I know that I said that I would not be posting stand alone 31 Nights of Horror posts but this movie was just so stinking delightful that I can’t help myself! I recently saw a trailer for the new film adaptation of this Roald Dahl classic & for some reason, I thought that the Angelica Houston version was the newer one. To my surprise, it was the only one and I had never watched it before. What?! I’m a huge fan of the book & in 9th grade I placed first in a dramatic speech competition with the Grand High Witch’s convention tirade 😂 I was more Carol Channing than Angelica Houston, probably because I’d never seen the movie! Obviously, I had to check it out & was not disappointed.
The Witches is a story about a young, recently orphaned boy’s (Luke) encounter with a group of witches while on holiday with his grandmother. His grandmother is a stogie smoking badass who tells Luke all about witches & how they hunt & kill children. She even has her own account of a run in with the Grand High Witch that cost her a finger when she was a girl. While they are pretty good at disguising themselves as ordinary women, their purple eyes, square toed shoes & scalp rash can give them away if you’re paying attention. Luke is skeptical until he is accosted by a woman who offers to give him a snake, seeing her glowing purple eyes immediately gives her true identity away & Luke alerts his grandmother.
Shortly after this, grandmother falls ill & the doctor recommends a trip to the sea side. Their stay coincides with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children convention (actually witches) & we get our first peek at the Grand High Witch (Houston) who uses the name Eva Ernst. Grandmother recognizes her but can’t remember where from, Eva recognizes her as well though & subjects her to a series of misdeeds.
While his grandmother is sleeping, Luke takes his pet mice to train in a conference room at the hotel only to be trapped under the stage while all the witches of England plot to kill all the children in the country. The witches remove their shoes to reveal their stump feet, their scalps are patchy & red under their wigs & they’re all around hideous. For the 90’s, the special effects aren’t half bad & I could see my younger self being pretty terrified.
Eva reveals a potion that she’s concocted that turns anyone who injests it into a mouse. It’s Formula 86 Delayed Action Mouse Maker & the witches plan to buy up all the candy shops in England so they can disperse it to the population. Eva demonstrates on another boy staying at the hotel, Bruno and Luke when he is inevitably discovered.
Bruno & Luke can still talk, they make their way back to Luke’s grandmother who obviously totally believes them & doesn’t assume she’s gone senile 😂 They plot their revenge & lace the witch’s banquet soup with Formula 86 giving them a taste of their own medicine. Unfortunately this does not turn Luke back to a boy but he seems content being a mouse.
I thought it was a really fun, well cast adaptation that didn’t skimp on the plot. Mr. Bean (not as Mr. Bean) plays the persnickety hotel manager which was hilarious & adds some comic relief to a fairly tense movie. I’m not sure this is really a kid’s movie, turning children to mice & stamping on them is pretty gruesome. It’s so good though, check it if you haven’t seen it. I’m definitely adding this one to my annual film rotation. The actual new film is being released later this month starring Anne Hathaway, Octavia Spencer & Stanley Tucci – I can’t wait 🧡