It is that time of year again, the leaves are falling, there is a chill in the air and Halloween is fast approaching. Witches, of course, are the epitome of Halloween.
Some movie witches are friendly and helpful, others are naughty and mischievous, and a few are just plain evil. So, in readiness for the big day, check out these 10 examples of the coolest, scariest and most enjoyable witchcraft movies that you need to watch this fall.
10 The Witch
2015’s unexpected horror hit The Witch (Eggers, USA/UK/CA/BR) focuses on a 17th century Puritan family trying to make it alone in the wilderness after they are expelled from their New England town.
Their new farm is next to an eerie wood where strange events occur. The baby is snatched while in the care of the eldest daughter leading her religious parents to suspect she is a witch.
The Witch does little to subvert female stereotypes but the film does create a tense climate of fear that burns till a shocking ending. It also serves as an interesting commentary on American isolationism.
9 The Witches
The Witches sees orphan Luke is sent to live with his Grandmother who believes in stories of child-snatching witches.
When Grandmother becomes sick they stay at an English coastal hotel for recuperation. Luke accidentally stumbles upon a plot organised by England’s witches to rid the world of children by turning them into mice.
Luke and his friend are themselves transformed into mice and must try to stop the witches’ evil plot.
The Witches (Roeg, 1990, UK/USA) is based on the beloved children’s book by Roald Dahl. It is a fun, light-hearted and filled with black humour.
The Jim Henson Company created impressive puppetry effects for the film, including the super-cute mice.
8 Paranormal Activity 3
Hidden camera hit Paranormal Activity spawned many sequels but things got interesting with Paranormal Activity 3 (Joost/Schulman, 2011, USA) where it was revealed that a coven of baby snatching witches (A lot of child snatching seems to go on in witch films!) were behind the paranormal disturbances.
The witches target a family with young daughters and groom the daughters to join the coven and give up their own first born sons for sacrifice when they grow up.
3 is the best film out of the series so far, with the most coherent attempt at a plot and the best scares including the classic ‘ghost under a sheet’ moment.
7 The Harry Potter series
All the Harry Potter films are really great examples of quality fantasy movies each with their own unique style. J K Rowling’s books and their big screen adaptions introduced children not only to the world of reading but also to the magical world of witches and wizards.
The Hogwarts witches are mostly friendly smart witches, like Hermione Granger, interested in learning and using their magic for good but there are also those who practice the dark arts.
To this day fans of the family-friendly movie series are still eager to discover more about its intricate, magical world through sites like Pottermore.
6 The Blair Witch Project
In The Blair Witch Project (Myrick/Sanchez, 1999, USA) friends Heather, Mike and Josh wonder the woods of Maryland in search of the Blair witch for their documentary.
They get lost, fall out, find a mysterious cabin in the woods and then disappear, leaving only their camera footage behind.
Watching Blair Witch it is hard to believe that in 1999 it became the highest grossing independent movie of all time.
This was mostly due to a viral ‘missing’ campaign causing people to believe that the footage shown in the movie was real. Fans went out and searched for the missing kids. A whole generation of ‘found footage’ movies was born.
5 Hocus Pocus
Three witches, played by Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy, are about to be hanged by the people of Salem for sucking the souls out of children.
They vow to return if a virgin lights a black candle on Halloween. Three children accidently resurrect the witches in the modern day and must stop them from stealing more souls.
Hocus Pocus (Ortega, 1993, USA) is a little overlooked now but it was, without a doubt one of the best family films of the nineties.
It’s a fun Halloween movie containing several song and dance numbers that almost every child who saw it had a go at re-enacting.
4 Kiki’s Delivery Service
In Kiki’s Delivery Service (Miyazaki, 1989, Japan) witches and wizards are commonplace. When a witch turns thirteen, their family sends them out into the world to start a new life, supporting themselves with their magical skills.
Kiki struggles with many traditional witchy skills and finds it hard to adapt until she realises that she can make deliveries on her broom with her black cat Jiji.
Kiki’s Delivery Service is a charming film because it uses fantasy to depict what it is like for young people taking their first steps into adulthood.
We see Kiki in her lonely moments getting by with little but we also share in her small triumphs along the way.
3 Practical Magic
Sally (Sandra Bullock) and Gillian (Nicole Kidman) are sisters born to a family of cursed witches. The men they love are destined to die. Orphaned, the girls are brought up by their aunts.
Young Sally casts a spell to protect her from heartache but grows up to marry and have daughters. After her husband is tragically killed Sally must face up to her family’s heritage.
Practical Magic (Dunne, 1998, USA) is really about the strength of women and the power of sisterhood. It is only when the women of the town come together that they can release their full potential. Practical Magic is a fun, uplifting witchcraft movie.
2 The Craft
Witches had a ‘moment’ in the nineties sending Wicca main-stream. The Craft (Fleming, 1996, USA) is a pop culture case in point. Sarah (Robin Tunney) moves to a new school and befriends a trio of troubled girls.
Bonnie (Neve Campbell) who is painfully scarred, Nancy (Fairuza Balk) who has trailer-trash parents, and Rochelle (Rachel True) who is bullied. The girls experiment with Wicca but their spells only work after Sarah joins their circle.
The Craft is like Mean Girls with witches. When Sarah falls out with the group hell hath no fury like three scorned teenage girls.
They use powerful dark magic to get retribution, but the negative magic comes back upon its master times three.
Suspiria (Argento, 1977, Italy) is the most stylish witch movie of all. It tells the story of Suzy, an American student, who wins a place at a prestigious Italian ballet school.
She arrives during a storm just as another girl is leaving. She overhears shouting but can’t make out the words because of the rain.
The girl is found murdered the next day. After a number of unsettling events, Suzy realises that the school is run by a coven of witches.
Argento uses psychedelic colours, unsettling music, and camera angles to make us feel like we are falling into a trippy nightmare. It is a masterpiece from an undisputed master of horror.
Do you agree with our list? Which is your favorite movie about witches and witchcraft?