“Real witches dress with normal clothes and look a lot like normal women. They live in normal houses and work in normal jobs.”– The Witches (translated from Portuguese)
Today’s post brings a very special and new column – apart from being one of my favourites.
I, Sel, bring you today on my Bright Side of the Moon, a movie that was part of my childhood and got me pretty scared for a while. Nevertheless, it never lost its number one position of Halloween movies.
Today we’ll talk about The Wiches.
Are you ready to disembark on a hotel filled with witches that like to exterminate little children?
No? Well, I recommend you to get ready, because this time, it isn’t an option: they are after us!
The Witches – About the Movie
The Witches is a fantasy and horror comedy movie from britain and USA released in 1990, based on the novel with the same title by the writer Roald Dahl. It was directed by Nicolas Roeg and starred by Anjelica Huston, Mai Zetterling, Rowan Atkinson, e Jasen Fisher.
As in the original novel, the story introduces evil witches who dress up as normal women and transform children in mouses or disappear with them somehow. And, amid all that, a little boy and his grandmother need to find a way to end their plans.
A remake is already on our hands, because it was recently released on the big screen the movie directed by Robert Zemeckis, produced by Alfonso Cuarón and, one of my favourites, Guillermo del Toro – his movies are amazing, maybe I should make a post only about him in the future.
Besides that, the movie has Anne Hathaway as main witch – will I appear too much thrilled if I say that my expectations raised to 100% when I knew she was part of the movie cast? – and the cast also counts with Octavia Spencer – another actress that clearly every movie she’s a part of is good – Stanley Tucci and Chris Rock.
To those who never watched it: Luke, a 10 year old boy, is taken to England by his grandmother Helga after his parent’s deaths. When they get to the hotel, he finds out that a strange convention happens there. He realizes it’s a witch convention, in which they are making plans to transform all children in the world in mouses.
Little Luke, who ends up discovered by the witches in one of the meetings, becomes a victim and ends up being transformed in a mouse along with another boy – called Bruno Jenkins. Even like that, the boy decides to stop – along with his grandmother and Bruno – this fancy plan to be put into practice, making the spell turn against its caster.
This isn’t all: the 1990’s movie is absurdly highlighted by the cast choice, obviously giving all the merit that Anjelica Huston deserved.
Some Curiosities About the Movie:
- It was the last movie in which Jim Henson worked before his death that year – and it’s the last movie produced by Lorimar Productions and the last one based on Dahl‘s material before his death (in 1990);
- The first part of the movie was filmed in Bergen, Norway. A huge part of it was filmed on Headland Hotel, on Newquay, Cornwall;
- During filming, Rowan Atkinson caused a calamity worth of Mr. Bean when he left his bathroom sink taps open on his room. The flood destroyed a grat part of the production equipment, which was on the floor under his;
- During that time, Huston was dating Jack Nicholson, who frequently called the hotel and sent big flower bouquets, making everyone excited;
- The director Nicholas Roeg edited scenes he thought would be too frightening for children after seeing his son’s reaction to the original cut. Can you imagine, if the edited version is already creppy, how it would be without editing?
- Makeup effects for the Great Witch played by Huston took six hours to be applied and another six to be removed;
- The prostetics included a full facial mask, a back hump, mechanic claws and a broken clavicle. Huston described a scene with a monologue she had to do that “I was so uncomfortable and tired of being envolved in rubber under hot lights for hours that the lines stopped making sense to me and all I wanted to do was cry”;
- The green mist used extensively at the end of the movie was oil based and blurred the contacts on Huston’s eyes, that had to be regularly washed with water by a specialist;
- Roeg chose a sexy attire for the character and emphasized to Huston that the Great Witch should have sex appeal at all times, even with her grotesque appearance in certain movie scenes. We can say that her looks as the great witch wasn’t very pleasant;
- Roald Dahl got angry because Roeg changed his original ending on the script. As a conciliation gesture, Roeg offered to film both versions, the book version in which Luke keeps on being a mouse, and the happier version, in which he is transformed back into a human, before making his final choice. When watching the sccene loyal to his book, Dahl was so touched, he cried while watching. Nevertheless, Roeg decided to go with the changed ending (which I, Sel, thank him to this day) making Dahl demand to remove his name from the credits entirely and threaten a marketing campaign against the movie.
Warner Home Video released the movie for the first time in VHS and LaserDisc in 1991.
The second release (and first re-release) was in VHS and for the first time in DVD in 1999.
It was released in Blu-ray in Spain only in 2017. And, at last, only in July 2019, a release in Blu-ray by Warner Archive Collection was anounced and released in Augst 20, 2019.
That reminds me of a friend who has a huge Blu-ray collection – Hello, Bruno, do you have this classic on your movie collection or is it still missing?
The Witches well received by critics (clearly a successful classic): the movie has a rare 100% score on the movie critics website Rotten Tomatoes, obtaining a final score of 7/10.
Its consensus says: “With a delicious perverse performance by Anjelica Huston and imaginative puppets by the creature store of Jim Henson, the somber and witty movie by Nicolas Roeg gets the writing spirit of Roald Dahl like very few adaptations”.
Roger Ebert gave the movie 3 out of 4 stars, calling it “a intriguing, ambicious and inventive movie, and almost deserves to be watched only by the obvious pleasure of Anjelica Huston in playing a completely uncommitted villain”.
My choice today wasn’t only the 1990 version for not having watched the remake, but also for knowing the power of Anjelica’s acting and the character personality she built.
I remember very well that one of the things that always got me excited to watch The Witches when I was younger, was the craving to see her acting as the great witch – her character has always been perfect to my eyes. She wasn’t only evil, but also grotesque, which matched her personality perfectly.
I also remember the story of the child who had been placed inside a painting and spent the rest of her life in there. After all, solitude would be the worst punishment, once she could watch everyone, but no one noticed her on the painting.
It wasn’t just everyone’s acting that was incredible, but also the script and its adaptation.
And that’s why this movie was chosen for my first post of the Bright Side of the Moon on Halloween week: who doesn’t like a good children’s movie with witches, right?
We, from the Sisterhood of the Moon, definitely like it, what about you? Leave your comment telling us what you thought of the post or the movie and, if you watched the remake, tell us what you thought!
And never forget:
“Witches spend their time plotting to kill children, chasing the miserable child as a hunter chases a bird in the forest.”– The Witches (translated from Portuguese)
Bright Side of the Moon on Lune Station
Once this is the debut of this blog category, I’ll also leave Hek’s and Art’s post so you can read them too and tell us if you’ve watched those movies or not!