Updated: 5 days ago
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.
What could go wrong?! Will Heidi succumb to the music of the lords and place modern-day Salem under its spell? Will Margaret’s curse come to fruition and see the birth of Satan’s Spawn? Will Rob Zombie push the witch genre to limits never seen before? You’ll have to watch The Lords of Salem to find out!
DAY 7 - THE WOODS (2006)
You will learn why the phrase “Don’t go into the woods” is so prevalent in horror movies in 2006’s aptly titled, The Woods. Directed by Lucky McKee (May), The Woods takes place in 1965 at the exclusive Falburn Academy, an all-girls boarding school deep in the woods of New England. Teenage rebel and Post Pubescent Pyromaniac, Heather is sent to the academy by her parents for starting a fire back at home. (Her father is played by none other than Bruce Campbell, who we all know is well versed in strange happenings in the middle of the woods.) Once she arrives, Heather quickly finds herself in the suspicious sight of the headmistress, Ms. Traverse who begins giving her private lessons that seem to have nothing to do with regular schoolwork. Like I said, she’s a rebel - she butts heads with her teachers, fights with the bullies, and befriends the school outcast. Things start getting weird when she does the unthinkable and balances a pencil on its tip which everyone who is anyone knows is always the first sign of teenage witchcraft. Soon girls start disappearing in the night, being replaced with a human shaped pile of leaves in their beds. Then, Heather begins hearing whispers come from.... The Woods. This can’t be a coincidence.
Could the weird headmistresses and the secret history of the academy - which may or may not have something to do with three witch sisters from the ancient woods - have anything with the missing students of Falburn Academy? Heather has to muster all of her teen angst to find out or she could be the next one missing!
DAY 8 - MARK OF THE WITCH (1970)
Do you bear the Mark of the Witch? You’ll find out in the 1970 horror film Mark of the Witch. The movie starts, like so many others, with a witch being executed in the 1600s. This film differs as the witch in this case is in a full beat face of makeup complete with false eyelashes that I had no idea existed in the 1600s. In all of her fabulousness, she lifts her hair as they place the noose around her neck before allowing her to recite the longest pre-execution curse in cinematic history (that may be hyperbole but I doubt it). 300 years after that, the decidedly less fabulous Jill and her boyfriend, Alan, are buying books on witchcraft to prepare for a party at their occult professor’s house later that night. Sybil Leek’s "Diary of a Witch" gets a nice call out but it’s a small red book that catches Jill’s attention. In it, she finds a spell to resurrect an ancient witch and plans to perform it at the party. Unfortunately for her, the spell appears to be a dud - or was it? Immediately after, Jill’s behavior starts to change and her friends begin to wonder if a witch wasn’t resurrected after all...
DAY 9 - WARLOCK (1989)
If it’s one thing I know about male witches,it is that they all definitely prefer to be referred to as Warlocks (note sarcasm). Hollywood also knows this and to show their support made an entire horror movie franchise simply titled Warlock. This Witch Watch will focus on the first in the series, 1989’s Warlock. The movie starts in 1691, when moments before the Warlock’s (Julian Sands) execution for witchcraft, the devil appears. He opens a portal and sends the warlock three centuries into the future but is unaware that a witch hunter named Redferne also jumps through the portal. They both land in the apartment of a twenty something waitress named Kassandra, who becomes cursed. Now in 1980s California, the Warlock is entrusted by Satan to search out and collect the pages of The Grand Grimoire in order to undo all of creation. Along the way he runs into orgasmic psychics, steals jewelry (and body parts) left and right, curdles milk, ages women, makes Mennonites eyes bleed, terrorizes priests and sources organic child fat for a flying potion. Kassandra and Redferne trail The Warlock across the country, hoping to stop him from collecting all the pages of The Grand Grimoire. The fact that there are two sequels is a hint that they may succeed but I’m not one to spoil an ending.
(Side note: Parts of this film and even more so of its sequel, Warlock: Armageddon, feature that completely realistic and totally not-fake early 90s computer graphics despite what the child version of me thought at the time)
DAY 10 - WITCHES OF EASTWICK
Today’s movie is one that I’m sure is on everyone’s Witch Watch list, The Witches of Eastwick. Jane, Alex and Sukie (played by relatively unknown actresses) are three friends that don’t fit in their small prim and proper Massachusetts town. One night, over a few drinks, they start discussing their idea of the perfect man (nothing big, just a tall, dark handsome prince you can talk to - simple enough) and half-jokingly wish he would bring some fresh meat to their sleepy town. Unbeknownst to them, Daryl Van Horne (Jack Nicholson) just so happens to fit all those qualities and was planning on stopping into Eastwick anyway. Once there, he empowers and overpowers the women causing all four of them to become the talk of the town. The gossiping biddy, Felicia, is doing the most talking and seems to be attempting to turn the whole town against the ladies.... or as she calls them - witches. How dare those women feel their best, look their best, and allow themselves to have their every pleasure fulfilled by that horny little devil of a man. Everything is going great - they’re enjoying the finest food and drink, are dressed in the best clothes and Jane’s hair has never looked better. Not to mention the fact that they have the man of their dreams and are becoming a family. Rumors start to spread quickly until one night, while enjoying some cherries by the pool, the witches innocently wish Felicia would just leave them alone. When they discover she died the next day, they start to wonder if Daryl’s influence isn’t all wine and roses. As they start to distance themselves, they discover that Daryl Van Horne does not take kindly to rejection and as his attempts to win them back get more malevolent, he discovers that The Witches of Eastwick aren’t to be messed with.
