HALLOWEEN EDITION: Top Spooky Witchy Movies to Watch This Halloween That Will Put a Spell on you! :


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Burn some sage, grab a goblet of wine, and settle in for a bewitching binge sesh with the best witch movies”

If you’re a horror-movie aficionado, you’ve seen more vampires, werewolves, zombies, and serial killers than you could shake a stick, stake, silver bullet, or arrest warrant at. Isn’t it high time that the witches of cinema also get the acclaim they deserve? A great witch movie is inherently compelling because it’s driven by a person — a woman, usually — who refuses the way to behave that society demands. What makes witch movies so fascinating as a collection, though, is their wide variety of tones and messages. Whether you’re into the fun-for-all-ages allure of Hocus Pocus or the blood-spewing charms of Black Sunday, somewhere out there is a pointy hat and broomstick that’ll fit you just right.

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TOP SPOOKY MOVIES OF ALL TIMES:

Bell, Book and Candle (1958):

In this Kim Novak–Jimmy Stewart rom-com (basically the opposite of Vertigo, which came out six months earlier), a Manhattanite witch puts a love spell on her neighbour so he won’t marry her insufferable college nemesis. But the plan backfires spectacularly when she winds up falling head over broomstick for the guy — even though witches who fall in love lose their powers. Along with 1942’s Veronica Lake–starring I Married a Witch, Bell, Book and Candle helped inspired the TV series Bewitched. It’s worth watching for Jack Lemmon’s performance as a bongo-playing warlock alone.

Black Sunday (1960):

Widely censored after its release — and outright banned in the United Kingdom — Mario Bava’s influential masterpiece is rendered in stark yet stunning black and white. A long-ago executed witch rises from the dead, hell-bent on revenge, is a visual feast of castles and coffins and gore. Even today, the imagery is arresting, if not downright stomach-turning. This isn’t a movie for the squeamish: In the opening sequence, a spiked mask is hammered onto star Barbara Steele’s head, and later,  scorpions crawl out of her grotesque, semi-preserved face.

The Blair Witch Project (1999):

The foremother of the found-footage genre follows three filmmakers lost in the Black Hills Forest, seeking out the strange old woman who’s rumoured to haunt the woods. Let’s just say it doesn’t end well for them. Blair Witch was a global phenomenon, with a viral marketing campaign that suggested the actors were missing and presumed dead. But for all its parodies and pop-culture overexposure, the movie is still scary as hell. That said, you’d be well advised to skip the sequels, and the poor townspeople of Burkittsville, Maryland would strongly prefer if you left them alone.

The Craft (1996):

Do your favourite tenth-grader a solid and slip her a copy of The Craft while she works on her umpteenth essay about The Crucible. This ’90s horror flick about a coven of high-school outcasts holds up quite well, as does its dark brand of girl power. And I do mean dark: not just in terms of “the rites to Manon” performed by the girls, but also the film’s grappling with serious issues like suicide and rape. Robin Tunney is technically the lead character as bland white witch Sarah, and sister sorceresses Neve Campbell and Rachel True are both delightful as Bonnie and Rochelle, but make no mistake, this is Fairuza Balk’s movie. She’s all blue eyes and snarl as the unhinged Nancy, for whose friendship I would gladly drop a small fortune at Hot Topic, even if it’d end with her trying to kill me.

Eve’s Bayou (1997):

This gorgeous southern gothic drama, set in 1960s Louisiana and directed by Kasi Lemmons, is a moody meditation on family, mysticism, and sex. Ten-year-old Eve (Jurnee Smollett) witnesses her womanizing doctor father (Samuel L. Jackson) cheating on her mother. After turning to her fortune-telling aunt for guidance — and following a drunken, hazily understood act of violence — Eve seeks out a local voodoo practitioner (Diahann Carroll) for revenge.

Hocus Pocus (1993):

In recent years, Hocus Pocus has become a cult-classic Halloween mainstay, ruling the airwaves as dominantly as A Christmas Story does in December. There’s a good reason for that: It’s the perfect Halloween movie and a must-watch for aspiring young witches. The Sanderson Sisters — played by Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy — are resurrected 300 years after their deaths to wreak havoc on the unsuspecting trick-or-treaters of Salem, Massachusetts. Also in the mix are a centuries-old talking cat that contains the soul of a boy enchanted by the witches, 11-year-old Thora Birch, a zombie, and an all-time great cover of “I Put a Spell On You.”

Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989):

This Hayao Miyazaki animated feature was one of the very first movies from Studio Ghibli, the beloved Japanese anime powerhouse known for building worlds full of magic, possibility, and wonder that is populated with bold, adventurous children (particularly girls). The kid-friendly film centres on 13-year-old witch Kiki, who leaves home with her “familiar Spirit” black cat and starts a delivery business via her broomstick. Magic powers aside, Kiki’s Delivery Service is a sweet story about a girl on the precipice of adulthood, learning to make her way in the world and rely on herself. Witches: They’re just like us!

The Love Witch (2016):

After a woman flees the investigation into her husband’s suspicious death in San Francisco for the California coast, she takes up residence in an apartment in a gothic mansion decorated to resemble her beloved tarot deck. There, she embarks on a single-minded pursuit of potion-enhanced love and lust, with all the seduction interrupted only by the occasional murder. Auteur Anna Biller — who wrote, directed, and produced The Love Witch, in addition to serving as its editor, production designer, costume designer, and composer — painstakingly crafted this gloriously ’60s-exploitation movie turned feminist satire, heavy on retro glamour and sensuality.

