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02.06.2015by: Jake Dee

Top 10 Witch Flicks!

So, who's planning to patronize SEVENTH SON this weekend? Come on now, I know some of you out there are looking to adopt this odd looking bastard-child of sword-and-sorcery movies. More power to ya! The reunion of Maude (Moore) and The Dude (Bridges) should be good enough for a laugh if nothing else, right? Right! But that's not the only good thing to come out an early February release that our man Arrow gave a tepid 5/10 to, oh no. Julianne's Mother Malkin has us given us reason to think long and hard about, if not the scariest, some of our most favorite movies about wicked witchcraft. Not the sexiest witches mind you, which we listed two years ago, but the best and absolutely most distressing. Wait no longer friends, crack it up above to peep our Top 10 Witch Flicks!

#10. LORDS OF SALEM (2012)

Man oh man, Rob Zombie is almost a good filmmaker. Almost! After parabolically peaking a decade ago with THE DEVIL'S REJECTS, an undeniably sharp decline in quality and originality has been a sad trend in the macabre rocker's subsequent films. That said, a minor blip in the upward direction came courtesy of his most recently helmed flick, the 2012 puritanical witch-hunt LORDS OF SALEM. Not a great flick, but definitely a bounce back after the tepidly met HALLOWEEN renditions that all but killed the newfangled franchise. LORDS OF SALEM, while uneven and a bit dormant toward the end, at least made a valiant attempt to offer us something new to the age-old witchcraft subgenre. No, not Sheri Moon's tits!

#9. WARLOCK (1989)

So...what do you call a male witch? Julian f*cking Sands, that's what! Real shite, WARLOCK - written by David Twohy (RIDDICK) and directed by Steve Miner (FRIDAY THE 13TH 2 & 3) - often gets a bad rap by its sheer association with its drossy, brain-numbing sequel. But make no mistake, the '89 OG is, by virtue of a spotty release almost three years after it was produced (its company went bankrupt), a rather underrated little chiller. Uniquely, we don't often see the male counterpart to the countless wretched-women-witches in film, which is a nice variation on the theme. As for Warlock, which literally translates to "oath breaker," such a dubious distinction is reserved rebellious types who stray from the coven in pursuit of their own evil intentions. The Fabio hair counts!

#8. SEASON OF THE WITCH (1972)

Nope, not the 100% forgettable Nic Cage sword-and-sorcery farce, it's instead high-time we salute the great George A. Romero's 1972 psycho-horror joint SEASON OF THE WITCH. Also known as HUNGRY WIVES, there's no secret that the flick as a whole is far too long and self-indulgent for its own good (130 minutes), but as in every Romero flick, there's rutilant flashes of brilliance that cannot be denied. For instance, this isn't really a witch movie at all, instead a gut-wrenching portrayal of a woman's psychological erosion, to the point where she actually believes herself to have been transformed into a true Wiccan member. Anxiety, paranoia and fantastique wrack the poor girl's psyche in one of the more overlooked horror film character studies.

#7. HAXAN: WITCHCRAFT THROUGH THE AGES (1922)

It all starts here boys and girls. 1922. HAXAN. What a weird ass motherf*cking movie! Broken into seven segments, the sweeping Swedish curio is a perplexing pastiche of slideshow, live-action, dramatization, documentary, etc...all based on the ancient teachings and traditions of witchery, paganism, dark and demonic forces dating back to the Middle Ages. It's a creepy f*cking flick, mainly for just how unspeakably bizarre it is, never fully tipping its hand one way or another over the veracity of the disturbing subject matter. Is it entertainment? Education? Both? Hell, even the producers of THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT named their company Haxan Films after this flick.