DAY 11 - PUMPKINHEAD
Y’all know what settles on badness, don’t ya? Pumpkinhead! If you don’t know the name, then you’re in for a treat with 1988’s Pumpkinhead. When a bunch of dirt bike riding city kids head into the country to party in a cabin for the weekend, they immediately run into trouble. When stopping by a country store in the backwoods, the teens meet store owner Ed Harley and his son Billy. While recklessly riding their dirt bikes outside the store, they fatally injure Billy and take off running. Ed is horrified to find his beloved son and is shocked at how the callous city folk could leave him for dead. He brings his son deep into the hills to the cabin of the old hollow witch, Haggis. While she can’t raise the dead and bring his son back, she can offer him revenge. All he needs to do is go to the pumpkin patch graveyard and bring back the remains that are buried there. Once he returns she conjures up the vengeance demon, Pumpkinhead. As Pumpkinhead starts slaughtering the teenagers (Go Pumpkinhead!), Ed realizes that he and the creature are linked allowing him to see the death of everyone killed. Ed is faced with two choices - relish in his revenge or be horrified at the man his grief has made him. Will he have a change of heart before Pumpkinhead slaughters all he’s marked? I love this backwoods witch film which went on to spawn three sequels, a comic book and much more. It also marks the film debut of Mayim Bialik of Blossom fame.
DAY 12 - ELVIRA, MISTRESS OF THE DARK
You can’t have a Witch Watch without the mistress of the dark! The 1988 classic, “Elvira, Mistress of the Dark”, showcases Cassandra Peterson’s legendary character, Elvira, the horror hostess that puts the boob in boob tube. Elvira dreams of having her own Vegas show and leaving the sleazy television circuit behind but needs $50,000 to do it (don’t we all?). In what turns out to be perfect timing, her Great Aunt Morgana (a long-lost aunt who she never knew existed) has died and left Elvira an inheritance. The one problem, she has to travel to Falwell, Massachusetts to get it. Once she arrives, the adults in town make it obvious that they can’t handle the cool ghoul that is Elvira. When her inheritance turns out to be a house, a dog and a book, Elvira finds herself stuck in Falwell until she can sell the house and make enough money for Vegas. After encountering the conservative crazy Chastity Pariah, the pointed and putrid Patty (owner of the bowling alley - the hottest place in town) and the rest of the towns moral council, it’s obvious that the whole town is against her. Luckily for Elvira, she has her punk rock poodle,Gonk, the hunky local theater owner, Bob, and the town’s teens by her side. Well, them and her great Aunt Morgana’s spell book. In between conjuring up casserole monsters and orgy causing Hors d'oeuvres, Elvira is finally getting in touch with her roots and getting back at those who have wronged her.... until her diabolical Uncle Vinny convinces the town to charge Elvira with witchcraft. Will this turn out be unpleasant dreams for our horror heroine or has Uncle Vinny met his match?
DAY 13 - VIRGIN WITCH
Today’s Witch Watch is the 1972 horror schlocky sexploitation film, Virgin Witch. This film is a love-it-or-hate-it movie which is probably based on your proclivities… but I can assure you, there are no virgins in this film. The British film was made on a modest budget which featured very little money for wardrobe as is evident in the opening scene which features each actress topless as their names flash across the screen. Real life sisters, Ann and Vicki Michelle (who have both since disowned Virgin Witch), play movie sisters Christine and Betty. The sisters have recently moved into an apartment in London after running away to become models. Christine gets her big break when she meets modeling agent Sybil Waite who books her for a job in the English countryside for that weekend. Of course, she’s allowed to bring her sister with her as a chaperone. Things seem normal at first until it’s uncovered that Sybil is (gasp!) a lesbian who lusts after the virginal Christine and has the ulterior motive of using the modeling weekend as a guise to initiate Christine into a coven of witches. Led by the high priest Gerald Amberly, Christine is all too willing to be devirginized in a ceremonial initiation and join the coven of witches. However, Christine is not as innocent as she portrays herself to be - a fact that Sybil quickly realizes as Christine makes her intentions clear. Christine has decided that she will replace Sybil as high-priestess in the group and doesn’t care what Sybil has to say on the matter. With a witch war brewing, the coven sets their sights on the last virgin in the midst – Christine’s innocent sister Betty. Will Betty’s new boyfriend make it to the countryside in time to save her from the predatory witches or will she be their next initiate? Find out in Virgin Witch.
