Witches on film, from the cute to the horrific
American children often get their first — and most memorable — glimpse at a movie witch while watching 1939’s “Wizard of Oz,” in which Margaret Hamilton portrays one of the great screen villains of all time. Through the years, witches have appeared in dozens of films in different forms — scary, sexy and funny among them. Planning a night of witchy TV for Halloween? Here are some of our favorites:
“ROSEMARY’S BABY” (1968) — Mia Farrow stars in Roman Polanski’s psychological horror classic as a New York apartment dweller who is convinced that her quirky neighbors are witches who want her unborn child. (Ruth Gordon won an Oscar playing one of those neighbors.)
“SUSPIRIA” (1977) — Jessica Harper plays an American girl who relocates to Germany to attend a famed ballet school, only to find herself in the midst of a murderous cult. Directed by Dario Argento, it co-stars Joan Bennett in her final film role.
“THE WITCHES OF EASTWICK” (1987) — Devilish Jack Nicholson arrives in a small town in Rhode Island and has his hands full with a trio of three very modern (and powerful) women played by Cher, Susan Sarandon and Michelle Pfeiffer. Fun, dark comedy that casts its own special spell thanks to its A-list cast.
“HAXAN” (1922) — Originally made as a documentary on witchcraft, this spooky silent film, which contains dramatized events, was rereleased in the 1960s with a narration by William S. Burroughs. Creepy and hypnotic.
“BELL, BOOK AND CANDLE” (1958) — Can a nice normal guy (James Stewart) find happiness with his sexy, bohemian neighbor? Yes, when that neighbor is the spellbinding Kim Novak. A romantic comedy that is a lot of fun, helped along by a great supporting cast that includes Elsa Lanchester, Jack Lemmon, Ernie Kovacs and Hermoine Gingold.
“I MARRIED A WITCH” (1942) — A lovely witch played by Veronica Lake avoids being burned at the stake in the 17th century and comes back, 250 years later, to take revenge on the descendent of her accuser (Frederic March). A delicious romantic comedy, with a screenplay by Renè Clair and Dalton Trumbo.
“THE CRAFT” (1996) — Transfer student comes to a high school in Los Angeles, only to discover that a handful of her classmates are taking part in some witchy rituals that eventually get out of hand. A favorite of teens, it stars Neve Campbell, Fairuza Balk and Robin Tunney.
“THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT” (1999) — Fictional tale of film students who confront grisly forces in the woods of a small American town. “Found video footage” tells the story of the students and the witch/murderer they want to make a movie about. The original film was made for about $60,000 with another $500,000 raised later to reshoot certain scenes. It grossed about $250 million.
“HOCUS POCUS” (1993) — Millennials will always have a soft place in their hearts for these witches (Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy), who are hung during the Salem witch trials and resurrected 300 years later. Fun for kids, the movie combines all the usual horror movie gimmicks, but seasons them with farce. (Look for it on the Disney Channel.)
“THE WITCHES” (1990) — Stylish fantasy-horror film that pits some resourceful kids (and their grandmother) against an entire convention of witches, led by the sublime Anjelica Huston. Great for kids and even better for adults, it’s the only movie on this list to get a perfect 100 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes.