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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Movie #8: The Witches (1990)

"I hope nobody else is going to make me cross today."

Here's a "fairly scary" movie that over the years has left its mark on some children, if they see it at too young an age.


  • Rating: PG

  • Minimum Recommended Age: 8.5 (Common Sense Media: "Iffy for ages 8 to 9", Movie Mom: Kindergarten-3rd Grade)

  • Quality Rating: 77.5% (Common Sense Media: 4 stars, Rotten Tomatoes rating: 7.5)

  • Number of Lists Recommend: 6

  • Sex/Violence/Profanity:
    From IMDB:
    It is strongly implied a man is having a sexual affair with one of his co-workers.

    Common Sense Media:
    Scary witches, children in peril, including baby in carriage pushed down a hill (and rescued), Luke's parents are killed in an (offscreen) accident, which does not seem to bother him too much.

  • Main Child Character Age: 10

  • Running Time: 92 minutes

  • What does it have to do with Halloween? Nothing


A little boy and his kindly grandmother thwart the efforts of a coven of witches to rid Britain of children by turning them into mice.

Watch Out For

Common Sense Media:
Parents need to know that this story has a genuinely twisted flavor that some children will love and others will find disturbing. Luke is exceptionally brave and enjoys being a mouse (in the movie, he is changed back, but in the book, he stays a mouse). Children may be upset not only by the witches, but also by the death (offscreen) of Luke's parents and his seeming indifference to it.

The movie throughout is very frightening but on a children's level. There are many disturbing suggestions and special effects.

Luke's grandmother grandmother has long been fighting the witches and even has lost part of her finger in the struggles

Witches have unusual color-changing pupils in which one may see "fire and ice dancing" in the center

Luke's grandmother tells him about a girl named Solveg was given an apple by a witch and was trapped inside a painting for the next 54 years until she disappeared; during that time she grew old on the canvas just as she would have done in real life

The first witch Luke encounters tries to entice him with a snake

The witch keeps trying to entice Luke

Luke's grandmother falls ill with pneumonia

A witch with fiery eyes

The Grand High Witch reveals her face

The Grand High Witch uses her powers on a victim

The witches without their masks

The Grand High Witch uses her potion on Bruno Jenkins

The witches force Luke to drink the potion

A black cat threatens Luke, who is now a mouse

The Grand High Witch adjusts her mask

Another witch with fiery eyes

It is implied that the hotel manager is having an affair with one of his employees

A witch starts to turn into a mouse

Another witch turns into a mouse

Another mouse witch

The Grand High Witch is not very happy

The potion starts to work on the Grand High Witch

The Grand High Witch is transformed into a rat

Screencaps courtesy of newsie__nympho

Talk About It

Common Sense Media:
Families can talk about the notion of witches. Are you fascinated or disturbed by the idea of these strange women with magical powers? Why do you think most witches are portrayed as evil?

Of Note

  • Won National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress Anjelica Huston (1990)
  • Ranks #7 in AMC TV's Roald Dahl's Fantasy Movies list
  • It took Anjelica Huston eight hours of make up time to prepare her for her transformed role of "The Grand High Witch".
  • Most of the "Witches" in the meeting are not women at all but men in women's clothing (see 31:28 or 34:07).
  • The mice in the movie into which the boys have been transformed are played by rats and by puppets.
  • Felicity Dahl has stated that Roald Dahl never again requested someone for a role in his book after the producers of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971) denied his request to cast Spike Milligan as the title character. But he was ecstatic when Anjelica Huston was cast as the Grand High Witch, as she had been Dahl's personal favorite for the role.


At the Movies Review


Anonymous said...

It's only Solveig in the book, in the movie the girl's name is Erika.

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