The best witch movies of all time, ranked
Want a good witchcraft movie? Whether you’re looking for horror, comedy, romance, or something that crosses genres, here are the 10 best witch movies of all time, ranked!
What makes witch movies so fascinating? Perhaps it’s the mystical aesthetic, with figures gathering around candles, tarot cards and handmade amulets as incense smoke billows around them. It is perhaps the feminist rebellion inherent in witchcraft, which enables marginalized people to rise up against patriarchy to forge their own lives and identities. Or maybe it’s wish-fulfillment for viewers who secretly wish they could psychically push the guy who sexually assaulted them out of a third-story window.
Whatever the draw, witchcraft itself has seen a revival in recent years. Pagan traditions like Wicca, traditional witchcraft and devotional polytheism are flourishing, with in-person and online communities exploring new ways to worship nature, bring myths to life and work magick together. Famous witches like Pam Grossman and Amanda Yates Garcia revitalized the arts of astrology, tarot, and ritual, ushering in a new generation of witches. It’s a great time to be a wizard, and there’s plenty of cinema to help us celebrate being a wizard.
A quick word on ranking. Although real-life witches are a diverse group, most Hollywood witches, with a few notable exceptions, tend to be white. This is partly simply because the word “witch” originated in Britain, and different practitioners of magic around the world have their own terms for what a white English speaker might call a witch. However, that’s mostly because Hollywood itself is still too white. Hopefully, as more witchcraft movies are released, this list and others like it will become more diverse.
That said, to the cinema!
ten. Hocus Pocus (1993)
It’s hard to find a witch who doesn’t dress up Hocus Pocus around Halloween. In 17th century Salem, a group of witches called the Sanderson sisters are put to death for sucking the lives of the town’s children, but the older sister Winifred (Bette Midler) places a curse, saying the sisters will be resurrected if anyone lights the black flame candle in their home on Halloween night. This is precisely what happens 300 years later, when a group of children unwittingly frees the sisters. Although the movie revolves around the kids trying to banish Winifred and her sisters, it’s hard not to cheer on the witches, as they are by far the most interesting characters. Watch this movie (and its upcoming sequel!) if you like your extra corny sorcery.
9. The Blair Witch Project (1999)
Sometimes you want a witch movie that features a witch as the charismatic protagonist. Other times you want a movie that has a witch like faceless, indescribable evil! If so, then The Blair Witch Project is the witch movie for you. Three documentary filmmakers venture into the forests of New England in search of the infamous Blair Witch, a spirit that is said to be lurking. The little independent film became a smash hit and sparked a new era of “found footage” horror.
8. The wicker man (1973)
Okay, I know this one isn’t generally considered a witch movie, but hear me out! The wicker man, starring Christopher Lee, tells the story of a sultry detective who travels to a private island to investigate the disappearance of a young girl. Once there, he finds the inhabitants of the island strangely indifferent to the fate of the girl and hostile to his investigation. He also discovers a thriving fertility cult led by Lord Summerisle (Lee), complete with folk magic, hobby horses and naked ritual dances. Although no one in the film calls themselves a witch, many rituals and spells originate from real British folklore and survive to this day in some witchcraft traditions.
seven. Bell, Book and Candle (1958)
Gillian Holroyd (Kim Novak) owns a shop in Greenwich Village, which serves as a front for her witchcraft. When Gillian meets mild-mannered Shep (Jimmy Stewart), she decides to put a love spell on him, not least because he’s engaged to his former rival. However, Gillian runs into trouble when she begins to develop genuine feelings for Shep. Not only does falling in love with him complicate things emotionally, but it means she will lose her powers. Novak and Stewart are adorable in this 50s comedy classic.
6. practical magic (1998)
Sally and Gillian Owens (Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman) are part of the Owens clan, a long line of witches who live under a terrible curse: anyone they fall in love with will die. After Sally witnesses the power of the curse, she decides she will never fall in love again, and it takes the teamwork of Gillian, their old witch aunts, and Sally’s two daughters to break the curse to good. Based on Alice Hoffman’s novel, practical magic is warm, funny and full of heart.
5. Eve’s Bayou (1997)
Eve Batiste (Jurnee Smollett) is a 19-year-old girl living with her family in 1960s Louisiana. When Eve catches her father having sex with a family friend, the family begins to fall apart. , until a shocking revelation about her father’s continued infidelity leads Eve to seek help from a Hoodoo practitioner named Mozelle. This Southern Gothic film, starring Samuel L. Jackson and directed by Kasi Lemmons, is as much a psychological study as it is an exploration of Hoodoo magic and divination.
4. The witch of love (2016)
Watching this hallucinogenic movie, you’ll swear loud and clear that it was shot in the 60s. Young and beautiful Elaine Parks (Samantha Robinson) is, by her own admission, “addicted to love”, and when the Normal flirtation fails her, she turns to witchcraft to make men fall in love with her. She moves to a quaint village (the movie was shot in rural Arcata, California) and goes to town with all the men there, luring them into what turn into fatal encounters. Elaine and her fellow witches also provide the viewer with true Gardnerian and Alexandrian rituals, since director Anna Biller has done her research beforehand.
3. Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)
Kiki is a 13-year-old witch-in-training, and when the witches turn 13, they get on their broomsticks and fly off for a year of solo training in the magical arts. Leaving at midnight on a full moon, Kiki and her sardonic black cat Gigi jet off to a quaint seaside town, where she starts a plane delivery service and makes lifelong friends along the way. .
One of Hiyao Miyazaki’s most beloved films, Kiki’s Delivery Service has something for everyone: adults, children, witches and non-witches. Kiki and Gigi make an absolutely adorable duo, the plot is heartwarming without being obnoxious, and Kiki’s mom’s kitchen is the apothecary all witches wish they had.
2. The witch (2015)
A Puritan family in 17th century New England decides to leave their plantation and strike out on their own, living a devout Christian lifestyle on a farm in the middle of the forest. After the family’s baby goes missing, however, they become increasingly paranoid that witches are hiding in the woods and gradually turn against their teenage daughter, Thomasin.
Based on real New England folk tales, The witch will scratch that itch for rustic spooky folklore and good old devil worship (which, contrary to what anyone will tell you after being Wiccan for ten seconds, has historically been part of some streams of witchcraft). Plus, the movie has a kind of weird happy ending, which is beautifully shot and surprisingly feminist.
1. The job (1996)
Are you even really a wizarding media lover if you haven’t seen The job? This 1996 cult classic tells the story of a group of teenage girls attending a Catholic school in Los Angeles. When newcomer Sarah joins their clique, she discovers that they are witches trying to form a coven so they can activate their latent magical powers. At first, the girls use their magic to get revenge on various racists and misogynists who make their lives miserable, but the coven begins to backfire when their powers spin out of control.
I’ve been to quite a few occult shops in my day, but none of them have ever been so exquisite as Lirio’s candle-filled shop in The job. Truly, every detail of this movie is lovingly rendered: Sarah’s crumbling mansion, the dappled forest where the girls work their first spell as a coven, the beachside ritual where Nancy summons the spirit, and more. Again. The filmmakers have hired a pagan consultant to help them with the girls’ spells and liturgy, which is why their rituals sound lovely enough to perform in person. Additionally, the cast and crew had paranormal experiences on set, including all the lights going out during the climax of Nancy’s summoning on the beach, so clearly a spirit there lent a bit of magic to this film.
What is your favorite witchcraft movie? What film do you put on to satisfy your desire for magic, spirits and candlelit rituals? Let us know in the comments!
(photo: Columbia Pictures)
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