The Witch

Witchy Movies for Halloween Vibes All Year

Are you looking for that special autumn feeling even though it’s sweltering outside? These movies capture the witchy, wonderful spirit of Halloween. They all feature either good witches or witches that are very good at being bad.
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Witchcraft has gone increasingly mainstream in the last decade, but there’s a proud history of films about witches that go far beyond the “wicked witch” trope. In these movies, witches are the heroines—or at least the villains you can’t help rooting for. How many have you seen?

Mary and the Witch’s Flower (2017)

You’d be forgiven if you thought that Mary and Witch’s Flower was a Studio Ghibli movie. It was actually the first movie by Studio Ponoc, led by former Ghibli producer Yoshiaki Nishimura. This charming animated movie follows a little girl named Mary Smith who lives with an elderly relative in rural England. Bored and lonely, Mary ends up finding a magical flower that grants her the power of magic—but only for a limited time.

There’s a lot more to it than that, but I don’t want to give the plot away.

The Craft (1996)

The Craft was such a huge movie for a certain type of girl in the 90s. There’s a reason that the quote, “We are the weirdos, mister,” has become so iconic. Starring Robin Tunney, Rachel True, Neve Campbell, and the unforgettable Fairuza Balk, The Craft treads on darker territory than many of the other films on this list. Despite that, it’s an empowering and surprisingly complex movie that holds up more than 25 years later.

We were lukewarm on the sequel, which forgot a lot of what made this movie such a cult classic.

Nightbooks (2021)

Okay, so the witch in Nightbooks isn’t the hero, but Krysten Ritter’s performance is so wonderfully campy that I couldn’t resist including it. I wish there were more horror films for kids, especially if they’re this good. Produced by Sam Raimi, Nightbooks is imaginative and occasionally scary enough that little kids might want to watch it with the lights on. This is the movie that the tepid remake of The Witches wishes it was!

Read More: 80s Fantasy Movies: Ranking Those Wonderfully Creepy Childhood Classics

The House with a Clock in Its Walls (2018)

Similar to Nightbooks, this movie proves that it’s possible to make creative, scary movies for family audiences. Director Eli Roth (Hostel) and writer Eric Kripke (Supernatural) are no strangers to the horror genre, but they tone down the scares to a tolerable level for kids in this movie. It’s based on one of my favorite books from when I was a kid, and aside from a little bit of excess slapstick from Jack Black, I think it does John Bellairs justice. Sure, Cate Blanchett’s character is supposed to be 80 years old, but she gives such a wonderful performance as the purple-loving witch that I can’t be mad at it.

Teen Witch (1989)

Let’s be clear: Teen Witch is not a good movie. But we’re here for a good time, not a long time—right? Robyn Lively stars in the girl version of Teen Wolf movies as a fifteen-year-old who finds out that she has the power to shape reality to her will. This movie will live in infamy because of the “Top That” rap scene, which is so cringe that it comes back around to being hilarious. Teen Witch was a dismal flop at the box office—seriously, it made less than $30,000 on a $2.5 million budget—but it’s gone on to become a cult classic.

The Witches of Eastwick (1987)

Cher, Susan Sarandon, and Michelle Pfeiffer are at their best in this movie, which costars Jack Nicholson as the literal devil. It’s a wickedly entertaining movie based on a novel by John Updike and directed by George Miller. The accidental coven of three frustrated women in a small New England town falls under Daryl Van Horne’s spell. As in The Craft, their newfound powers spiral out of control. Fun fact: Bill Murray was originally cast in the role of Daryl Van Horne before deciding to drop out.

The Witch (2015)

The Witch is undoubtedly the darkest movie on this list. Robert Eggers’ horror film is a disturbing descent into nightmare. Anya Taylor-Joy steals every scene as Thomasin, the daughter of Puritan settlers who sees her family torn apart—both figuratively and literally. Accused of witchcraft and eventually left alone on her remote farm, Thomasin’s story has been embraced by some viewers as a feminist victory. I’ll let you decide if it’s better to “live deliciously.” If nothing else, The Witch proved that Anya Taylor-Joy had the potential to become one of her generation’s greatest acting talents.

