In honour of the new stills that have surfaced for Season of the Witch, we've put together a collection of great movie witches as we prepare to see if Claire Foy's unnamed girl can make the cut. But things don't look hopeful after the mammoth release delay and the fact it's now been rescheduled for a January release period, the traditional; dumping ground of unloved films.
Season of the Witch sees a heroic knight (Nicolas Cage) and his closest friend (Ron Perlman) returning home from the Crusades after many years fighting to find their world destroyed by the plague. Convinced that a girl accused of witchcraft is responsible for the devastation the church elders command them to transport her to a monastery where monks will perform an ancient ritual that will rid the land of her curse.
Strangely, the film looked more interesting around the time of the first trailer. After the filmmakers went back and did whatever it was, it appears a lot less fun. It also runs the risk of becoming too choppy, with visible seams and style changes, like last January's The Wolfman. But you can't tell too much from these stills. January 7 will reveal all in the US while the UK will get to form its own opinion a week later on January 14.
It's not every day we get a movie on this subject. Given such an opportunity, I feel compelled to round up my personal favourite cinematic witches. Check them out below and and let me know in comments who your own favourites are.
Travelling back to 1939, our first mention must go to the stooped, green-skinned Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz, as played by Margaret Hamilton. Her black attire, complete with a pointed hat has come to represent a witchy archetype of wickedness and she was such an enormously intriguing character that a series of books has been written about her, retelling the tale of The Wizard of Oz from her perspective. This has also been adapted into a hugely popular stage show.
Jumping forward a few decades to 1984 we next meet a good witch. Neverending Story's The Childlike Empress (Tamara Stronach) resides in the Ivory Tower at the heart of Fantasia. Her link to the realm is so great that should she die, Fantasia would cease to exist. But she does not command a political system not does she enforce her authority.
Another leap to 1993, we have a trio of witches made for Halloween fun. The Sanderson Sisters of Hocus Pocus are the typically evil trio who kill children and steal their life force to make themselves young and pretty. Winifred is played by Bette Midler, Sarah is played by Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy is Mary.
More evil witches bring us to 1996's The Craft. Convinced that new girl Sarah Bailey (Robin Tunney) is the missing fourth member to their coven and with her involvement they'll achieve great magical power, Bonnie (Neve Campbell), Nancy (Fairuza Balk) and Rochelle (Rachel True) convince her to join them. But power comes at a high price and their rituals begin to go too far with some more power-hungry than others.
Miranda Richardson was the witchy villain of 1999's Tim Burton gothic romp, Sleepy Hollow. Controlling Christopher Walken's dead, headless horseman by hiding his head she unleashes his fury onto her town. But playing with angry spirits isn't always advisable: on his return to hell, the horseman takes her along with him.
We come to perhaps the most obvious choice next (for me, at least), the witches of the Harry Potter series. Brought to our cinematic attentions first in 2001 the brave and evil witches with untold skills should not be forgotten. Namely Hermione Granger (Emma Watson), Minerva McGonagall (Maggie Smith), Molly Weasley (Julie Walters), Ginny Weasley (Bonnie Wright) and Bellatrix LeStrange (Helena Bonham Carter).
More fantasy witches of the bad kind brings us to 2005's The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Tilda Swinton is the evil White Witch who holds Narnia frozen in the Hundred Year Winter.
Our penultimate onscreen witch is a voodoo priestess. She was introduced to us in 2006's Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Tia Dalma, played by Naomie Harris. Known to be Davy Jones' lover and before the Brethren Court confined her to a human body she was the goddess Calypso, she returned in the following sequel, At World's End.
And finally Michelle Pfeiffer as Lamia, the nasty witch in Stardust. The witch-queen and her two sisters are similar to those of Hocus Pocus and attempt to cut out the heart of our heroine Yvaine to gain immortality and regain beauty.