DAY 14 - WICKED STEPMOTHER
I absolutely cannot believe that I have been alive as long as I have and had never seen today’s Witch Watch, 1989’s Wicked Stepmother. The film starts as detectives enter a house and find the family inside... shrunken and in a shoebox but otherwise unharmed. Across town, Steve and his bitchy wife Jenny, come home from vacation to find her elderly father has remarried the exquisitely fabulous Miranda (played by one of the greatest actress of all time, Bette Davis, in her final film). Jenny is bitter and obviously upset that her father has remarried after the death of her mother (who is hilariously pictured as none other than Joan Crawford). Without ever giving the glorious Miranda a chance, Jenny is out to find something wrong with her new stepmother. Unfortunately for Jenny, there is nothing wrong with Miranda - she’s just a wise-cracking cigarette-smoking cat-conjuring witch. Unable to dig up any dirt on her own, the increasingly unhinged Jenny hires a private detective to follow Miranda. When Miranda’s daughter, the seductress Priscilla, comes for a visit, Jenny is at the end of her rope. Between Miranda and Priscilla, she doesn’t stand a chance in a hell - so she learns some magic of her own and tries to start an all-out witch war. This black comedy from director Larry Cohen (The Stuff) has some hilarious moments, is pure camp and I’m happy to have it as a new witch flick to add to the mix.
DAY 15 - LITTLE WITCHES (1996)
Today’s Witch Watch is that 1996 movie about a group of catholic schoolgirls who get involved with witchcraft until one of them gets power-hungry and risks destroying everything. No, not The Craft but the Canadian-horror movie that came out a few months after The Craft, Little Witches. Stuck at Santa Clarita Catholic School over Easter break, good girl Faith gets roomed with bad girl Jamie (Sheeri Rappaport) and begins hanging out with her group of friends (including Clea Duval in her first film) who all just happen to be stuck at school over break as well. The very second that they are introduced, teenage Jamie starts full on stripping for a group of construction workers renovating part of the church, much to their delight. The strip tease is interrupted when the construction workers uncover an ancient satanic temple, filled with bodies, buried beneath the church. Father Michael (Twin Peaks’ Jack Nance) and Sister Sherilyn (Jennifer Rubin, Nightmare on Elm Street 3) try to keep the girls under control, but they are hell-bent on getting into trouble. While dodging the mysterious mother superior, Mother Clodah (Zelda Rubenstein, who makes her second Witch Watch appearance), the girls steal the communion wine and sneak into the satanic temple. Once there, they find an ancient spell book and decide it’d be a good idea to open the gates of hell to summon a demon in order to obtain some magical powers. When Faith makes a date with the very adult construction worker, Daniel, a jealous Jamie tries to seduce him and has Faith walk in during the act. Heartbroken over the adult man she just met, Faith starts to question the girls and their demonic doings. When it is revealed that there is a guardian at the church whose mission is it to kill all witches before they can summon the demon, it’s a witch race to see who will prevail first – the father and the nuns or the witches and the devil puppet demon they are trying to release.
DAY 16 - THE WORST WITCH (1986)
Here’s a witch watch for the kiddies (or the inner child in us all), 1986’s British musical-comedy The Worst Witch. Based on the 1974 book the same name, the movie follows Mildred (Fairuza Balk in the role that started her Witchy greatness) a new student at Miss Cackle’s Academy for Witches. Everyone thinks Mildred is the worst witch in the academy and makes sure to let her know at every opportunity. From the strict Miss Hardbroom (Dianna Rigg) to the hoggish bully Ethel, nobody is willing to give Mildred a chance, except for the charming headmistress Miss Cackle (Charlotte Rae - Edna Garrett, The Facts of Life). Life in the academy is hard for poor Mildred - she has one friend, can’t get her potions right, miscasts her spells and can’t even get her kitten to balance on her broomstick in what I find to be an entirely unsafe familiar flying lesson. When it’s announced that The Grand Wizard (the legendary Tim Curry) is visiting the academy for Halloween, everyone goes into a frenzy. All the teachers and the prepubescent girls lust after The Grand Wizard and are sure that Mildred is going to make them all look bad. When Miss Cackle announces that Mildred will be included in the opening ceremony to welcome The Grand Wizard, Ethel sets out to sabotage her. Meanwhile in the woods outside the school, a group of evil witches in their cheapest Party City costumes toil away. Led by Agatha, Miss Cackles pink haired twin sister, the evil witches plan to take over Miss Cackles Academy to run it how they see fit. After Ethel plays a mean trick on Mildred jeopardizing her place in the ceremony, an upset Mildred flees to the woods where she uncovers the evil witches and learns of their plot. Can Mildred make it back to the school to save the day in time for Halloween or will The Worst Witch mess up again? As the Grand Wizard makes his way, flying across a green screen sky above the academy, it’s all on Mildred to stop Agatha.
Fun trivia fact: after graduating Miss Cackles Academy, Mildred is sick of everyone’s crap. She becomes a goth, changed her name to Nancy and moved to California where she forms a coven of her own in the mid-90s.
