7. The Witches of Eastwick (1987)
The cast of The Witches of Eastwick is a veritable Hollywood Dream Team. Michelle Pfeiffer, Susan Sarandon, and Cher play three best friends who are unaware they've formed a witch coven – that is until the literal devil, played by Jack Nicholson in another genius casting feat, turns up. As the Devil's influence on the trio grows more obvious, the women realize the power they hold.
The Witches of Eastwick feels oddly modern, akin to a gaggle of 2018 girls made an art film about polyamory and the power of the coven. No wonder, then, that the movie remains one of the best witch movies you can watch today.
6. The Love Witch (2016)
An homage to '60s Technicolor, The Love Witch is a sexy, stylish experience, with the dreamy, woozy visuals and general unease creating a feeling of being drugged. The Love Witch introduces us to Elaine, a young witch who uses witchcraft to find (and keep) a man after her husband is suspiciously murdered. Elaine is played with unhinged mania by Samantha Robinson, whose face the camera lingers on for uncomfortable amounts of time, daring you to decide whether you love or fear her.
Elaine is the unnatural progression of a woman at odds with the patriarchy – beautiful and whip-smart, she feels she must reduce her worth in order to maintain a relationship. When that fails, she brews love potions out of fingernails and menstrual blood. She's a monster of society's making, and one of the best witches to ever grace the screen.
5. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
An icon of cinema, the Wicked Witch of the West was something of a horror role for actor Margaret Hamilton, who faced serious ordeals playing the character. Not only did she receive serious burns due to a fireworks incident on set, but the green face and body makeup was full of toxic chemicals. With that in mind, Hamilton’s performance is all the more mesmerising. She's positively dripping with hatred for Dorothy who did, in all fairness, kill her sister, the Wicked Witch of the East, with a house.
Add in Glinda the Good Witch as a glittering (and borderline condescending) juxtaposition to the Wicked Witch, and you've got a beautiful tale of light and dark magic struggling to gain influence – one that remains one of the most influential movies of all time.
4. Suspiria (1977)
Suspiria introduces us to Suzy, an American dancer who studies ballet at a prestigious German academy. The gruesome deaths of the academy’s dancers hints at the institution's more sinister end game, and Suzy slowly uncovers the witch coven at its center. The arresting plot is further enhanced by blinding visuals and enveloping music that were obsessed over by Italian filmmaker Dario Argento.
Argento went to great lengths to imbue every scene with vibrant color that mimicked animated fairy tales like Snow White. He also blasted the film's soundtrack (performed by Italian prog-rock band Goblin) through loudspeakers on set to induce a specific mood. The filmmaker's dedication to aesthetics translates exceptionally well, making Suspiria a witch movie unlike any other: intensely colorful and deliciously gory, an assault on your senses and your soul.
3. Hocus Pocus (1993)
To live forever, witches must harvest young people – a gruesome concept that Hocus Pocus plays with. Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy play the conniving, bickering Sanderson sisters, 300-year-old witches looking to capture some youths to remain young and, erm, beautiful. They've spent hundreds of years trapped in the afterlife before being inadvertently unleashed by the new-in-town virgin on All Hallow's Eve, and they're looking to return to the glory of their younger years.
The Sanderson sisters are the beating black heart of the film – Midler’s overconfidence and buck teeth, Parker’s aloof sex appeal on two left feet, Najimy’s over-the-top goofiness. Hocus Pocus is campy and sickly sweet. There's even a magical musical number which you won’t be able to get out of your head.
2. The Craft (1996)
Imagine if the punk chick who puts safety pins through her piercings at the lunch table is harnessing the power of the creator of the universe…. Enter Nancy Downs, The Craft's antagonist, and your worst nightmare. Fairuza Balk was born for the role, her face molded for it: freaky blue eyes that bulge and dart around wildly, an untameable mop of black hair that never looks the same way twice, full, blood-red lips hiding a mouth full of gleaming white teeth she frequently reveals while cackling maniacally.
The Craft is the perfect pastiche of John Hughes coming-of-age flicks and black comedies. It's a rite of passage for every young woman, and somehow feels fresher than today's teen films. Every good witch watches The Craft. Every bad witch wants to be Nancy Downs.
1. The VVitch (2015)
Ah, witch cinema's supreme. The VVitch is set in a time that is inherently frightening: the woods of a 17th century New England in the throes of religious fanaticism. A father is banished from a Puritan colony thanks to his pride, and takes his family to live on the outskirts of a secluded forest. They are quickly targeted by a witch who lives deep within – she picks apart the sinful family (the father is a thief, the mother is greedy, the brother lusts after his own sister, the younger twins are just awful human beings).
Imagine if witches do exist, and they kill and eat unbaptized newborns to supplement their powers and convene with the Devil to tempt innocent women into their coven. It's a truly terrifying and deeply disturbing film that gives us the witch in her most powerful form – the kind of film that haunts you long after the credits roll.
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