Saturday, April 20, 2013

Top 5 Movie Guide: Witch Movies

For this edition of the Top 5 Movie Guide, in line with this weekend's release of "The Lords of Salem", we take a look at some of our favorite Witch Movies! "The Lords of Salem", from the mind of horror maestro Rob Zombie, is a chilling plunge into a nightmare world where evil runs in the blood. The film tells the tale of a radio station DJ living in Salem, Massachusetts, who receives a strange wooden box containing a record, a "gift from the Lords". She listens, and the bizarre sounds within the grooves immediately trigger flashbacks of the town's violent past. Is she going mad, or are the "Lords of Salem" returning for revenge on modern-day Salem?


We've kept some of our more recent Genre/Category lists pretty basic as of late, leading to little need for preface beforehand. If anyone filtered these out specifically, they'll say so before their picks, but otherwise, we generally accepted films into this category that contained witches, warlocks, wizards, and sorcerers. This list toed the line with another recent list, that on Magic, but most picks differentiated enough.

Hit the jump to see what we picked as some of our favorite films from this genre!


Alex Schopp -
The 90's were a good time for Witch Films, apparently.

     1. The Witches (1990)
I really love the imagery in this movie. It scared me as a child and it creeps me out thinking about now. This is a dark yet rewarding fairy tale, and the combination of Jim Henson and Roald Dahl definitely made for an enjoyable film for all ages here.
     2. Hocus Pocus (1993)
Childhood staple, of course. I actually have re-watched this within the last five years or so, and it really is not that good... Since this is such a weak category though, I'll let my nostalgia carry this one. But unless you are a small child or you carry the same memories for the film that I do, I see little value for you now. This is still a fun Halloween film, worthy of introducing to your children.
     3. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
The Wicked Witch of the West is a pretty menacing villain. I've seen this film so many time - and probably profiled it on these lists just as many - so it feels unnecessary to detail its achievements here. This is a wonderful film that everyone should be familiar with.
     4. The Crucible (1996)
Very solid cast, headlined by Daniel Day-Lewis. As a whole, this is a bit over-dramatic for me to revisit it often, but I can definitely appreciate its strong technical achievements. There are some powerful and emotional moments in this film.
     5. The Craft (1996)
This movie is a bit cheesy, but it's a fine mid-90's horror film that feels perfectly in place with things like "I Know What You Did Last Summer" and "Urban Legend" (for what that's worth).

Ben Foutch -

     1. The Witches (1990)
This earns the top spot purely for nostalgic value. It's a perfect family horror film.
     2. The Crucible (1996)
History is terrifying.
     3. The Craft (1996)
A surprisingly creepy teen horror film.
     4. Warlock (1989)
Didn't want to discriminate against the other half. This is low-budget/trash heaven.
     5. Suspiria (1977)
Horrid pace but massive with atmosphere.

Derek Clem -

     1. The Harry Potter Franchise (2001 - 2011)
I feel like I love these movies more and more as time goes on but for very different reasons than my initial reason for loving them. For example, I used to only watch The Goblet of Fire as a background movie, taking in the beautiful pallet in an ethereal way, but now I really get into the action taking place.
     2. Hocus Pocus (1993)
This is a childhood staple. A movie you should watch every Halloween. Is this one of maybe three times Sarah Jessica Parker has looked like a bombshell?
     3. The Crucible (1996)
One of Daniel Day Lewis' greatest acting moments: "Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life! Because I lie and sign myself to lies! Because I am not worth the dust on the feet of them that hang! How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name!"
     4. Practical Magic (1998)
I tell ya, Sandra Bullock sure does cast a spell over me every time I watch this flick. She's a babe!
     5. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Why is this so low, you ask? I realize this is the greatest movie on my list, but I've seen it so many times it's starting to turn into a "whatever movie"... whatever that means. It's especially hard for me to recommend it as a witch movie, as The Wicked Witch of the West is so darn annoying with her voice and laugh.

Nathan Hinds -

     1. Harry Potter Franchise (2001-2011)
My favorite film franchise (I consider LOTR one big film), and it wouldn't seem right to only pick one.
     2. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
One of the reasons that "Oz the Great and Powerful" kinda sucked was that Mila Kunis simply wasn't scary enough to play The Wicked Witch of the West. The original didn't have that problem since the actress to play her was plenty scary without any makeup.
     3. Stardust (2007)
Michelle Pfeiffer gets the award for best looking witch on my list, narrowly beating out Emma Watson. On another note, this movie is amazing.
     4. Hocus Pocus (1993)
This is a guilty pleasure from my childhood, and I still make a point to watch it at least once every year around Halloween.
     5. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (1988)
I'm talking about the BBC version, not the 2005 film. Even though I thought the 2005 film was entertaining and has a much higher production value, the 1988 version had much better actors. The main reason I chose this version is because the witch in the BBC version is far more menacing than the 2005 version.

Tracy Allison -
This is a relatively unexplored genre for me. I have a couple that I love, but I don’t feel strongly about witch movies in general.

     1. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
I think it’s amazing that so many kids born in the 80s and 90s watched and loved this movie from 40+ years before and that it continues to have such an impact on people today. It was so magical to me, from the switch from black and white to color, to the interesting creatures, the music, and the characters that embodied the very element they thought they lacked. It’s a lot of information for a child, but it’s a movie that inspired me to ask a lot of questions as a child. I think it introduced me to the idea that witches could be both good and evil.
     2. Spirited Away (2001)
I just rewatched this one less than a week ago and I really enjoyed it. The wealth of characters is great and the allegory warning against greed and for kindness to everyone is a nice message for children, but some of the imagery was creepy and frightening!
     3. Matilda (1996)
Would we call Matilda a witch? Eh, probably. A good, little girl witch. You feel so sorry for her, but in true Roald Dahl fashion, the good child wins in the end and becomes happy. Matilda has a bad life, but she soon learns she has powers and she uses them only to set right her life and the lives of those around her that are good to her.
     4. Enchanted (2007)
This movie is maybe a little “too girly” for me, but I love the idea of an actual fairy tale in New York. It was like all of the movies that I had watched as a child – updated.
     5. Sleeping Beauty (1959)
Maleficent is like one of the absolute meanest and worst villains, ever.

So there we have it, folks. Quite the variety of films this week, especially for a category that doesn't necessarily feel as deep as ones we've dissected in the past. Overall there were 15 different films making appearances above, and six with multiple selections.

No film appeared on all five lists, but one, "The Wizard of Oz", made its way onto four. This is a classic and a masterpiece. Surely everyone is familiar with this film, but if by chance you are not, you should get that corrected.

We had two films appear on three lists - "Hocus Pocus" and "The Crucible" - and three films hit on two lists - "The Harry Potter Franchise", "The Witches", and "The Craft". We ran the spectrum here, with everything from critically acclaimed films to horror movies to children's fairy tales. These all seem like some of the most notable films from the genre, and all great choices to start with when further exploring the category.

As always, we hope that each of the selections above helps to expand your knowledge and appreciation of some of the best films that this genre has to offer, and guides you to better and more enjoyable all-around viewing experiences.

Happy watching!