critically Hocus Pocus was not very well received, however, it has become a Halloween staple for lots of 90s kids. For some of us, Hocus Pocus is crucial Halloween viewing. Yes, it’s an extremely silly movie but if you don’t take it too seriously, it’s pretty funny. Bette Middler’s as Winifred always cracks me up as well as the scene where Kathy Najimy is forced to fly on the hoover.
The Love Witch (2016)
The Love Witch is another one that I previously mentioned, so once again I’ll link my Retro Horror Revisited post if you’d like to know more about this spellbinding movie.
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
I’m sure everyone has seen The Wizard of Oz by now. Whether you watched it on TV as a child or while listening to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and getting high. It’s an amazing movie, shockingly well produced considering the time of its production. I was always rooting for the Wicked Witch of the West, she really just wanted revenge for the death of her sister after all. And honestly, who was Glinda to give away the ruby slippers anyway.
It feels strange to me that any Lars Von Trier movie would end up on the same list as Hocus Pocus, yet here it is. After the death of their son in horrific circumstances, a nameless couple chooses to stay in a cabin in the woods as a form of therapy for the wife. The man discovers the wife might have some ties to witchcraft and soon shit gets real weird, real fast. Von Trier is known for producing experimental films which are at times nonsensical and fucked up (Melancholia and Nymphomaniac). Antichrist is no different. This film is not for the faint-hearted as there is some pretty disturbing imagery throughout.
If you’d like to check out my Witchcraft Pinterest Board, click here. or if you have any thoughts on this post don’t be afraid to leave me a comment below. Thanks for reading!