Double Take: The Witches

“You are DOOMED old woman. You are DOOMED FOREVER!”

What can I say about the movie The Witches that you don’t already know or feel about it. This is one of those movies that you have either never seen/heard of before or you have and the film was apart of your childhood. I don’t recall anyone saying this film was bad. This movie, even though I haven’t watched it since I was a kid, is a fun and wonderful adaptation from the book I would watch all the time along with Labyrinth. It was sort of my double creature feature when I was young. This film along with another good called The Worst Witch started my love of witches in film. 

For those who have never seen this movie, watch the trailer in all it’s 90’s glory and read my opinion on the film after watching it over two to three decades later. 

So I am reminded of these movies back in the day from the 80’s and 90’s while I was watching the movie. These movies that are rated PG got away with a lot that would NEVER fly with today’s children and rating system. For example, Labyrinth (Bowie and his bulge), Return to OZ (scary as hell with The Wheelers and dismemberment throughout the whole film) JAWS, lets not forget that one. I was reminded that this is one of those movies that are for kids but had moments that could traumatized them while they are young. This film didn’t scare me as a kid and I just thought it was cool that mouse were talking.

From the start you are told a narrative story of a witch’s encounter with a child and what can happen when you run into one. The sad story of a parent whose daughter goes missing only to find out that she has been right in front of them this whole time. It could give you a chill just watching it play out. As a kid, I couldn’t tell the impact the story was, it was just cool to see this witch use her powers. As an adult, I got a glimpse at how F’d up to watch this little girl get kidnapped the way she did. In addition you have a little boy who will deals with death, sorrow, and a coven of witches after him. Doesn’t sound like a happy kids movie does it? That is what makes this film work. A mix of puppets, animatronics, child-like imagination, and suspenseful danger brings this movie to life. 

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Anjelica Huston as Miss Eva Ernst/Grand High Witch.

The big cherry on top is Anjelica Huston who is most known for playing Morticia Addams from The Addams Family, plays Miss Eva Ernst also known as the Grand High Witch. The meanest witch of them all. Couldn’t have cast it better myself. Huston’s performance shines with her scary and domineering voice, her evil glares and stars, and that diva attitude. I also noticed that the kid in the center of it all, Jasen Fisher was the same kid from other films like Hook and Parenthood. I never put that together. Rowan Atkinson(Mr. Bean, Lion King) is not his happy self in this one. Playing the grumpy manager of the hotel 90% of the movie takes place at, this is the least I have seen him so happy and smiling. Let’s also mention how amazing that makeup job was. I didn’t remember the mouse moving around and talking was so lifelike. When you get a look at the witches true look you will be very impressed. Stephen Norrington MVP on the make up on the Grand High Witch. 

This movie still stands after 17 years. I do think the movie wouldn’t do anyone justice watching it for the first time now unless it is to bask in the excellence of Anjelica Huston. The story is pretty simple but for a children’s story this was pretty creepy. Based on the book by Roald Dahl, you got the sugar coated version with this one. I had a good time going down memory lane and kept my attention throughout. I was reminded why I like witches in general. What did you all think of this film as a child? Were they good or bad memories?

3 1/2 out of 5

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