Practical Magic (1998):

Do you ever stop and think about how lucky humankind is that a movie exists in which Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman play eccentric, modern-day sister witches? Well, thank the Goddess for Practical Magic. Widowed mother Sally (Bullock) is reserved but powerful; Gillian (Kidman) is an irresistible free spirit. After killing Gillian’s abusive boyfriend Jimmy — who is also a serial killer because sure, why not? — the women flee to the sleepy Massachusetts town where they grew up. A handsome law enforcement officer (Aidan Quinn) soon shows up on their doorstep, and so does Jimmy’s vengeful spirit. Bonus: Stockard Channing and Dianne Wiest steal scenes as Sally and Gillian’s goofy, blender-enchanting aunts!

Rosemary’s Baby (1968):

Roman Polanski’s adaptation of the novel by Ira Levin is the only film on this list you’ll find in the Criterion Collection, but this horror movie’s fancy pedigree doesn’t make it any less viscerally upsetting. Rosemary’s Baby forever raised the bar for terrible neighbours. With her husband’s cooperation, a coven of Devil-worshipping ghouls occupy an Upper West Side apartment building and conspire to have a young woman Rosemary (Mia Farrow) raped and impregnated by Satan himself. Four out of five obstetricians agree that you should not accept prenatal “vitamin drinks” from the spooky lady down the hall (played by Ruth Gordon, in an Oscar-winning performance), especially if there is a nonzero chance your unborn child could be the Antichrist. Half a century later, the movie’s legacy is more potent than ever: Jordan Peele cited Rosemary’s Baby as a key inspiration for getting Out, and snippets of Rosemary’s dialogue were sampled on SZA’s EPS.

Suspiria (1977):

In Suspiria, an American woman travels to Germany to enrol in a renowned dance academy, only to discover the ballet school is a front for a sinister coven. But the plot hardly matters because this is one of the most singularly beautiful movies you’ll ever see. Better yet, Dario Argento’s luscious Technicolor fever dream is paired with an eq by Goblin. You’ll want to watch this one soon: Call Me by Your Name director Luca Guadagnino filmed an upcoming remake with Tilda Swinton, Chloë Grace Moretz, and Dakota Johnson.

The Witch (2016):

This A24 gem is a slow burn with a heart-stopping ending. Set in 17th-century New England, a family of religious exiles grow suspicious of their teenage daughter after her newborn brother is mysteriously abducted. It’s tough to say which idea in The Witch is more frightening to confront: the evil that lurks in the dark woods or the paranoia and suspicion that seizes the secluded farmstead? If you should come upon a goat named Black Phillip, tell him we say hi.

The Witches (1990):

Based on the Roald Dahl novel of the same name, The Witches is far more disturbing than your average family movie, which is precisely why it’s so great. It suggests to kids that any woman could be a witch — a witch who is plotting your demise at this very moment. A little boy stumbles upon a convention of murderous, child-hating witches who keep their scabby bald heads and gruesome claws (the work of Jim Henson’s Creature Shop) hidden beneath wigs and gloves. Anjelica Huston stars as the Grand High Witch, who speaks in an ambiguously European accent and is, therefore, unambiguously evil.

The Witches of Eastwick (1987):

Three best friends — Michelle Pfeiffer (!), Susan Sarandon (!!), and Cher (!!!) — bond over their fantasies of a dream man, only for him to appear in the form of the mysterious, appealingly sinister Daryl Van Horne (Jack Nicholson). It’s a classic story: Boy meets girl, boy seduces girl, boy meets and seduces the other two girls, the boy is almost certainly the Devil, all three girls finally realize they’ve been witches this entire time. Also, as Racked recently argued, this horror comedy’s aesthetics are extremely on point.

The Wizard of Oz (1939):

An obvious choice, but for good reason. There is no spellcaster on film more iconic than Margaret Hamilton’s Wicked Witch of the West, a role which left her with second-and third-degree burns in a production mishap, and which required her to wear green makeup that contained toxic copper oxide. Even though all that suffering, Hamilton (who, by the way, was nearly two decades younger than Billie Burke, a.k.a. Glinda the Good Witch) made being wicked look like a lot of fun. But we almost didn’t get to enjoy this vision of evil at all: The Wicked Witch of the West is a fairly minor character in the L. Frank Baum books, in which she is broom-less and un-green. Even the film version of the character was intended to be glamorous at first, with actress Gale Sondergaard originally cast as a Snow White’s Evil Queen–style figure, clad in black sequins and fake lashes longer than the Yellow Brick Road. Today, Hamilton’s artfully unappealing weirdo is precisely what we think of when we think of a witch: When children wear a witch costume for Halloween, it’s a reflection of her that they’re imitating. Wicked is great and all, but the Wicked Witch requires no revisionist history to make you want to root for her. “Only bad witches are ugly,” says Glinda — who is a kind of a jerk, honestly — but we submit that good witch witches are as hell.

So What are you waiting for? Spend a spooky time this Halloween! Cast a circle and summon these movies today!!

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