Our Ten’s List
Before Vin Diesel can eradicate all of the witches this weekend, I thought it might be nice to pay our respects to the best of the worst, the creepiest and the coolest of the cinema coven, and highlight our favorite performances in a supporting occultist role. Here are ten witches to get swept away by…cause they like brooms. They’re witches. Anyway, moving on:
Top Ten Wicked Witches
10. Sarah Sanderson, Hocus Pocus
Played by Sarah Jessica Parker
In Disney’s Hocus Pocus, you have three dastardly dames to choose from for the top spot. The obvious front runner is Better Midler as the eldest Sanderson sister and the leader of the brood. My pick, instead, goes to the youngest and the ditziest, Sarah Sanderson, who uses her alluring charms to lure children into danger, and then steals their life essences. No messy roasting and devouring here, just some cool and calculating PG friendly Succubus action. Sure, she’s the “dumb blond” of the group, but she’s not slaving away over a stove to get her dinner, now is she? And to top it off, the performance here is so enchanting, I didn’t realize it was Sarah Jessica Parker in this role, who I usually avoid like the creepy dude giving out apples all Halloween long. Job well done!
9. Sukie Ridgemont, The Witches of Eastwick
Played by Michelle Pfieffer
Once again, three witches are in contention, and with Cher and Susan Sarandon as your competition, Michelle Pfieffer had to really step up her game. When three divorcees try to conjure a little excitement into their lives, they end up with a horny and crude bachelor…who happens to be Satan, played by Jack Nicholson. When the newly empowered witches discover the secret behind his game of seduction, they decide to flip the script and go Salem on his ass. While each witch is capable and wonderful, Sukie is by far the strongest and always feels like she is in the same league as our goaty suitor, even before she learns his true identity. And Michelle Pfieffer plays a woman scorned to perfection, meaning old Scratch’s bacon is well and truly cooked for trifling with these crafty ladies.
8. Nancy Downs, The Craft
Played by Fairuza Balk
Four teens turn to witchcraft to overcome their outsider status in high school. You know, the time-tested strategy when winning a talent contest is not in the cards. OK, you know what, witch themed movies, you need to stop trying to win by platooning me. This time there are four witches in the running. Sure, Neve Campbell was at the height of her popularity when this film came out, but I have to give the nod to Fairuza Balk for three reasons. One, she seems to be the only member of this cadre of disaffected teens who actually looks like she is enjoying herself, even when the eye of newt hits the fan. Second, she has the body of work: even at a tender age, she was training to play a movie witch alongside Tim Curry in the straight to TV flick, The Worst Witch. Third…I’m just plain afraid that she may actually be in control of the dark arts, and do not want to mess with her. So…she wins!
7. Kiki, Kiki’s Delivery Service
Played by Lisa Michelson/Kirsten Dunst
Young Kiki is a witch in training who uses her broom riding skills to start a delivery service, because witches got to eat (children) too. This Miyazaki film is a calculated punch right in the feelings, as everything about this flick is completely endearing. The fantastic worlds of Studio Ghibli always capture the imagination, and the odd assortment of misshapen characters are a riot. Add an endearing and motivated young lady to the mix, and you have a recipe for magic. Oh, and she has a talking cat. How is this movie not number one on the list?!
I’m going Japanese witch-movie-hipster on this puppy, cause I saw it before it was re-dubbed with big name Hollywood stars. Given the two versions, Lisa Michelson’s earnest and spirited performance is the superior of the two takes on this character, if you want my opinion. And if you don’t want my opinion, why the hell did you even click on this link!?
6. The Evil Queen/ Snow White’s Stepmother, Snow White: A Tale of Terror
Played by Sigourney Weaver
I think every successful Hollywood actress longs to play the wicked witch. Feared and desired, completely self sufficient, murdered by a younger and hotter woman…well, maybe not that last part. But while you’re alive, you’re queen shit and everyone had better say you’re the fairest in the land, or else.
While made for TV, I have to ask the question, whose TV? This film is dark! I have seen R rated movies that didn’t go as depraved as this gem. Sigourney eats the role up, much like the evil Queen eats up Snow White’s entrails…Oh wait, you didn’t know that part? Yeah, after the huntsman brings her “Snow White’s” remains, she totally cooks and feasts on that shit. This version stays almost too close to the Grimm brother’s version, full of blood, sex, violence and revenge. You know, kid stuff. Sigourney is the perfect Evil Queen, as she is ravishing and powerful in her true form, and a child’s worst fears as the kindly witch who delivers the fateful apple. That is some range!
