There's arguably nothing more intriguing than a woman who ignores cultural boundaries, wears eccentric clothes, and has magical powers. Witches have bewitched us all for centuries – first through folk tales and, today, in movies. With the changing times, the concept of the witch has changed. Are they misunderstood Dark Arts dabblers or sinister sorceresses? Do they fly on broomsticks or just catch the local bus downtown? As such, each witch-related movie has been wildly different.
With Halloween just around the corner, we’ve gathered together the 15 best witch movies. From the technicolor trials of a young woman desperate to find a man in The Love Witch, to the reign of terror that threatens to tear apart a Puritan family in Robert Eggers' The Witch, there’s a witch for every movie watcher out there. After all, it is the season of the witch, so what better time to cozy up with your black cat and catch one of the best witch movies?
And, if you're looking for more terrifying pictures to behold this Halloween, then check out our best horror movies of all time and best Halloween movies lists. Don't blame us if you cannot sleep tonight...
15. Teen Witch (1989)
Dripping with aerosol cheese and peppered with the occasional hip-hop interlude, this ‘80s cult classic may not be regarded as a cinematic masterpiece, but its unique take on the trials and tribulations of a teenage witch’s life has won over an army of fans. Campy, cute and occasionally like an episode of Degrassi, Teen Witch is charming in its earnestness.
Robyn Lively's Louise (the eponymous teen witch) is relatably geeky and unpopular – that is, until she figures out that she's a witch. Watching her discover that using magic to climb the social ladder isn't cool is a great take on the '80s moral code, wrapping it in a neon occult robe.
14. Practical Magic (1998)
While there’s a lot wrong with this witchy romcom starring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman, there’s still so much that’s so right. The movie follows sisters Sally and Gillian Owens, whose family carries a curse: any man they fall in love with dies an untimely death. Arguably a little cheesy, containing a fair few cliches, and with some pacing issues, Practical Magic sizzles thanks to the chemistry between Bullock and Kidman. They work so well together, it's almost like… magic.
13. Kiki's Delivery Service (1989)
Considering Kiki's Delivery Service comes from Studio Ghibli, it’s no surprise that this coming-of-age flick, about a witch in training who leaves home on her 13th birthday as part of her occult studies, is fantastic. With her black cat Jiji in tow, Kiki’s journey to become a young witch begins with her initially delivering packages via broomstick. However, she soon loses her ability to fly and convene with Jiji, in what turns out to be a nasty case of artist's block (or adolescence, depending on how you look at it).
Kiki's Delivery Service is a beautiful, emotional tale about growing up and growing into yourself. Quite possibly the most endearing aspect of the film is the way in which Kiki's abilities are handled – being a witch is not odd, eerie or sinister: it's merely a part of life.
12. Halloweentown (1998)
If Debbie Reynolds as a grand witch isn't enough to pique your interest then check your pulse. Halloweentown – or, as those with taste call it, “The Best Disney Channel Original Movie Ever Made” – tells the story of 13-year-old Marnie Piper and her grandmother Aggie, who's secretly a witch. Aggie visits every year during All Hallow's Eve, and when she heads home to her mysterious town, Marnie and her siblings secretly hitch a ride. They end up in – you guessed it – Halloweentown, a magical place full of skeletal taxi drivers and goblin boys. Something evil is afoot, and it's up to Marnie, her siblings, and their reluctant mother to tap i save the day.
Very few witchy movies successfully mix palatable scariness and 'aw shucks' moments the way Halloweentown does. Watch this after you've had one too many pumpkin beers and you’ll be swooning over Debbie Reynolds' extensive velvet wardrobe.
11. City of the Dead (1960)
City of the Dead (also known as Horror Hotel) centers on a plucky young student who heads to New England to research her senior paper, under the tutelage of her professor (horror icon Christopher friggin' Lee). Her paper, of course, is on witchcraft in colonial New England, and she quickly finds herself out of her depth.
City of the Dead was actually filmed in the UK, and hearing the actors slip into their native accents makes for fun watching (plus, hearing Lee say anything spin tingling). The movie’s genuinely creepy at times and contains a fantastic plot twist steeped in gorgeous imagery. City of the Dead is the perfect film to curl up with on a brisk October night.
10. Burn, Witch, Burn (1962)
A cautionary tale about marrying an unsupportive partner, Burn, Witch, Burn introduces us to psychology professor Norman Taylor and his wife, Tansy, who is secretly practicing a type of magic she learned in Jamaica. When Norman discovers his wife's witchcraft, he grows furious and demands she destroys all of her talismans, which she insists are the reason why he's been so successful and healthy. After he burns all her belongings, things take a nasty turn.
Trust the witch, Norman, especially if she's trying to prevent you from getting acid reflux after you've had one too many sodas! The script is virtually flawless, the atmosphere is entrancing, and the film pulls you in from the opening scene, daring you to look away.
9. The Witches (1990)
For some reason, The Witches is rated PG, despite featuring some utterly nasty, scary witches who murder children. The '90s were a wild time. Based on the Roald Dahl novel of the same name, The Witches is all about Luke, a young boy who stumbles upon a gaggle of witches disguised as ordinary women. Their leader is none other than the deliciously evil and criminally chic Grand High Witch Eva Ernst, played by Angelica Houston.
The Witches is the last film Jim Henson personally worked on before passing away, so it's a must-see for any Henson Heads. It's also a fantastic, over-the-top performance by Houston, so it's a must-see for any Houston Heads. A film that's probably more enjoyable for adults than children, it's still a gleefully nasty classic that leans into some great witch tropes.
8. Black Sunday (1960)
Also billed as The Mask of Satan and Revenge of the Vampire, Black Sunday is the pinnacle of '60s Italian gothic horror. The movie opens with Asa Vajda being executed by her own brother – a scene that involves a mask covered in spikes being hammered into her face. The movie was banned in the UK and was heavily censored in the US as a result.
Asa (British actor Barbara Steele's breakout role) returns hundreds of years later to haunt her distant relatives, one of whom is also played by Steele. Her old Hollywood beauty contorts into evil with ease, with her wide-set eyes piercing through the screen and into your very soul. The film is a horror masterclass in world-building and mood-setting – a guaranteed creepy movie sesh.