16 Fantastic Films About Witchcraft (Before Harry Potter)

Witches make for fantastic cinema fodder...

Clare Simpson

Contributor

24 - CORRECT SIZE - Rosemary's Baby

Witches are fantastic cinema fodder – they can portray all of the evil, the nastiness and the spite of being a supernatural villain. This aspect of witchery is seen in films such as The Witches and The Wizard of Oz. Then we have the other side of the coin – supposed ‘witches’ as victims during all of the witch finding perpetrated by various characters like Matthew Hopkins in Witchfinder General. Witch finding was a terribly cruel and vicious operation in which thousands of people were killed for no good reason other than to satisfy bloodlust and religious zeal.

There are a wide form of films about witches out there. This starts with Benjamin Christensen’s silent movie Häxan, through to the art house with Dreyer’s Day of Wrath. There are a lot of horror films like Mark of the Devil and Mask of Satan that deal with witchcraft up to teen movies like The Craft. Real life witches (or Wicca as they are known) will balk in horror at many of the depictions shown of witchcraft in this list but there is a rich and fascinating heritage of witch-based movies which deserve discussion.

 

16. The Witches Of Eastwick (1987)

Warner Bros

Warner Bros

Cher, Michelle Pfeiffer and Susan Sarandon play the three witches in this adaptation which is loosely based on the late great John Updike’s book. They have different home circumstances but they have the fact that they have no men in their lives. They meet every week to talk about their ideal man. After one of these gatherings, a strange man called Daryl Van Horne arrives in town and assumes different guises to each of the three women. They melt like butter in his arms. He thinks he has control of the women, as he is the incarnation of the devil albeit a not very sinister one. But things spiral out of control and the women prove they are no slouches when it comes to dealing with old Lucifer himself.

Terrific acting really carries the movie through with the three female leads acquitting themselves admirably, and Jack Nicholson does not have to work hard in this film – his ‘horny old devil’ Lucifer turn is a role tailor made for his talents. The cast must have had a real ball playing these roles. The film is very witty and funny and it blends different genres seamlessly – drama, suspense, the supernatural, romance and horror. It has a wonderful score by John Williams which enables the excellent pacing of the film. It is honestly a very hard movie to dislike due to the relish with which it is acted. It is not as good as Updike’s book, but then adapting an author with as much gravitas as Updike is no mean feat, and the film takes an interesting stab at it.