#6. WITCHFINDER GENERAL (1968)

We almost went with another pair of unheralded 60s witch flicks - CITY OF THE DEAD (1960) and BURN, WITCH, BURN (1962) - but in the end, Vinnie Price as WITCHFINDER GENERAL is too much of a pimp to omit. Also dubbed THE WORM CONQUEROR (can't decide which title is better!), this is a witch picture of a whole different stripe. You see, instead of any bona fide witches - male or female - being the primary foe in the film, my man Price rolls from village to village as a self-described witch arbiter, claiming any unstable woman he sees fit as a demonic abomination. He basically calls any chick he wants a witch, which justifies his brutal butchery immediately afterward. Killer premise, gory executions, and a horror legend at the center!

#5. THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT (1999)

No matter how big a case of cinematic blue-balls you consider THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT to be then and now - all tantalizing foreplay and NO cathartic cum-shot - its overall movie-going impact is irrefutable. Culturally, economically, technologically - BLAIR WITCH rewrote the rule book. A shoestring budgeted, found-footage megahit that struck a chord in the lexicon of pop culture - all done without ever actually showing the titular witch-bitch in question. Instead the movie is all about mood and paranoia, a constant mounting of dread that - through the shaky docu-style camera work, leaves you dizzily disjointed. Beyond that, the flick reinvigorated the found-footage trend that is still so rampant to this day.

#4. THE WITCHES (1990)

This one's a bit personal. Please tell me I'm not the only one who grew up in the 80s - utterly transfixed, tortured and more than mortified - by the endless HBO loop of Nicolas Roeg's THE WITCHES. Oh please dear. I mean it guys, this movie jacked me the f*ck up as a wee lad! And you know what? I think that, because I so often watched it alone as a kid, I felt just like the little boy in the twisted Roald Dahl story, where nobody would believe me even if I told them about the heinous goings on in that ill-fated hotel. And don't get me started on Angelica Huston's odious metamorphic horror...my lord! Come to think of it, I'm pretty sure I saw this one before THE ADDAM'S FAMILY, quite possibly making this my intro to Huston as an actress. First impressions, yo!

#3. SUSPIRIA (1977)

Just bathe in that gorgeous f*cking color why don't you, as only the maestro Dario Argento could so aptly splatter across the celluloid canvas. Frame it and hang it in the Louvre yo...shite's high art! SUSPIRIA, the esteemed-punk-rock-opera-of-unadulterated-witchery, not only still holds suit as Argento's crowning achievement - it's just the first chapter in a trilogy that also includes INFERNO and MOTHER OF TEARS. But it all starts here, when poor Suzy is recruited to partake in a dastardly Italian ballet company. Mystery, madness and a whole lot of neon follows suit...with a final revelation that, yes, the academy is simply a front for a rapacious coven of witches out for fresh blood!

#2. ROSEMARY'S BABY (1968)

I don't give a good goddamn how much you quantitatively consider ROSEMARY'S BABY a witch flick, Ruth Gordon's abject evil buried under a decrepit octogenarian facade is the stuff of nightmarish legend. Petrifying! All hail the great Roman Polanski for the masterful misdirection and knack for nuance he so deftly displayed in what's still interminably etched on the Mt. Rushmore of horror classics. A movie that, the more you watch it, somehow manages to actually get more unnervingly sinister. Shit seeps into your pores, sinks deep into your bones and if you're not as utterly walloped as Mia Farrow is by the final reel, you likely feel just as rabidly possessed as her satanic neighbors. Nothing short of brilliant!

#1. BLACK SUNDAY (1960)

Bava! What else need be said? The undoubted godfather of Italian horror, Mr. Mario Bava, was never a stranger in his career to wicked witchcraft and odious occult worship. And never has he so ghastly and wonderfully realized such a subject than in BLACK SUNDAY, a progenitive genre piece that many, many films and filmmakers are forever indebted to. Any way you chop it, BLACK SUNDAY is a rule-writer! For all you youngens, the plot concerns a vengeful witch who crawls out of the grave with her trustily ghoulish servant...doing so with intentions to gorily supplant her lookalike successor. Legendary scream queen Barbara Steele plays the spirited witch-bitch in question, imbuing the flick with as much verve as her fearless leader. Bava, bravo!

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