If there’s one thing Luke’s (JASEN FISHER) grandmother Helga (MAI ZETTERLING) really detests, it would have to be witches. According to Helga, witches are the vilest of creatures, with their purple-tinged eyes, stumpy feet concealed by sensible shoes, and baldheads covered by itch-inducing wigs. The sole mission of witches, per Helga, is to rid the world of the children, and she speaks from experience, having lost one of her fingers to a witch as a wee one. In fact, one of her best childhood friends was not only abducted and murdered by a witch; the poor girl was then sentenced to a purgatory of feeding ducks in a Currier & Ives style, sofa-sized painting. Flash-forward through the untimely deaths of Luke’s parents, and Helga’s diabetes diagnosis, the pair decide to take a much-needed seaside holiday at the Hotel Excelsior. Chalk it up to poor inter-generational travel planning; the resort just happens to be hosting all of the witches in England who just happen to be convening under the auspicious title of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. Luke stumbles into one of their closed-door sessions where the Grand High Witch (ANGELICA HUSTON), in an accent of indeterminate Eastern European origin, reveals her diabolical plan of franchising sweet shops that sell laced chocolates that turn kids into mice. After being caught by the witches, Luke learns first hand that life as a talking rodent is not the toy car joyride depicted in STUART LITTLE. With it’s hideous make-up effects, MONTY PYTHON-like gross out humor, and dark puppetry courtesy of JIM HENSON, THE WITCHES skews closer to a Grimmâ€™s fairy tale than your typical saccharine-sweet family outing.
The little girl who gets trapped in a painting
The removal of the wig and mask from the Grand High Witch at the meeting
The witches kicking off their shoes
The aftermath of the witches ingesting the tainted soup
this film still haunts me to this day, as scary as the revealing scene was, and oh my god it was to the point that i couldnt sleep after i watched that film for about a week, it was more the idea that i could get trapped, grow old and then die in a painting, and NO ONE could save me! i know it was marketed as a childrens film, especially as it was based on roald dahls book, but come on, tell me that you wernt catatonic after watching it!
Filmed at The Grand Hotel, Scarborough, UK just two hours’ drive from where I live!