DAY 17 - I MARRIED A WITCH (1942)
One of the greatest things about witch films are their ability to transcend genre. Not all witch movies are horror movies as the Witch Watch list has shown you. In fact, many of the early and most entertaining witch films were not classified as horror at all, take the 1942 fantasy romantic comedy, I Married A Witch. An obvious influence for Bewitched (which was released over two decades later) I Married A Witch is a hilarious film about a love, marriage, magic and a bit of revenge and pyromania thrown in for good measure. The film starts with a witch burning as so many of these do, Jennifer (the stunning Veronica Lake) and her devilish father Daniel are being burnt at the stake by putrid puritan Jonathon Wooley. As is also the case in many of these, right before burning Jennifer is able to issue a curse – “all ye Woolys shall be cursed, your marriages will be the worst, never shall ye find love” or some such 1600 rhyme. The witches are buried underneath a great oak tree and as the centuries pass, we are shown the many cases in which Jennifer’s curse was a success. Flash forward to 1942 and lightning strikes the oak tree, setting Jennifer and Daniel free…. Just without bodies and as puffs of smoke. They travel through (what was then) modern day Salem and marvel at how things have changed. When they stumble upon a party for Wallace Wooley’s run for government, Jennifer begs her father to give her a body so she can torment the descendent of the man who murdered her. As a witch, this is something he can very much do, it’s just the spell requires a great fire to do it – so why not burn down The Puritan Hotel (sounds great!). As she’s given a body inside the hotel, Wallace is leaving his campaign party and hears her calling from inside the burning building. He rushes in where she lets him save her and thus the torture starts. Jennifer’s plan for tormenting Wallace is to make him fall in love with her, but when a potion mix-up goes wrong and Jennifer takes the love potion intended for Wallace, the real fun begins. I Married A Witch is a must-see Witch Watch that we absolutely adore.
DAY 18 - SLEEPY HOLLOW (1999)
Heads will roll in today’s Witch Watch, Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow. The gothic supernatural horror film is based on the 1820 "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" but now includes 400% more witches than in the original tale. After mouthing off to a judge (played by everyone’s favorite Lord Summerisle, Christopher Lee), Constable Ichabod Crane (Johnny Depp) is sent to Sleepy Hollow to investigate a series of grisly beheadings. Once he arrives, he is welcomed into the home of local businessman Baltus Van Tassel and his new wife. He also meets and becomes immediately smitten with his white witch of a daughter, Katrina (Christina Rocci). As they flirt amongst the beautifully colored landscape, the headless horseman rides through town collecting heads on an endless quest to find his own missing skull. One such head collecting trip results in a young boy, Masbath, becoming orphaned and the child pledges himself to Ichabod’s cause. Together, they travel deep into the woods to visit one of the coolest crones ye ever shall meet who tells them the tale of the Hessian Horseman, his missing head and his tree of the dead. They travel to the tree to discover that the horseman’s skull is indeed gone and is being used to control him. When another murder takes out the town leader, allowing Baltus to take his place., Ichabod starts wondering who could be controlling the Headless Horseman for their own gain. Throughout his investigation, Ichabod is plagued with nightmares that reveal his own mother was also a witch. They all lead to a final question, is there a fourth witch in their midst and if so, which witch is controlling the headless horseman? 21 years after its release, Sleepy Hollow is still a great take on the classic legend. I forgot how visually striking the film is and was totally immersed in the beautiful filmmaking upon my recent rewatch.
DAY 19 - ROSEMARY'S BABY
You are cordially invited to celebrate the pregnancy of Mrs. Rosemary Woodhouse thrown by her husband and loving neighbors, The Castanets. Roman Polanski directs Mia Farrow in our latest Witch Watch - the 1968 horror classic, Rosemary’s Baby. Rosemary Woodhouse is married to her husband, Guy. Guy is an actor who, as Rosemary will mention multiple times “was in "Luther" and "Nobody Loves an Albatross" and a lot of television plays and commercials.” In hopes of starting a family, they move into the historical Bramford Apartment (sure, its historical title comes from a history involving Victorian baby eating witches… but it sure is fancy). Once moved in, Rosemary meets a bubbly young woman named Terry who is staying with the Woodhouse’s elderly neighbors, Roman and Minnie Castanet (Ruth Gordon – who I’ll say right now makes this entire movie). When Terry plunges from the window of the apartment to her death, Rosemary is shocked but through this tragedy she grows closer to the Castanets. They start having dinners and spending lots of time together – sharing recipes and decorating tips. One night after dinner and before they start attempting to make a baby, Minnie stops by with her latest treat – a beautiful chocolate mousse complete with a lovely chalky under taste. After begrudgingly eating the mousse (in part due to Guy’s ever increasing controlling behavior), Rosemary feels woozy and must take a nap. While sleeping, she dreams of a beast raping her while her elderly neighbors and their naked friends all watch. When she wakes up naked covered in scratches, Guy lets her know that he didn’t want to miss baby night so he just had sex with her while she was passed out but don’t worry, he’s already clipped his fingernails. As if fated, Rosemary finds out later that she is pregnant and even though she only hazily remembers the conception is overjoyed with the news. Guy rushes to tell the Castanets who immediately set Rosemary up with a famous doctor friend of theirs, Dr. Sapperstein. The rest of her pregnancy is a blur – she foregoes vitamins for herbal shakes from Minnie, loses a bunch of weight, starts looking sickly, gets a new pixie cut which Guy tells her looks awful and starts to get a generally haunting feeling. When Rosemary’s close friend Hutch dies after falling into a coma, he leaves her a book detailing the history of The Bramford. The book titled, "All of Them Witches," details the occult crimes that have taken place in the building. In it, Rosemary finds the photo of the famous Satanists that once ruled The Bramford and their son looks suspiciously like Roman. After that, she becomes increasingly paranoid that the Castanets are evil and are doing something to her baby. Her husband and doctor tell her she’s just having some pre-partem hysteria and going crazy, but don’t worry it happens to lots of women. As the baby grows and her due-date gets closer, Rosemary knows something isn’t right but is just hoping for a happy and healthy baby (though it’d be a plus if the baby had his father’s eyes).
