Director – Nicolas Roeg (The Man Who Fell to Earth, Heart of Darkness)
Starring – Anjelica Huston (The Addams Family, The Ice Pirates), Mai Zetterling (Faces in the Dark, Danger Man), and Jasen Fisher (Hook, Parenthood)
Release Date – 1990
Rating – 4/5
Blu Release – 2.5/5
Tagline – “Saving the world from witches is a tall order for a boy they’ve turned into a mouse!”
I’m a product of the 90s. I was born in the mid-80s but I definitely grew up in the 90s. I was a fan of Goosebumps, Are You Afraid of the Dark, Eerie Indiana, and so on. With that being said, I absolutely loved 80s cinema and Jim Henson was a huge part of my childhood. The Dark Crystal and The Labyrinth were common films to see playing across my television screen growing up. when I was in elementary school my grandma got HBO and Cinemax through her cable company.
As I was flipping through the channels I came across Henson’s name on the description for the 1990 film The Witches. I checked it out and fell in love with the film. The movie itself gave me the worst anxiety I had ever had at that point but I loved that feeling. The film recently got a blu release as part of the Warner Brothers Archive Collection and I was lucky enough to get a review copy. It was nice to pay this one a revisit.
**Spoiler Alert**The film follows Luke (Fisher) and his grandmother Helga (Zetterling) who plan a weekend getaway after the death of Luke’s parents. They visit a hotel in the countryside which just happens to fall on the same day a coven of witches have their annual get together. The witches hate children and plan on unleashing a secret potion that will turn them into rodents. Luke accidentally wonders into their meeting and is soon turned into a mouse. He is still able to talk and seeks help from his grandmother to help him stop the witches before all the children in the world suffers his same fate.**Spoiler Alert**
I watch a lot of movies that I would deem underrated but The Witches is one of the most underrated children’s fantasy horror movies I’ve ever seen. After announcing on social media that I was checking this one out I was shocked by the amount of people who said they had never seen this flick. I was young when I saw this one but I had watched it a few times since then and it’s just as entertaining now as it was all those years ago.
The acting in this one is unforgettable. Anjelica Huston, who many my age see as Morticia Addams, does a fantastic job as the Grand High Witch. She steals the show and her performance here is legendary. With that being said, you fall in love with Mai Zetterling and Jasen Fisher. They are so damn lovable in the film and their characters just pull you in. It’s because of their performances and the situation they find themselves that I found myself suffering from anxiety when I would watch this film as a child.
The story for this one is simple enough but works for a children’s fantasy horror flick. The movie itself is not as elaborate or magical as The Labyrinth or The Dark Crystal but for those of you, like myself, that love a good story centered around witches will really enjoy what the movie brings to the table. The movie has great pacing and the build up for the tension is enough to make an 8 or 9 year old me think he was going to have a heart attack.
Finally, this one is not bloody or gory but the witches are unforgettable especially the Grand High Witch. The practical effects and make up are unforgettable with this one. Overall, The Witches is a children’s classic that truly deserves to be seen. I highly recommend grabbing the blu. The movie looks great and well worth the price.