Keep up-to-date on your favourite artists and movies, track gig and release dates, and join in the conversation.
SEARCH RESULTS FOR
Joel interviews the MIFF team to find out what's in this year's program announcement! Click to listen to our special SWITCHCast ep now.x
review, The Witches, The, Witches, film, movie, latest movies, new movie, movie ratings, current movie reviews, latest films, recent movies, current movies, movie critics, new movie reviews, latest movie reviews, latest movies out, the latest movies, review film, latest cinema releases, Australian reviews, cinema, cinema reviews, Anjelica Huston, Mai Zetterling, Jasen Fisher, Rowan Atkinson, Bill Paterson, Jane Horrocks, Brenda Blethyn, Charlie Potter, Anne Lambton, Sukie Smith, Nicolas Roeg, Adventure, Comedy, Family, Fantasy, Horror, Mystery

THE WITCHES

30 YEARS ON, IT'S STILL AS DELIGHTFULLY FRIGHTENING AS EVER

RETROSPECTIVE REVIEW
LATEST REVIEWS
By Chris dos Santos
18th August 2020

Roald Dahl, unlike other authors, has had a pretty decent track record when it comes to his works being adapted for film. Even the Tim Burton adaption of 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory', for all its tone issues, still has memorable characters and a musical soundtrack that honestly slaps. The original Gene Wilder 'Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory' has been filling children with joy for decades (we won't talk about the stage musical, which is easily one of worst Dahl adaptations). In 1996, we saw two Dahl works venture onto the big screen with 'James and the Giant Peach' and 'Matilda' (whose musical absolutely kills), both again doing justice to the books - especially with the latter being up there with the Disney classics as something that all kids of all generations watch. Wes Anderson whimsically adapted 'Fantastic Mr Fox' to universal acclaim, while possibly the worst Dahl cinematic adaption was with 2016's 'The BFG'. But for all of these films, they often tone down his darker elements - the only one that balls-to-the-wall went there, a film that still scares me to this day, is 1990's 'The Witches'.

'THE WITCHES' TRAILER

On vacation with his grandmother, Luke (Jasen Fisher) accidentally stumbles across a witch convention. These witches, lead by the Grand High Witch (Anjelica Huston), spot Luke and turn him into a mouse - and now he has to use his new form to stop them from killing children.

Anjelica Huston was made for this role. In every scene, you can see the fun she is having oozing out of her. She is delightfully menacing, and rivals the likes of Bette Midler in 'Hocus Pocus' as best witch (honestly, can we build up the cult status of 'The Witches' because it deserves a 'Hocus Pocus' level of love).

'The Witches' often appears on scariest kids' movie lists, and for good reason - both seeing a boy turn into a mouse and the reveal of what the witches look like scared me shitless as a kid (and honestly, still now). The makeup work Jim Henson Productions did still holds up, and is scarer than most horror film monsters. The fear the movie gives as a child really sticks with you.

Ironically, even though it was scary for kids around the world, Roald Dahl himself was unhappy that the film went with a happier ending than the book, so director Nicolas Roeg filmed two versions - the one we see in the film and one that stays true to the book, were Luke doesn't turn back into a boy and remains a mouse forever... terrifying. Reports say Dahl was brought to tears when he saw his original ending on film, but Roeg decided against for the final cut, going with a more family friendly ending. This angered Dahl so much that he threated to have his named removed from the film, but Jim Henson sent him a letter apologising and that calmed him down, even though he was still disappointed.

Anjelica Huston was made for this role. In every scene, you can see the fun she is having oozing out of her. She is delightfully menacing, and rivals the likes of Bette Midler in 'Hocus Pocus' as best witch.

While Anjelica Huston was a shoe-in for the role as Dahl's favourite, freaking Cher was considered for the role - that would have been a very different take that I need to see (I'll just have to watch 'The Witches of Eastwick' again for now). During production, Huston was dating Jack Nicholson, and he would send her flowers to the set, which is super adorable.