DAY 20 - THE LOVE WITCH
All witches need to find where their power lies and for Elaine, that power is love. The Love Witch (2016) is one of our very favorite films on the Witch Watch list. Written and Directed by Anna Biller (who also edited, produced, and scored the film), The Love Witch follows the journey of a witch on a search for her ultimate polarity. After the mysterious death of her husband, Elaine (Samantha Robinson) moves to a new city where she spends her days in a beautiful apartment, making art, doing witchcraft and dreaming of love. She recounts how when she was in the depths of depression, she met her high priestess (Jennifer Ingrum), got initiated into a coven and discovered her true power. However, when the new men she meets on this quest meet unfortunate fates, Elaine fears she might never find the lord to her lady. So what’s a witch to do? Witchcraft of course! Elaine will find her soul mate no matter what it takes and when a handsome detective enters her life, she’s sure she found the one. (Even if he is investigating the deaths of some of Elaine’s less fortunate lovers.) The Love Witch is a work of art - the detail, the dialogue, the design are all perfectly executed. It feels like a classic film from a bygone era and it’s obvious that Anna Biller has done her research. From quoting parts of Doreen Valiente’s "The Charge" to creating sets using colors inspired by the Thoth Tarot deck, The Love Witch is a film that every witch will love.
DAY 21 - BELL, BOOK AND CANDLE
Bell, Book and Candle is considered by some to be a classic witch film and so we decided that it should probably be included on the Witch Watch list. The 1958 film, based on the 1950 Broadway play, stars Kim Novak as Gillian, an art-gallery owning witch who falls in love with her new neighbor Shep (Jimmy Stewart). Gillian, her brother and her Aunt Queenie, spend their days hanging out at astrologically themed beatnik bars while strait-laced Shep is a book publisher set to marry an uptight woman named, Merle. Gillian and Merle have a history as they attended the same college, and their clashing personalities may have resulted in more than one spell being cast. When Gillian falls for Shep, Merle has to be removed from the picture. Enter the real star of the film, the beautiful Pyewacket, Gillian’s cat and familiar. Pyewacket steals the show as the real spellcaster and is never properly honored by the cast of the film. After one such spell, Shep dumps Merle and falls madly in love with Gillian. They plan a wonderful life together until an author of witchcraft books arrives and signs a deal with Shep for a new book about witches in the city. Gripped by greed, Gillian’s brother makes a deal with the author to share all their supernatural secrets in exchange for a cut of the profits. Between his betrayal and Queenie's meddling, Shep discovers the truth about Gillian and the test to see if their love is real begins. While the film is disguised as a light hearted romantic comedy, there is an underlying message that is a call to all witches: Never fall in love with a human, they only want to make you cry and steal your powers. This film - along with the previous Witch Watch entry, I Married a Witch - served as inspiration for another cautionary tale about falling in love with a human, the 1960s series Bewitched.
DAY 22 - THE WITCHES (1990)
Eva Ernst respectfully requests your attendance at the annual convention of The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. Obviously, this is a cause we can all get behind… except The RSFTPOCTC is really a guise for all the witches in the world to gather and plan for world domination and Eva Ernst is the pseudonym for The Grand High Witch (played inimitably by Anjelica Houston). Their plan is simple – create a potion that turns all the world’s children into mice and put it in candy all across the globe. See witches – in all their claw-fingered, bald-headed, square-footed, purple-eyed glory – hate children. After all, children are loud, annoying and most importantly, reek with the stench of dog droppings. Something has to be done about children infesting everything. When 8-year old Luke and his grandmother visit the same hotel that is hosting the witch conference, the child is in for a treat – a chocolate one that turns him into a mouse. Together with another young boy-turned-mouse, Bruno, the two must face off against the candy-pushing coven to find a way to reverse the potion and regain their human form. Only Luke’s grandmother Helga, who has had her own dealings with witches, can help the children save the world. Today’s Witch Watch, The Witches (1990), was based off Roald Dahl’s 1983 book which has been remade (and released today) starring Anne Hathaway attempting to recreate the greatness that was Anjelica Huston’s Grand High Witch. Have you seen the remake (2020)? If so, what did you think? Does it hold up to the original or is it another remake gone wrong?
