We all have seen them in some shape or form. Witches. A very casual theme around Halloween. Ugly women with green skin, maybe more ugly who want to gobble up all the kiddies. The fairy tales fill our childhood with mystery and fear, and as we get older they become something else entirely…..
Witch movies….What the fuck!?
Now before I elaborate, I want to say that I’ am not talking about Witch television shows. For example, Charmed, Sabrina, Salem, and not even Buffy The Vampire Slayer. (Love this show) All feature witches, but do you know why I am not going to talk about them? Well, they all are fucking wrong. Sexy witches! Tons of them, or at least on a Plain Jane level. Now, I love Dark Willow as much as the next Buffy fan that wants to bone her. (More of a Cordy and Faith kind of guy) Plus, she was one of the few things that was great about season 6.
Fuck these guys
I am only going to rant about movies because they all come with the possibility to scare us. They are meant to scare us….yet they cannot…..allow me to explain. Witches and Hags were very common in early folklore. The Grimm fairy tales are good examples. (Not that fucking show) A lot of our early folklore, urban legends, and all kinds of cultures tell us about hideous women who pledge to Satan, praise him by fire, eat children, sacrifice them to the devil, play with the dark arts etc. The hysteria it would bring to villages was horrifying that lead to more than one murder. American history has its own Salem witch trials to show for it. Now, allow me to explain why I hate the movies……
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
We all know this movie. A loved and cherished classic by many. A popular book series with a few movies. (Returned to Oz is better) The first one gave us this witch.
As a kid I was terrified of her. The green skin, her voice and cackle. (I love a good witch cackle) I would always think she would fly down on her broomstick and eat me. She was a good witch.I am not alone when I said I was scared of her. Many people suffered her as well. However, she would become the mascot for how witches should look. Green skin, ugly, maybe a crooked nose, warts, wears a big pointy hat, her crystal ball, and broomstick. Some of this is right and some of this is wrong, but it ruined witches for years to come. That look is used in pop culture. Too many examples to explain, (I will say Banjo Kazooie) but I fear this is what took the seriousness out of the Witch. Plus, we all know Glinda The Good Witch is the true villain of that movie. I’m serious, look it up! Now that I got this out of the way….its time to get to the bad examples…..
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
I remember when this came out and how the whole world said it was the scariest movie! As a kid I was so excited to see it. We rented it from Blockbuster (R.I.P.) and couldn’t wait to see this Blair Witch……so there were some stick bound together, some yells, some bloody pieces, and an old house. No witch! No Bloody witch! It’s called the Blair Witch Project, so don’t you think there should have been a witch at any given time. The best part of the movie is when they interview people and you hear all the legends. The rest is a bunch of paranoid people running around the woods and crying into a camera!
I will give it credit for the scary atmosphere it created. It gave the sense of something looking in the dark….however I really think this film had so much more potential and it failed to live up to its own hype. They used the internet to make fake web articles, and the purpose was to make people believe that there kids really went missing and their “found footage” was real. Back then it was easier to make fake articles without a thousand people figuring out the truth in 10 minutes. Highly debatable for awhile before the truth came out, but that marketing scheme drove people into the theaters and all the film does is a bit of a let down. Why not show the silhouette of a woman standing in the background watching them? Maybe a terrifying cackle coming from the woods? Perhaps we get a glimpse of a hideous old hag when they discover the house, her face quickly vanishing from the window? The opportunities to make this movie better with an extra 20 minutes could have sold me and could have made a scarier movie. It was loved when it first came out, but has a fair share of hatred years later. Did it help pave the way for the Found Footage films that appeared in recent years? Yes. Is it the best? No. Honestly Cannibal Holocaust is the best. (It started the genre) Most of all it was false advertising for a Witch that does not appear at all in the entire movie.
