Halloween is almost here! The holiday has always been one of my favorites. My mom used to make me very elaborate, creative costumes such as Medieval Princess, Movie Star (complete with gold sequins and lamé), Pirate, Tinkerbell – I did it all! The trick-or-treating obviously was the best part, and now that I’m of an age where it’s looked down upon to knock on stranger’s doors asking for free food, I do things like drink wine, eat big bags of candy, and watch scary movies on my couch. It’s just as fun, I swear…
Anyway, with the spirit of Halloween in mind, I thought I’d compose a list of my favorite fictional witches. Scariness was not a factor in my picks – only my infallible opinion.
The Sanderson sisters, Hocus Pocus
It’s just not Halloween for me without a viewing of Hocus Pocus. Luckily for yours truly, ABC Family plays it about a million times during the month of October, so I’m always set. Anyway, the Sanderson sisters (Winnie, played by Bette Midler; Mary, played by Kathy Najimy; and Sarah, played by SJP) are killed by an angry mob in the 1500’s after kidnapping a kid to steal her life force so they can be youthful and beautiful forever (isn’t that always the way?). Winnie casts a spell right before they’re killed, though, allowing them to be resurrected every Halloween whenever a virgin lights their black-flamed candle. Binx, their victim’s brother-turned-adorable-black-cat, guards their cottage for 300 some years to make sure this never happens. In present day Salem, hijinks ensue when too-school-for-school-or-trick-or-treating teen Max lights the candle. The sisters are resurrected and all hell breaks loose and it’s TOTALLY AMAZING. Also, this is the best SJP has ever looked or will look, counting SATC.
The ladies from The Craft
As a teenager I was completely obsessed with this movie. It was on rotation in my VCR, along with The Crow. Pre-The Mentalist Robin Tunney stars a Sarah Bailey, a troubled teen interested in Wicca. She moves in with her dad and takes up with a group of girls rumored to be witches, led by Nancy (a pre-anything ever Fairuza Balk). Things are all good until Nancy starts getting lame and abusing her supernatural powers. Then Sarah has to show her what’s what. Neve Campbell and some other lady are also witches drawn to Nancy’s evil ways. While not necessarily a good movie, it’s a lot of B-status fun that every single girl of my generation has seen at least once during her high school career.
Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty
Girlfriend was so fly she gave herself her own nickname (“Mistress of All Evil”) and people didn’t make fun of her for it. Impressive.
The Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz
Man this lady gave me some scary dreams when I was young. Margaret Hamilton’s witch has grown on me over the years, though – perhaps due in part to my love of black ensembles and big noses.
Willow Rosenberg from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel
Who doesn’t love a pre-CBS Alyson Hannigan? Willow (along with Xander) meets Buffy the first day of 10th grade at Sunnydale High School. Initially shy and nerdy, after Willow discovers her magical abilities, she becomes a confident, kick-ass (and a little evil during the 6th season) witch. Aside from her newfound confidence, she is also extremely smart. And just adorable – what’s not to love?
Elvira, Mistress of the Dark
My interest in witches started long before The Craft with Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. For those unfamiliar (for shame), Elvira isn’t technically a witch, but was a late-night weekend B-grade horror movie host for Elvira’s Movie Macabre. She has a California Valley-girl personality, a big black bouffant, tight dresses, and huge knockers. The girl also knows her way around a make-up mirror – yowza. I’m not ashamed to admit she was my first girl-crush at the tender young age of 5.
Ursula, The Little Mermaid
Ursula is the fabulous Cecaelia sea witch in The Little Mermaid who helps “unfortunate souls” (i.e. LOSERS) to better her own life. She is a big fat, fierce force to be reckoned with that reminds me a lot of one of my favorite John Waters’ performers Divine. I feel like her and Maleficent would get along really well.
Circe from Odyssey
In Homer’s epic, Odysseus and his crew come upon Circe on her island of Aeaea. She then turns his crew into a bunch of pigs, something she dabbles in. Odysseus, though, uses a magic potion given to him earlier by Hermes and is able to evade Circe’s spells. Then they shack up and party on her island for a year, before she helps him get home. Nice lady.
Kiki from Kiki’s Delivery Service
Kiki is an adorable 13-year-old witch with a cute cat named Jiji. She has some questions about who she really is and faces some challenges about her innate talents. After questioning her identity, she is faced with the challenge of saving her friend Tombo and is able to gain back her confidence. She also works part-time at a bakery. DELICIOUS.
Grandmama from The Addams Family
Grandmama is the matriarch of the Addams. She knows her stuff too: she creates potions, spells, hexes, and tells fortunes. Not much is known about her other than that, and that she’s Morticia’s mom, but she has one of my favorite lines in the movie:
Dr. Pinderschloss: The human spirit, it is a hard thing to kill.
Grandmama: Even with a chainsaw.
So true, Grandmama. So true.
Notably absent from my list are the witch from Bewitched because I’ve never seen it, and the ladies from Sabrina, the Teenaged Witch and Charmed, because those shows suck.