DAY 23 - THE WITCH'S MIRROR (1962)
Gaze into the looking glass of today’s Witch Watch, the 1962 Mexican horror film, El Espejo de la Bruja or The Witch’s Mirror. In the supernaturally stunning Chano Urueta film, a woman named Elena goes to her godmother, Sara, to have her fortune read through the witch’s mirror. When the godmother sees Elena’s murder at the hands of her husband Eduardo and his lover, she pleas with the gods to spare her goddaughter. The gods respond saying that the murder is fated and if she tries to change it, they will take their revenge. After Eduardo poisons Elena’s milk, she dies and Eduardo immediately remarries the annoying spaz Deborah who moves in. Deborah is jealous of Elena’s memory and makes Eduardo swear to never mention her again. Do you think Sara and Elena’s spirit will let this go unpunished? Hell no they won’t. Deborah’s flowers start dying, the fireplace goes out and the piano plays Elena’s song on its own - she’s certainly not subtle at dropping hints. Sorry Deborah, but you and Eduardo have got to go. After a mysterious fire covers Deborah in flames, (gee, who could’ve done that) she is wrapped in bandages and in deep depression. Eduardo vows to restore her beauty no matter what levels of depravity he must descend into to do it. However, Sara and Elena have other plans for the evil Eduardo and his Freddy Krueger wife.
DAY 24 - HAXAN (1922)
“Unadulterated Horror…absolutely unfit for public consumption” said Variety magazine when today’s Witch Watch was released in 1922. The brilliant, Haxan or Witchcraft Through the Ages, shocked the world when it was originally released. Heavily censored in other countries and outright banned in the United States, the film was controversial at its time but is now considered a masterpiece by many (consider Mandragora Magika one of the many). The silent-film is part history / part horror and depicts witches as well as witch trials in the middle ages. The result is a visual feast for the eyes as depictions of witches sabbats, and satan dance across the screen. Satan in particular is especially charming in this film – enchanting maidens, terrorizing monks, possessing nuns, leading hellish celebrations, having his butt kissed and flicking his tongue enticing throughout. (Oh that Satan!) As the witches generally terrorize the village, making baby potions and bewitching the townsfolk, the inquisition arrives. Through heartbreaking scenes of torture, imprisonment and murder, the church sweeps through the town to rid it of the witches. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the film as it was completed in 1920. There is something about watching this century old film that is magical in and of itself. The scenes depicted and the way they were filmed using the technology of the time creates an almost otherworldy effect. The filmstock itself lends to an almost dreamlike atmosphere with the contrast of the tones produces a look that could never be replicated accurately today. The amount of work that went into Haxan is astounding and if you’ve never seen it, we highly recommend you do.
DAY 25 - THE DEVIL RIDES OUT (1968)
This Witch Watch features horror icon Christopher Lee and the strange events surrounding a pagan may day ritual. No, not the Wicker Man but the 1968 Hammer Horror film, The Devil Rides Out. Christopher Lee in rare form for a Hammer Horror, as he actually plays a good guy, stars as Nicholas, Duc de Richleu. Together with his friend, Rex, they go to investigate the new house of a son of a friend they have promised to look after, Simon. Something is strange about Simon’s new pad – its heavily decorated with pentagrams, has a giant goat head inlayed in marble on the ground and he’s hosting a party filled with a devil-worshipping cult… I mean, his astronomical club. Nicholas and Rex comes to the (obvious) conclusion that Simon may have gotten himself mixed up in the dark underworld of the occult. They realize that it is up to them to save not only Simon but his soul as well before he is initiated into the cult. At the party, they meet another young initiate, Tanith, and the leader of the group, Mocata (Charles Grey). Mocata is immediately suspicious of Nicholas and Rex and his suspicions are confirmed when the two interrupt his mayday ritual and rescue the two initiates. Mocata is horrified as the guest of honor to his wild ritual, The Glorious Goat of Mendes, had just arrived to see it all go down. How embarrassing! After such an insult, Mocata launches an all-out war against the two interlopers as he vows to get back his initiates and unleash the ultimate evil in a satanic ceremony. This film is classic Hammer greatness complete with super realistic green screen, giant tarantulas and guest appearance by the angel of death.