I wonder if True Detective got the idea of a bundle of sticks from this movie……
Lords of Salem (2012)
Well, I got what I wished for. Fucking Witches. Did it come from a good movie? No. Once again another movie that had potential and failed. Failed miserably. A disc jockey gets a record called Lords of Salem and starts her on this spiral down hill about a coven of witches and they want her etc. The film isn’t scary, but the film does deliver on witches, praying to the devil around a fire, but where director Rob Zombie fails is what hurts the movie. He gets these creative ideas that are suppose to make up and or explain events through weird mystical scenes. Think the White Horse thing from his Halloween 2 remake. In this they have this whole vacant apartment scene that was so weird and out of place it took my interest out of the movie. If it was suppose to be a dark meaning I sure as hell didn’t get it. Is it about witches and the devil? Sure, I got that part, but the movie was a mess with a predictable ending. I feel the witches were too much, and so much that they stray from the source material and begin to create their own. Rob Zombie’s only good film is The Devil’s Rejects (2005) and that’s because he does a smart and creative straight to point brutal film.
There is one good part that I felt Zombie should have exploited. In one scene Sheri Moon is walking through her apartment and in the background standing on her kitchen counter is a naked, nasty, old hag of a witch. It made my skin crawl and I was excited if he was going to do these little things throughout the film. Nope, he dives in as fast as he could and leaves nothing for build up or for our imaginations to make. At the end if this I will say that this movie was confusing, but predictable, and it was probably only 5 minutes and a lower budget away from being some snuff grindhouse film from the 70s.
Hey, at least I got some fucking witches!
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013)
No! That is all.
The Witch (2015)
Finally! A witch movie about witches! Witchcraft! Paranoia! folklore! Even some god damned Puritans! It literally had everything I wanted, everything I have been bitching about. Apparently the director also had a fascination with witches and wanted to make a really good film. The film deals with a Puritan family being haunted by witches or just a single witch and a lot of the horrors come from the family turning on each other. The film showed hideous hags, a child sacrifice, a boy being seduced, a torn apart terrified family, possessed animals, a crow scene that was chilling, and even a witch cackle. (It was more of a laugh, but terrifying.) The film was well directed, acted, filmed, and even gives you some while leaving the rest to the imagination.
However, There’s one huge problem with it. The target audience didn’t like it. In recent years we have had a few indie horror films make a splash. (Babadook, It follows etc) They are well directed, and original movies, with terrifying scares that leaves their target audience baffled. This movie didn’t do that.
Now all films can be classified by three differnt types of moviegoers. 1. Critics, 2. Movie lovers, 3. Target audience. Critics give awards and praise to a film, movie lovers just enjoy all types of movies and don’t make a big deal about them other than just something they can enjoy, and the target audience makes your money. Those are your horror lovers….and they all seemed to find this movie boring…..Now I consider myself being a part of all three of these categories so when I finished watching The Witch I felt conflicted. The actual witch stuff was great, a beautifully directed film, but as a horror film it just kind of sucked. A lot of confusing conversations about evil and only one really scary part. (The crow scene) I understand anyone’s disappointment in the film and I could easily see it fall into the cracks of a forgotten movie.
Each movie missed out on making a perfect witch film. I feel that Hollywood has never understood the formula.
The Wizard of Oz (A classic, but started the stereotype)
The Blair Witch Project (Great idea, but doesn’t have any witches)
Lords of Salem (Potential with the idea, but poorly made film)
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (The fuck is this?)
The Witch (Great movie, bad horror film)
Now maybe I am being a bitch and need to shut the hell up (If I could) and maybe some of you actually enjoyed some of these films. I have a bit of a biased opinion and I have only seen a select few films. If you know of any foreign films that are really good I would love to hear about them, or just any I flat forgot about, please tell me. I also think that if you enjoy witches of any sort then you should check out these films. You might enjoy them! I kinda did…..and remember Witches be Bitches!
Side Note: Horror Hotel or City of the Dead (1960) Its pretty good old Christopher Lee movie about a town full of witches. It’s not very accurate at all but it is a good black & white horror flick that is mostly forgotten.