This is a shortlist of films that have a variety of depictions of witch characters on screen. They range in different types of characterizations of the witch film persona. Some of these films take on a feminist role in the depiction of women on screen. And some are the generic horror film characters of an old villainous woman who cackles at her younger heroic counterpart. A lot of these films are modern-day classics, some of which have a cult following. These are a collection of comedies, drama, romantic comedies and horror. A lot of them have depictions of witchcraft, Paganism and Wiccan cultures.
The Love Witch (2016)
A retro movie about the 70s sexploitation films witchcraft. A lovelorn witch seeks out a husband that suits her old-fashioned ideals. The story explores how women change for men to have a relationship and the ideals of the perfect mate might be deadly. The film is filled with seductive imagery by the lead character luring in potential mates and a lot of killing. The film’s style is a 1970s late-night grindhouse horror complete with nostalgic cheese. It is charming and well written with modern feminist declarations.
The Witches of Eastwick (1987)
An 80s movie about three women wishing for the perfect man to enter their neighbourhood, woe them over and take care of them. But the man that enters their lives is a mysterious man named Darryl who invokes powers in them. But the longer they are with him they find their inner power and strength that he did not give them. This is a funny film with a lot of depictions of witchcraft and feminist topics.
Practical Magic (1995)
A New Englander seaside town has a family of witches cursed to have every lover die and live alone forever. Two sisters, Sally the responsible widow mother brunette and Gillian the wild child free spirit redhead, meet up years after Gillian runs away from her abusive vicious stalker ex-boyfriend. They accidentally kill him only to bring him back to life by a badly broken spell after years of never really practicing magic. Meanwhile, his disappearance is investigated by a detective who gains romantic affection for the widow. After two decades of the film in theatres, it still has whimsy and some plot holes in the investigating the murder part of the film. The film is a romantic comedy with some coven magic scenes.
The Witch (2015)
A psychological horror period piece of a banished New England Puritan family moving deep into a forest over a religious dispute only to encounter evil. The eldest daughter becomes the scapegoat of fears of the unknown, illnesses and odd happenings. It is partly a coming-of-age story, mystery and a film heavily influenced by Puritan fears of the occult and witches. Fun facts about this film would that the goat was the true nightmare on set because it was a goat and they are ill-tempered when annoyed. And that the film was filmed in Ontario, Canada.
The Craft (1996)
A new girl is outcasted by her new high school by a popular misogynistic jock. Three other outcasted students approach the new girl to join their coven. They increasingly gain metaphysical magick powers they start to use to gain a positive traction in their lives. Soon after the wishes, they ask for a turn against them. This film has a great 90’s soundtrack with a lot of Pagan references. It’s a teen thriller that makes karma and teen girl angst the true horror.
I am not a witch (2017)
A young Zambian girl named Shula lives in a village without parents where the head of state places her into a camp of travelling witches. A camp where imprisoned women become tourist attractions used to locate criminals. If Shula can cut the white ribbon, she can escape. But if she fails and crosses the witches, Shula can be turned into a goat. This film was inspired by real witchcraft accusation stories from Zambia. The writer and director of the film, Rungano Nyoni, travelled to Ghana and spent time in a real witch camp observing their daily life and rituals for research for her film.
Hocus Pocus (1994)
The three Sanderson sisters get hanged for practicing witchcraft, the disappearance of a local boy Binx they turned into a cat and several children. They cursed the day of Halloween and a black candle that if a virgin lights the candle, it will bring them back for one night unless they can live forever. Then flash forward into the 90s, a teen, who just moved from LA to Massachusetts, goes to a tourist trap that was once the Sanderson sisters home with his crush and his little sister still trick-or-treating. He lights the candle as a “what’s the worst that could happen” scenario to have the sisters come home. This movie didn’t do well in theatres because it suffered from another curse, the July box-office opening for a movie unrelated to Halloween.
An action-adventure film about a young man, Tristan, who lives in a fairy tale land of Wall in Great Britain, enters a magical world to collect fallen stars in a field as a dowery for his beloved. But the star transforms into a woman. She is being hunted for her magical powers by various people of the land. Three witches want to eat her heart to replenish their powers and to regain their youth. And by the three princes of Stormhold to gain rule of their land from their dying king father. The film is more fairy tale than a Wiccan representation. It’s a fun fantasy film with narration and one of Peter O’Toole’s last film roles.
Häxan: Witchcraft Throughout The Ages (1922)
This film is a silent movie I learned about from an October movie marathon years ago. The film is a horror essay about the historical roots and superstitions surrounding witchcraft, from the Middle Ages to the 20th century. It was written and directed by Benjamin Christensen. It was very influential in horror in the early years of filmmaking while having a documentary-style direction with narration and dramatized storytelling. The film glances over the true horrors from history like the witch hunts, the misunderstandings of mental illness, and mass hysteria. It was not only the most expensive Swedish silent horror film spending two million kronor in the 1920s capital but banned from viewing because of the depictions of dramatized torture, nudity, sex, anti-Church tone and frequent depictions of Satan throughout the film. The film is regarded for its special effects, makeup, story, and being a quasi-feminist film. According to Academic Chloé Germaine Buckley, the film shows “the way that the oppression of women takes on different guises in different historical periods.”
The Witches (1990)
Based on the book by Ronald Dahl, a young Norwegian boy stumbles onto a group of witch’s convention at a hotel with his grandmother. She warns her grandson about witches and female demons who hate children. He tries to stop the coven convention with the head witch mistress’ plot to rid the world of all children but is turned into a mouse by the witches. The film has some great practical effects makeup and acting from Anjelica Huston as the head witch mistress.
I Married A Witch (1942)
The film starts with two witches from Puritan colonial Salem, Jennifer and her father Daniel, who are burned at the stake with the accusation of witchcraft. Jennifer curses the Wooley family and their descendants to marry the “wrong woman,” a cruel, shrewish woman. Their ashes were buried in a tree to trap the evil spirits until a lightning bolt hits the tree 100 years later splitting it in two freeing them. The spirits manifest in the Pilgrim Hotel where a fire starts and the romantic comedy part of the film beginnings. It’s a really funny film and the dated ideas of a relationship from Jennifer being from a different period of time are understandable to the plot. The witchcraft part is all cauldrons and acted out superstitions by Veronica Lake.
An upper-middle-class Utah family has two teens, Peter, a 16-year-old average student, and Charlie, a 13-year-old outcast. They both attend a party where Charlie gets a nut allergy attack, and from unfortunate events after the party, she dies. The family is distraught over her death, the dynamic of the family changes and spooky things start to happen around the family. The film is spooky. The film is known for being heavily hyped for terror when it is average. The witchcraft and Pagan references in the horror film are present.
The soundtrack alone would make you watch this film. A prestigious German boarding house of ballet dancers welcomes an American student for the new semester. Spooky happenings and techno colour lighting happen with bugs falling from the ceiling, shadowy people appearing with students disappearing. It’s the first film of the “Three Mothers Trilogy” that Dario Argento directed. The film comes highly recommended.