DAY 26 - SUSPIRIA (2018)
Today’s Witch Watch may court controversy as all good films do. This is especially true with remakes as most of them fail to live up to the original. This is not the case, in my opinion, with the 2018 Suspiria remake. I should start off by saying that I am a big fan of the original and Dario Argento’s "Three Mothers" trilogy and initially viewed the remake with a bit of skepticism, however, I now prefer the 2018 version of Suspiria to the original 1977 version (sorry, Dario). While the original was beautifully colored and shot which was Argento’s trademark at the time, the remake is an entirely different beast. Clocking in at over two and a half hours, its much longer than the original and due to that, is able to flesh out the story much more. In Suspiria, Susie Bannion (Dakota Johnson) arrives in 1977 Berlin in hopes of being accepted to the exclusive Markos Dance Academy, led by Madame Blanc (one of three roles played superbly by Tilda Swinton). Shortly before her arrival, another student of the academy, Patricia (Chloe Grace Moretz), visits her psychotherapist, Dr Klemperer (Lutz Ebersdorf), where she confesses that she escaped from the school as the teachers are actually a coven who worship a trio of ancient witches called The Three Mothers – Mother Tenebrarum (mother of darkness), Mother Lachymarum (mother of tears) and Mother Suspiriorum (mother of sighs). Across town at the academy, Susie is accepted and immediately starts working under Madame Blanc. The two form an almost instant-bond and much to the chagrin of the other students, Susie is given a starring role in the upcoming performance. As practice for the show commences, strange deaths begin happening at the academy and Susie herself is plagued with nightmarish visions each night. When Dr Klemperer arrives to investigate Patricia’s claims, the entire film dances its way to a shocking and unexpected climax. This is one of those films that gets better and clearer with every viewing, it does nothing to detract from the original, while at the same time elevates the story to new extremes.
DAY 27 - WITCHING & BITCHING
Legend has it that witchcraft began in a cave in Zugarramurdi, Spain when witches called forth the great He-Goat, Akerbeltz, who then took human form and joined their rituals. The Basque Witch Trials were said to have defeated them but if today’s Witch Watch is any indication - they still reside there, alive and well, today. The 2013 horror comedy, Las Brujas De Zugarramurdi or as it is known in English speaking countries – Witching and Bitching, revolves around two robbers, a young child and a hostage who travel through the small village on their way across the border to France. While on the road, they hit an old woman, when they go to check on her, she disappears but not before covering them in the strange powder she has in a bag around her neck. Not knowing what to do, they continue on their journey, only to come across the old lady’s daughter, Graciana, begging for a ride home. Overcome by guilt for hitting the old woman, they agree only to find themselves trapped in a crumbling mansion overcome by witches who plan on feeding the child to their ancient goddess ( a Venus of Willendorf-figure like you’ve never seen her before) in hopes of ushering in a new era of power for the witches. When Graciana’s daughter, the seductive Silvia, falls for one of the robbers, the witch’s plans are put into jeopardy. This film became an instant favorite upon first viewing. I have heard it compared to What We Do In The Shadows but for witches and I couldn’t agree more. Las Brujas De Zuggaramurdi is fast-paced, hilarious, witchy and at times, gross – exactly the criteria needed for a great Witch Watch film. Highly Recommended!
DAY 28 - THE CRAFT (1996)
Don’t look now but it’s the bitches of Eastwick. You honestly didn’t think we would go through the entire Witch Watch list without mentioning the quintessential 90s film, The Craft, did you? Starring Fairuza Balk, Rachel True, Neve Campbell and Robin Tunney, The Craft brought the teen witch archetype to the forefront when it was released in 1996. It all starts when the completely unrelatable Sarah (Robin Tunney) moves to a new town and instead of watching daytime TV all day, starts at a new school. Once there, she meets a bunch of assholes - including Chris (Skeet Ulrich) who offers to let her watch his football practice (That. Is. So. Tempting.) and his friends - before meeting the real stars of the film and the only girls you’d actually want to hang out with - Rochelle (Rachel True), Bonnie (Neve Campbell) and everyone’s favorite ‘worst witch’ all grown up, Nancy (Fairuza Balk). The rumors are all true too - the three of them are witches, or at least aspiring ones, and they introduce Sarah to their all-powerful deity. Manon. The trio have been looking for a fourth member to complete their coven and knowing Sarah is the one, invite her to join. That’s when magic really starts happening - Sarah makes Chris fall in love with her, Bonnie becomes a beauty, Rochelle destroys a racist bully classmate, Nancy stops being poor white trash and the four of them strut through the schoolyard in slow motion to cool 90s jams. Nancy truly excels at the witch thing (and is still the coolest girl none of us will ever be friends with) and starts becoming more powerful by the day. She is the real hero of the story as she takes out predatory stepdads and wannabe rapist jocks with no remorse and snappy dialogue. Sarah can’t handle how cool and powerful Nancy is, so she tries to turn the other girls against her and wants to leave the coven. After all the good she has accomplished, Nancy can’t just sit back and let Sarah undo it all. So, when all else fails - Witch War! After 24 years, The Craft never gets old and is one of the films we can mimic word for word as it plays. I keep hearing murmurs of some cheesy sequel that includes none of the original cast and straight up recycles quotes from the original in an attempt to get fans of the 1996 film to watch it, but we’ll stick with the original.
