Updated: Apr 10
If you don’t celebrate Halloween year round like some of us do, than October first is officially the start of the spooky season. The most wonderful time of year when the weather cools, the leaves fall and we all gather around to watch scary movies and tell spooky stories. This year Mandragora Magika has decided to create a list of films that feature witches front and center. We call it Witch Watch and we will put out one-a-day for the month of October.
TOP 3 were calculated by Instagram likes! and the Winners are..... at the bottom of the blog....
DAY 1 - HOCUS POCUS
One cannot have a witchy movie list that doesn’t include our first film - the holiday classic Hocus Pocus. Though considered a box office bust when it was released (during the summer.... really Disney) in 1993, the movie has since gone on to become a staple of the Halloween season. The movie, which features the Sanderson Sisters on a heroic quest to rid the children of Salem of their youth, has something for everyone: candy, costumes, ghosts, talking cats, living spell books, friendly zombies and three of the most charming witches ever. It has gone on to spawn everything from toys to books to costumes, makeup kits and everything in between. Rumor has it, a sequel may even be in the works. We will keep our fingers and (dead men’s) toes crossed for that one! So grab the kids, some Clark Bars and cast a circle of salt, as this flick is fun for the whole family.
DAY 2 - SEASON OF THE WITCH
Our next Witch Watch is 1972’s Season of the Witch. Written and directed by horror master George Romero, Season of the Witch tells the tale of Joan. Joan is a middle-aged housewife and she can’t take it anymore. She spends all day being strangled by her suburban existence - her husband is either absent or abusive, her daughter is a teenage runaway and her friends are boring drunks. On top of that, she’s plagued by nightmares reflecting the horror of her own existence back at her. All that changes when she discovers the wonderful world of witchcraft. She meets new and interesting people, attracts a new lover, kills someone, gets a cat and a coven. Things really are looking much better for Joan after that. I think we can all learn a lot from ole Joan.
Fun facts: the studio originally wanted this to be a soft-core porn but George Romero wasn’t having any of that! Also they used the book "Mastering Witchcraft" by Paul Huson as the source of information.
DAY 3 - THE VVITCH
We’ve always thought of the VVitch less as a horror movie and more as a heartwarming coming of age tale. For those who haven’t seen Robert Eggers instant classic, The VVitch is a New England folk tale set in the 1630s. It revolves around a young girl, Thomasin, and her religiously extreme family as they are cast out of town and into the wilderness to fend for themselves among the wild, wicked world. Once settled, they encounter everything Puritans feared from witches - bloody milk and eggs, failed crops, baby-stealing potion brewing hags and the most adorable talking goat that you’ve ever seen. Often considered the true star of the film, the goat so named Black Phillip has gone on to legendary status. Everything in the film is historically accurate from the hand stitched costumes to authentic old English dialogue. While the film may be decisive among horror fans, we consider it our favorite of all witch films and highly recommend watching it (multiple times).
DAY 4 - BLACK SUNDAY
Our next film is the 1960 Italian horror film, Black Sunday aka The Mask is Satan. The Mario Bava-directed film kicks off with Princess Asa Vadja and her brother being killed by a hunky executioner during a witch trial in the seventeenth century in Moldavia. Moments before her execution Asa confesses - yes, she is a witch and a vampire and offended at the nerve of the townsfolk for daring to murder her, she curses the land for the rest of time. Every century she returns looking for the new princess, her doppelgänger descendent, in order to drain her youth and take her place. They failed the first time, but now 200 years later they return to release their vengeance on the royal family (specifically Princess Katia) and two visiting doctors who made the unfortunate mistake of stopping off at the castle to stay the night. Will they drain Katja’s youth and bring in a new reign for Satan or will Katia, her brother and the handsome doctors thwart their plans once and for all? Tune in to find out. Vampire Witches for Satan.... what more could you ask for?
DAY 5 - TEEN WITCH
When it comes to witch movies you can’t “Top That” 1989 fantasy-comedy Teen Witch. Louise Miller (Robyn Lively) has it rough; her dog of a little brother is always insulting her and breaking into her room to read her diary, her parents and teachers just don’t understand her, her crush is dating the mean girl across the street and nobody’s coming to her sweet sixteen. Louise and her best friend, Polly, couldn’t be less popular if they tried. They think they’ll never be hip until everything changes after a fateful encounter with a fortune teller, Madam Serena (the always outstanding Zelda Rubenstein). Louise learns she is a witch who will receive her powers on her 16th birthday. With her newfound powers, Louise gets everything she wants - she meets her favorite rockstar, gets a whole new wardrobe, is dating brad (the red-hot lover) and is the most popular girl in school! With witchcraft, Louise has turned her awkward adolescence into her finest hour. This nostalgic classic certainly didn’t lead to life crushing disappointment for a generation of kids convinced they’d get magical powers on their 16th birthday and we definitely don’t speak from experience. Look out for Bewitched’s Dick Sargent as Louise’s dad.
DAY 6 - THE LORDS OF SALEM
You know things will get extreme when Rob Zombie makes it to the Witch Watch. Today’s film, 2012’s The Lords of Salem, brings to us Zombie’s take on the Witch archetype. During the Salem Witch Trials, Margaret Morgan and her glorious coven of hags are executed by the horrendous Reverend Hawthorne for the minimal crimes of gathering in the woods, damning babies and creating music that entrance the women of Salem into doing their bidding. These little “crimes” barely register as a misdemeanor in my book but according to the reverend they are deserving of execution. Before that however, Margaret has the chance to curse the people of Salem and the reverend’s bloodline in particular - claiming that one of his descendants will give birth to the child of Satan. Fast forward to present times and star DJ Heidi LaRoc (Sheri Moon Zombie) receives an anonymous record of hypnotizing music from an unknown group simply named The Lords. Each time the music plays, Heidi receives horrifying visions of ancient witches and demons. If that wasn’t bad enough, her landlord and her weird sisters (which include Cujo’s Dee Wallace and The Rocky Horror Picture Show’s Patricia Quinn) have taken an unhealthy interest in Heidi.