By Dominic O’Brien
This week, something wicked this way comes with the release of Rob Zombie’s The Lords of Salem. To commemorate this twisted tale of modern day witches, Dominic O’Brien has come up with a list of the ten best films containing witchcraft. So grab your pointy hats and wooden brooms as we delve into some spooky delights.
Of all the films on this list to contain witchcraft, Dario Argento’s beautiful nightmare is one of the best. An exclusive dance school in Germany hides a hideous secret … Soon girls start disappearing during the nights and it’s up to American student Sarah to find out why. With Argento’s keen eye for beauty and violence, and Goblin’s haunting assault of a score, this is truly a one of a kind film.
Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)
A slightly left field inclusion, this cutesy Japanese animation – from the legendary Studio Ghibli – is an utter joy to watch. While it’s never overtly evil, this is still one of the best films on the theme of magic. Based on Eiko Kadono’s book of the same name, this Hayao Miyazaki film might be a tad sugary sweet for those craving a slightly darker tale. Barring its more light-hearted elements, the story is easy to digest and its animation is still wonderfully easy on the eyes.
The Craft (1996)
Inspiring a generation of adolescents to start their own coven, The Craft is a mid 1990s treat full of interesting moments and a fantastic grunge soundtrack. Written and directed by Andrew Fleming, it feels very much like a companion piece to the first Scream film. Its smart and witty script is full of nods to pop culture, while its set piece moments still show up many modern supernatural features.
Drag Me To Hell (2009)
After his adventures with the original Spiderman trilogy, Sam Raimi finally revisited his horror roots with this kitsch horror. Drag Me To Hell is the perfect example of why you should never refuse a gypsy witch a bank loan – more often then not it leads to demonic curses and talking goats. Although it veers into outright comedy at times, there is still something genuinely terrifying about the visions that Christine encounters during the course of the film.
A classic silent movie feature from Danish director Benjamin Christensen, Hexan details the extent individuals through the ages have gone to conduct witch-hunts. But do witches exist or is it all down to superstition and mental illness? Told in a four-part structure and ranging from factual evidence to bizarre reconstructions, this is still a uniquely disturbing but creative feature.
The Witches (1990)
Based on the Roald Dahl book about a young boy who gets turned into a small mouse by a group of grotesque witches, this 1990 Nicholas Roag feature is deliciously twisted and retains nearly all of the book’s darker moments (minus the downbeat ending). With some fantastic animatronics by The Jim Henson Company, this is yet another witchy treat that will likely scare even the most hardened adult.
Night Of The Eagle- AKA Burn With, Burn (1962)
This British horror film – adapted from Fritz Leiber’s novel Conjure Wife – is possibly the most terrifying on this list. It sees a psychology professor learn that his wife has started practicing witchcraft in their home. Angered by his wife’s insistence on using charms, the professor burns them all only to find his daily life begin to crumble around him. Filled with spine-tingling moments of suspense and scrumptious cinematography, director Sydney Hayers crafts a tale of a disturbing nature.
Hocus Pocus (1993)
One of those rare Disney treats that dares to be different and tackle a slightly darker subject matter. This time it’s the resurrection of the three Witches known as the Sanderson Sisters by a local town virgin, Max. It’s then down to him, his sister Dani and local girl Alison (along with immortal cat Binks) to stop the Salem Witches from taking over the town. Bette Midler turns in a comical performance as Winfred Sanderson, being equally camp and evil (as all the best villains are).
Witchfinder General (1968)
Classic horror actor Vincent Price turns in one his best performances in director Michael Reeves’ British classic. Price plays Matthew Hopkins, a Witchhunter in 1645 England, who imposes a reign of terror on a small East Anglian town. With its period setting and horrifying moments of Witch burnings, Witchfinder General is a film that will leave an impact on all who view it. Is this the best British horror made? Quite simply put, yes it is.
Halloween III: Season Of The Witch (1982)
A little seen cult classic and one that has earned its lauded cult film reputation. Deviating from the previous film’s subject matter, Halloween III instead focuses on a completely new story. A local toy company is using witchcraft and fragments of Stonehenge in their Halloween masks. Soon these masks start to kill their wearers and its up to Dr Challis (Tom Atkins) to find the cause of these murders before the end of Halloween.
The Lords Of Salem is available to buy on Blu-ray and DVD Now.