Movies That Ruined My Childhood
Looking over our Top Ten Film Witches list, you may have detected a glaring omission. A famous and talented actress gave one of the singularly greatest turns as a witch and failed to make the list, despite deserving to place very highly. That actress was Angelica Houston, and that movie was The Witches, an adaptation of Roald Dahl’s book (I would say “children’s book” but we all know nothing he ever wrote was intended for children.) While it may not have made the list, it’s right at home in this section. Buckle up, kiddos, this is going to be rough!
The Witches (1990)
This film tells the adventures of Luke Eveshim, an American child whose parents die in a tragic car accident (see, Dahl’s decided to skip the foreplay and just get to dropping napalm all over his pre-teen audience.) He is sent to live with his grandmother in England, and shortly after arriving, he is attacked by a witch. It appears that Eveshim’s world is lousy with witches, and they try to murder children every chance they get. Dahl explains that children emit a special odor that is horrendous, and that can only be detected by witches. (This is obviously a creative liberty, as any sane person can tell you that children smell awful. If that makes you a witch, move over Tim Curry, cause that must make me the Grand Warlock!) He escapes the frying pan but quickly ends up in the fire when he vacations with his grandmother at a fancy resort hotel. It turns out their is a convention of witches staying at the hotel, including the Grand High Witch, played by Angelica Houston. His vacation is somewhat iffy from there on out.
Quite a Prescence
Angelica Houston knocks it dead as the Grand High Witch. She is imperious, menacing, gleefully macabre, and entirely at ease in her role. She just seems to wear the role like a second skin…
And Now We Get to Why This Movie is Terrible
That’s…quite some transformation. We’ve looked at some pretty gruesome witches this month, but that has got to be the mother of all prosthesis! Who the hell came up with these effects?! Oh, great. Jim Henson. Let me tell you something, kids, when Jim Henson and Roald Dahl decide to tag team your nightmares, it is all over for you. I love Henson’s The Storyteller, but every single episode of that show was a terror inducing suplex aimed at your children’s sense of well-being. Just freaking look at it!
So, we’ve got the casual misanthropy of Roald Dahl (which generations of parents continue to bafflingly remember as kid-friendly,) and Jim Henson, the artist behind Sonic the ScreamHog. Just wonderful. The price of renting this movie is $2.99 plus $80,000 for psychotherapy.
But Wait, There’s More!
So, this movie has some ghastly witches. I guess that’s what you would expect for a movie called The Witches. If that’s all you got, Dahl, I can handle it. Hmm? Something about mice? I’m getting a hazy recollection…
God dammit. You see, the Grand High Witch has a plan to turn children into mice by poisoning a chain of candy stores around the world. They even manage to turn our hero into a rodent. By throwing him to the ground, forcibly restraining him while screaming and cackling, and then trying to stomp him to death when he is a mouse. If you thought Ed Norton in American History X had films most brutal stomping, you’re in a for a treat. A poisoned treat. That’s the only kind this film deals in.
I Call It a Day
So that’s about the first 40 minutes of this film. I honestly can’t recall if I’ve forgotten the rest of the movie, due to the mind saving nature of trauma avoidance, or just straight up fled the room and never came back. I’m hoping it’s the latter, because I don’t want to be 85 years old and wearing diapers in a nursing home just to have the second half of this movie come flooding back in perfect clarity because the nurse asks me “chocolate or tapioca.” Perusing the Wikipedia page, it appears that Luke wins when he manages to poison all the witches instead. So a happy ending!