Monday, June 1, 2009

Witches, The (1989)

Directed by:
Nicolas Roeg

Too bad all kids movies aren't like this! Angelica Huston, who actually won Best Actress awards from the Boston Society of Film Critics, Los Angeles Film Critics and National Society of Film Critics for her performance in this (and her impressive work in THE GRIFTERS), stars as Eva Ernst, the Grand High Witch. She plots to turn helpless children into mice using contaminated chocolate and heads over a whole coven of witches at a beautiful seaside hotel, where a convention of witches is taking place. Young Luke (Jasen Fisher) discovers what they're up to, and is promptly turned into a rodent (along with another chubby kid)... Can he still stop them? Mai Zetterling is a real treat as the wise, cigar chomping grandmother (who's also an expert on witches) and Huston is delightfully wicked (and cruel!) in her role. Jim Henson's Creature Shop provided the special effects. Some parents objected to certain story points here (and in the Roald Dahl book this was based on), but they're morons. What better way to teach kids to not to take candy from strangers than to make that chocolate contaminated? What better way to teach them not to talk to strangers than by making the strangers ugly, child-hating monsters with purple glowing eyes? The ending of the book was a bit more grim and has been changed for the movie version, but I doubt many people will mind. It was Henson's last film project. He also served as the executive producer. Lovely photography and picturesque location work in Norway.

Score: 8.5 out of 10

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