5. Queen Bavmorda, Willow
Played by Jean Marsh
An ancient prophecy (cause nobody is silly enough to believe a recent prophecy, am I right?) tells that a baby girl will cause the downfall of the powerful and despised ruler, Bavmorda, a witch queen who has held the land in thrall for generations. The child is found by a dwarf magician-in-training named Willow, who teams up with a disreputable swordsman to fulfill the fateful prophecy.
Bavmorda is the ultimate empowered female. A gang of dudes try to overthrow her, and she calls all of them pigs. And they are pigs…cause she uses a spell to turn them all into four-footed, truffle loving snout beasts. All except for Willow Osgood, who attempts to turn her to stone by throwing his magic nuts at her. She grabs those acorns, and grinds them into powder. Holy hell! I think I just stumbled upon the secret meaning of this film! Bavmorda wrecks shop and takes names all film long, even totally crushing her PC friendly counterpart in a synchronized rain-screaming contest. The only thing that can possibly stop her is a baby, and ain’t that shit right? Damn babies, ruining the fun for everyone. Man, I hate babies…
4. Morgana Le Fey, Excalibur
Played by Helen Mirren
First, I did not know that this role was played by Helen Mirren. I would have bumped this up into the top three, just because Helen Mirren is HELEN MIRREN! So, my apologies. I certainly do love Excalibur, perhaps the best film adaptation of the legend of King Arthur ever made. Nope, correction, it is definitively the best version, screw you Richard Gere…and sorry Sean Connery. That also means I have seen most of Helen Mirren naked, which means I have to re-evaluate some crucial parts of my life.
OK, back. This sword and sorcery epic is amazing, start to finish. Arthur is great. Guinevere is great. Merlin is so great, he breaks time. Lancelot…well, he’s okay. I never cottoned to the pretty boy who tried to steal his best friend’s wife. The best part is Morgana, the jilted but resourceful sister of Arthur, who seduces her brother and produces Mordred as his foil…as a back-up plan! She doesn’t even care about kings and kingdoms, she wants Merlin’s power, and she leverages her secret to get it. Sex as a weapon may be frowned upon, but try to frown when this uber witch has sealed you in crystal under a tree to dream for a thousand years.
3. The Witch King of Angmar, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Played by Lawrence Makoare
Flaming sword? Check. Dragon steed? Check. One of Sauron’s rings of power? Check. Crippling handicap that can only be exploited by a weird tag team of gender non-conformity and hobbitry. Check?
As the leader of the Nazgul, once powerful human kings who were subverted into servitude to the dark lord, The Witch king is a fearsome foe bent on returning the ring of power to its former master. He also is the chief of Sauron’s armies. Beyond being thousands of years old, he’s not really much of a witch, but since his honorary title is The Witch King of Angmar, he makes the list. If only he didn’t have such a glaring blind spot in his defenses, he might have been higher on this list…
2. The White Witch, Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe
Played by Tilda Swinton
As the villainous White Witch, Tilda has locked the magical (and not very subtly Christian) kingdom of Narnia into a perpetual ice age, frozen most of her enemies into statues for her own private topiary, and done away with Christmas. I can’t find a fault with any of those things. She manages to turn one of the prophesied saviors of the kingdom into a traitor almost immediately, and even murders the great lion Aslan (cough, JESUS CHRIST, cough.) And she accomplishes all of these things by scrupulously following the dictates of the prophecy. She’s literally doing her job, as it was assigned. And this means EVIL? So much for the illusion of free will! Was she expected to resign upon learning that her role was the bad guy? I guess I just don’t get allegory…or religion, but I repeat myself.
The Wicked Witch of the West, The Wizard of Oz
Played by Margaret Hamilton
The Wicked Witch of the West was a ruby-slippered shoe-in for the title of best Wicked Witch. This character has captivated the imagination of audiences since her creation, even leading to a hit series of books, a musical, and a stand alone movie. For all of this, Margaret Hamilton’s original portrayal of the character in 1939’s The Wizard of Oz is still the greatest. Delightfully menacing, and legally in the right for claiming her departed sister’s possessions, tWWotW dominates the film, and is perhaps the second most recognizable cinema villain behind Darth Vader. That’s some rarefied company right there. If the two ever came to blows, I would actually bet on the witch, as an army of flying monkeys is miles better than platoons of storm troopers who can’t aim for shit. We’ve already seen her dispatch a were-lion, a life-size voodoo doll, and an axe wielding automaton, so I don’t think a Sith Lord is out of her reach. Hey JJ, can we get that movie made?