Sleepy Hollow (1999)

In what is arguably Tim Burton’s last good movie, Johnny Depp plays a neurotic Ichabod Crane versus the infamous Headless Horseman. Stylish and delightfully goth, Sleepy Hollow features four different witches. There’s Ichabod’s mother (played by Burton’s one-time muse Lisa Marie), the innocent Katrina Van Tassel (Christina Ricci), Lady Mary Von Tassel (Miranda Richardson), and one more that I won’t spoil in case you haven’t seen this movie. If you’re curious, you can read an interesting take on the witches of Sleepy Hollow over at Ghouls Magazine.

Spirited Away (2001)

The witch in Spirited Away is a fascinating character. Widely considered to be one of Hayao Miyazaki’s best films—and the movie that made Studio Ghibli a household name in the West—Spirited Away follows Chihiro on a strange, magical journey. At first, the audience might assume that Yubaba is the villain of the story. After all, she looks like an evil witch! But according to Mari Natsuki, the original voice of Yubaba, that wasn’t what Miyazaki intended.

“When I voiced for the original film, I thought the role was a villain, and I was prepared to act accordingly. But director [Hayao] Miyazaki said, ‘Yubaba is putting all her efforts to protect the bathhouse. She is not a villain,’” Natsuki said.

Bell, Book, and Candle (1958)

Bell, Book, and Candle is a wonderfully stylish movie that pairs Kim Novak and Jimmy Stewart. While it’s not quite the cinema classic as the other film they made together, Vertigo, it’s worth a watch. Novak plays a witch who casts a spell on her neighbor (Stewart) to make him fall in love with her. There’s just one problem: he’s already engaged. The other wrinkle in their romance is that when witches fall in love, they lose their powers. The movie inspired Bewitched, but at least Samantha Stevens didn’t have to completely give up her identity, you know?

I Married a Witch (1942)

The other primary inspiration for Bewitched was this movie starring Fredric March and Veronica Lake. The story begins when Jennifer and her father, Daniel, are burned at the stake in Salem. Fun, right? Their souls are imprisoned in a tree until 1942 when a lightning strike frees them. Jennifer (Lake) is determined to torment the descendant of the Puritan who sentenced her to death, but things don’t quite go as planned.

Hocus Pocus (1993)

Weirdly enough, Hocus Pocus begins almost the same way as I Married a Witch. The Sanderson Sisters are witches who come back three hundred years after they’re hanged. Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy might be the villains of this movie, but they’re also the best part of the movie. Like several other films on this list, it was a disappointment at the box office and a dud with critics. However, non-stop showings of the movie on the Disney Channel during spooky season helped Hocus Pocus find a legion of ardent fans. The movie became so popular in the decades after its release that a sequel is now scheduled for October 2022. You can see the trailer here!

Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)

This Studio Ghibli classic is stinkin’ adorable—and surprisingly deep, too. The most basic read of this movie is that a cute little girl delivers stuff on a flying broomstick. However, there’s more to it than that. Kiki is a character in the middle of major changes as she tries to find her way in the world. While some witches on this list lose their powers permanently, Kiki’s experience is more complicated than that. Ultimately, it’s about the end of childhood, with all the sacrifices and gifts that brings.

Read More: Ranking the Studio Ghibli Films from Worst to Best

Practical Magic (1998)

Practical Magic is one of my top ten favorite movies of all time, and when I grow up, I want to live in a beautiful Queen Anne house overlooking the ocean, wear enormous hats, and eat cake for breakfast just like the aunts. Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman star as sisters who will do anything for each other—even murder. The trailer for this movie is atrocious, but if you’ve seen the movie, then you know that it’s not just a generic rom-com. It’s wild to me that this movie was poorly received by critics and didn’t make back its budget at the box office, considering that it has become such a cult classic.