DAY 29 - THE WITCHES (1966)
We are getting close to the final films in the Witch Watch list and today’s film is another Hammer Horror, 1966’s The Witches. Joan Fontaine stars as Miss Gwen Mayfield, a British schoolteacher who leaves Africa after a horrifying experience with a witch doctor. She returns to England to teach in a small village of Heddaby, sure that her days of dealing with the supernatural are behind her. Once in Heddaby, she meets Alan and Stephanie, members of the most prominent family in the village and the ones who hired her. Alan likes to dress like a priest though he isn’t one as it brings him comfort. Heddaby has no church as it was destroyed centuries ago and they never bothered to rebuild it ( I support this method) but that doesn’t stop Alan from sitting around a bunch of religious relics listening to church organ music all day. Two of Miss Mayfield’s students, Linda and Ronnie, have a fledgling relationship that everyone in town seems to discourage. Linda’s herbalist grandmother, Granny Rigg, forbids them from seeing each other but like all kids do, they sneak out together other until Ronnie ends up in a coma. Soon after, a doll Ronnie gave Linda is found beheaded with pins in it and Stephanie tells Miss Mayfield that someone is just having a dabble in witchcraft. As soon as Ronnie comes out of the coma, his mother takes him and flees the village. Shortly after, his father is found dead in the lake. As Miss Mayfield investigates his death, she starts ruffling feathers with the town folks until she wakes up in a mental hospital with no memory of anything since being in Africa. As she slowly starts to recover, memories of witchcraft in the village plague her every thought and she vows to get to the bottom of it.
DAY 30 - BURN WITCH BURN (1962)
Ladies and gentlemen the motion picture you about to see contains an evil spell used by practitioners of witchcraft for centuries. These words are spoken before a protective spell is cast against the backdrop of a blackened screen before the start of today’s Witch Watch, Burn Witch Burn aka Night of the Eagle (1962). Professor Norman Taylor teaches a class about superstition and witchcraft, on how it doesn’t exist if you do not believe in it. They’ve recently moved to town after a stay in Jamaica and are the topic of discussion amongst the other teachers. Nathan’s wife, Tanzy, can’t stand having to interact with the stuffy, jealous wives of the other professors. Professor Taylor’s academic career is off to a success and though he’s new in town, is in line for a promotion over the other teachers who have been there for years. He becomes suspicious of his wife when he starts finding charms pinned to his clothes, as well as fetishes and witchcraft artifacts around the house. He confronts her and she admits to using conjure spells to affect their future. Tanzy then comes out of the closet as a witch much to her husband’s horror. He scoffs at her, belittles her beliefs as supernatural stupidity and demands she gives it up. Norman proceeds to burn anything related to witchcraft that his wife owns and immediately thereafter his luck begins to change. He starts receiving strange calls, almost gets run over by a truck, is accused of raping an unhinged student, is held at gunpoint by her boyfriend and his life generally begins to crumble. Maybe ya shouldn’t have demanded your wife give up witchcraft after all, huh Norman? Burn Witch Burn is one of three films based off the 1943 novel "Conjure Wife," the other two being 1944’s "Weird Woman" and 1980’s "Witches Brew" aka "Which Witch is Which?".
DAY 31 - PRACTICAL MAGIC
Did you hear about that weird Owens family? I hear they’re witches that eat chocolate cake for breakfast, dance naked at sabbats and jump off the roof to fly every Halloween! I also hear they can’t keep a man to save their lives. In the final Witch Watch for the Halloween season, 1998’s Practical Magic, the Owens women are cursed. It all started long ago when a pregnant witch named Maria Owens was exiled from the town to a small island on the coast of Massachusetts. There she waited for her lover, who would never come and alone she died, heartbroken, but not before casting a spell on herself to never fall in love again. As all witches know, spells can be funny things – they have a life of their own and sometimes have unintended consequences, as did this one. The Owens women can certainly fall in love and they do, it’s just whatever man they fall in love with dies an untimely death. Francis and Jet Owens know this all too well, as because of the curse, their glorious life of midnight margaritas and dancing under the moon, is now one of caring for two ungrateful nieces as they are left orphans. Their nieces, Sally and Gillian, couldn’t be more different: Gillian is a fiery red head who lives passionately and spends her entire life in love, while Sally, a dour brunette, swears off love, joy and happiness early on in life. Sally shuns witchcraft and hates being part of the weird family in town. Tired of her shit, the aunts cast a spell on Sally so that she will find love, and it takes a binding of molasses to do it! It actually works – Sally falls madly in love and has two beautiful children. Unfortunately, everyone thinks a curse won’t affect them and when Sally’s husband heads to an early grave, she is shocked and dismayed. Gillian is having her own relationship problems as she dates a disgusting pig of a man that she has to drug every night so she can get a little shut eye. It’s going to take the Owens sisters to come together and embrace their magical legacy, if they ever hope to find happiness. Will they ever break the curse? Find out in Practical Magic!
AND THE WINNERS ARE!
ABOUT SI MANDRAGORA
Si is a Gardnerian high priest operating in Flagler County, FL. A practitioner of various kinds of witchcraft since adolescence, he now runs Mandragora Magika, creates occult art for people, grows all kinds of plants but mostly in love with the poisonous variety. Si holds a degree in Graphic Design from the Art Institute.