The Witches (1990) Review: Family Friendly Horror

“Saving the world from witches is a tall order for a boy they’ve turned into a mouse!”

Synopsis: A young boy stumbles onto a witch convention and must stop them, even after he has been turned into a mouse.

The Witches (1990) Review Poster
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Calamity Brains:

The Witches is a family horror adaptation of Roald Dahl’s book, and holds up surprisingly well. It’s a good level of creepy for children and young adults, but isn’t boring for the adult audience. The heavy reliance on real mice and rats for effects, as well as some decent-looking puppets, means that the movie aged fairly well. And though the acting is a fairly mixed bag, it’s never too distracting from the story.

The movie starts off strong, with Luke’s grandmother warning him about witches and relating how to spot one. We then follow him and Grandma (Mai Zetterling) to a seaside resort where they run afoul of hundreds of witches, and pay the price. While Jasen Fisher as Luke is a weak actor, it’s less distracting once he is turned into a mouse, and Grandma and the High Witch (Anjelica Huston) are excellent. The Witches also features a pre-Mr. Bean Rowan Atkinson, which is a lot of fun.

The one thing I found most disappointing about The Witches was the ending, which deviates from the book. Apparently they filmed a version more faithful to Roald Dahl’s classic, but it didn’t test well with audiences, so they went with the ending you now see attached to the movie. I think it’s a shame, since the book has a great finish – and one that’s more appropriate for a children’s horror flick.

Still, even with the changed ending and some poor actors, there’s a lot to enjoy about this family-friendly tale of evil witches and magic.

Calamity Brains’ Rating: B-
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Calamity Brains

The Codex Mortis Horror Hosts (Ludwig von Stroodle and Calamity Brains) are married and live in West Virginia. Pretty much everyone who sees their cabin agrees that it would be an ideal setting for a horror movie. Their pets include a black widow spider, a smart dog, and a stupid dog. When they aren’t watching horror movies, they can be found at whiskey festivals, Renaissance fairs, and board game nights.

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