A remake is on the way with Anne Hathaway in the lead. While not my first choice, she could bring some delightful witchiness to the role, but I don't think she will be as haunting as Huston. They have come out and said the film is closer to book that the 1990 version, not stating if they are using the book's ending, but I'm sure it will be somewhat more sensitised.

Kids love to be scared, and 'The Witches' is the perfect scary children's film; it has everything you could want, and has been a stable in kids' horror for 30 years now.

FAST FACTS
RELEASE DATE: 20/09/1990
RUN TIME: 1h 31m
CAST: Anjelica Huston
Mai Zetterling
Jasen Fisher
Rowan Atkinson
Bill Paterson
Jane Horrocks
Brenda Blethyn
Charlie Potter
Anne Lambton
Sukie Smith
DIRECTOR: Nicolas Roeg
PRODUCER: Mark Shivas
TOP-RATED REVIEWS
Cosmic Sin - A film that delivers on the promise of its title
TRENDINGCOSMIC SINA film that delivers on the promise of its title
Pocahontas - 25 years later, the colours of the wind are fading
TRENDINGPOCAHONTAS25 years later, the colours of the wind are fading
Who the hell is Bloodshot? - A primer on Vin Diesel's superhero
TRENDINGWHO THE HELL IS BLOODSHOT?A primer on Vin Diesel's superhero
Revisiting 'Dark City' 20 years later - The most underrated and influential sci-fi film ever?
TRENDINGREVISITING 'DARK CITY' 20 YEARS LATERThe most underrated and influential sci-fi film ever?
Gallipoli - A powerful and important film remembered
TRENDINGGALLIPOLIA powerful and important film remembered
The World at War - The landmark documentary series restored in high definition
TRENDINGTHE WORLD AT WARThe landmark documentary series restored in high definition
Malila: The Farewell Flower - Contemplating love and loss
TRENDINGMALILA: THE FAREWELL FLOWERContemplating love and loss
Batman: The Long Halloween, Part Two - New villains, same problems
TRENDINGBATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN, PART TWONew villains, same problems
Buckley's Chance - Not worth a chance
TRENDINGBUCKLEY'S CHANCENot worth a chance
Calm with Horses - A savage and sensitive Irish crime drama
TRENDINGCALM WITH HORSESA savage and sensitive Irish crime drama
Shiva Baby - A comedy of discomfort
TRENDINGSHIVA BABYA comedy of discomfort
The Glass Room - Stunning yet soulless
TRENDINGTHE GLASS ROOMStunning yet soulless
Some Kind of Heaven - A bizarre lens into a Floridian retirement village
TRENDINGSOME KIND OF HEAVENA bizarre lens into a Floridian retirement village
25 Free-to-Watch Short Horror Films - The scariest shorts we uncovered online
TRENDING25 FREE-TO-WATCH SHORT HORROR FILMSThe scariest shorts we uncovered online
The Swallows of Kabul - Unflinching and gorgeously animated
TRENDINGTHE SWALLOWS OF KABULUnflinching and gorgeously animated
Cerulean Blue - Promising debut for a new voice in Australian cinema
TRENDINGCERULEAN BLUEPromising debut for a new voice in Australian cinema
The Violin Player - Sex and strings
TRENDINGTHE VIOLIN PLAYERSex and strings
2:22 - Mind-bending metaphysical mumbo-jumbo
TRENDING2:22Mind-bending metaphysical mumbo-jumbo
Birds of Prey - I'm here to report a terrible crime: DC has saved cinema
TRENDINGBIRDS OF PREYI'm here to report a terrible crime: DC has saved cinema
La Dolce Vita - Not as sweet as you'd think 60 years on
TRENDINGLA DOLCE VITANot as sweet as you'd think 60 years on
© 2011 - 2021 midnightproductions
All rights reserved

Support SWITCH | Disclaimer | Contact Us!