With the season 3 premiere of American Horror Story: Coven just a day a way, it’s hard not to think about witches and how far they have come in the world of horror. From the delightful wife and homemaker Samantha on Bewitched, to the vengeful and powerful witches from True Blood season 4, witches have been presented in different ways, and now it seems as though they are more powerful than ever. In honor of tomorrow’s season premiere, I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite witches in horror.
The Lords of Salem: The lords of Salem
Rob Zombie’s latest film The Lords of Salem showcased a more realistic look at witches. His coven wasn’t a group of sexpots; they were average-looking, ruthless, and evil. His witches weren’t preoccupied with their love lives and they certainly didn’t care about how pretty they looked. They were determined to wreak havoc on the people who wronged them, and they sought vengeance in a way that would make the devil proud.
Hocus Pocus: The Sanderson Sisters
The Sanderson sisters may have looked goofy and seemed harmless, but they once terrorized the town of Salem and its children. For the three witches, beauty is pain–just not their pain. In order to stay young and alive they had to take the lives of young children, and with their hypnotizing voices and book of spells they made it look easy.
The Witches: The Witches
The 1990 film was based off of the bestselling author Roald Dahl’s children’s book of the same name, and for any of you unfamiliar with Dahl’s writing–it’s pretty damn creepy. The females in The Witches weren’t pretty; they had sharp claws, no hair, and their spit was blue! The witches were more like demons and their life’s intent was to eat children. In the film one boy discovers their secret and is turned into a mouse, forcing him to figure out a way to stop the demon-women before it’s too late and he’s stuck in mouse-form forever!
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Willow
When television audiences first met Willow she was the awkward, nerdy side-kick to Buffy. She often provided her friend insight on a situation and was able to research things for the team. Over the years Willow’s interest in magic grew stronger–and so did her power.As the series progressed, Willow became a bonafide badass who struggled to control her power. Her desire for power became so strong that it almost consumed her, but in the end Willow learned how to harness her power for good.
The Witches of Eastwick: Alexandra, Jane, and Sukie
These witches were unlike the other witches previously mentioned: they were beautiful, they lived normal lives, and they used their witchcraft for love. The witches of Eastwick were a coven of three best friends who were unlucky in love. When a mysterious stranger comes into town, he seduces them and brings out their wild sides, making them realize their abilities. At first the women are excited about their powers; however, when lives are taken, they decide to stop. They soon learn that stopping isn’t so easy and they work together and use their powers again…but they use them for good.
The Wizard of Oz: The Good Witch and The Wicked Witch of the West
The land of Oz is filled with many different witches, most notably The Good Witch and The Wicked Witch of the West. The Good Witch, Glinda, is just that: she’s beautiful, kind, and she truly cares about the well-being of the people of Oz. She’s not to be feared, but The Wicked Witch of the West is evil and selfish, and will stop at nothing to get what she wants. Plus, she’s got flying monkeys! The witches were a perfect example of good versus evil, and each represented the choices that individuals must face in their daily lives.
The Blair Witch Project: The Blair Witch
If there was a town legend about a witch who would take children into the woods and kill them, I would probably stay out of the damn woods. However, in The Blair Witch Project a group of filmmakers are too tempted to unravel the mystery behind the town legend and they soon find themselves face to face with evil. The Blair Witch was menacing and terrifying, mostly because she taunted her victims and played with them without ever showing her face. Her attacks were drawn out because she wanted to make sure to weaken your physical and emotional state for the final moment before her full on attack, ensuring that you would be vulnerable enough for her to overpower you. Just remember: if you ever find a pile of branches strewn up together like a little doll–RUN!
Halloween III: Season of the Witch
The Halloween franchise took a step away from Michael Myers and his family-killing spree to focus on a macabre group of people practicing witchcraft to achieve their desires. These witches were primarily focused on gaining power and taking over authority on Halloween night. The men in the group of “witches” wanted to resurrect certain elements of Samhain and planned on terrorizing people with snakes and bugs. Oh, and lets not forget–they also wanted to kill children. What is it with witches and children?!
The Craft: Sarah, Nancy, Bonnie, and Rochelle
The Craft taught me that if everyone in school says a girl is an evil witch, she’s probably an evil witch. Unfortunately, for new girl Sarah she finds this lesson out the hard way when she allows herself to be a part of a group of outcasts that like to hold seances and perform spells. It turns out that Sarah is a little into magic herself and when she puts her powers together with the powers of her new girl friends, they can do amazing things together–like make a bully’s hair fall out, make a boy fall obsessively in love with you, and change the color of a traffic light with the blink of an eye. Eventually, things begin spiraling out of control when mega-witch Nancy takes a liking to having so much power and begins abusing it to harm others.
Suspiria: Helena Markos
When American dance student Suzy gets the opportunity to study the art at a prestigious academy in Germany, she jumps at the chance to fulfill her dreams. Little does Suzy know that the school is controlled by a coven of maniacal witches who begin killing off her classmates one by one. Eventually the timid dance student becomes aware of the situation when she discovers the coven of witches performing a ritual to kill her, and she finds herself in a harrowing predicament. The witches in Suspiria are clever and brutal in the ways they dispose of their victims, and they prove that they definitely aren’t the homemaker who twitches her nose to get things done.
Witches have appeared in different ways over the years in the genre, and each has their own set of intentions. While some crave power and control, others are looking for love and affection from those they desire most. Whatever their intent, or however beautiful or ugly they may be, the power that witches hold in the palm of their hands is frightening. Who is your favorite witch?