Witches – gotta love ‘em! Throughout our time on this plane of existence, they’ve remained the embodiment of female power and sexuality. Their spiritual ties to nature, and the darkness looming within or without have long attracted the gaze of fearful men and intrigued parties. Their stories are in the annals of history and comics alike. Burgeoning witches conjure spells in charming coming-of-age tales, while myths of elusive enchantresses capture the hearts and minds of men and their empires. And lest you not forget the old crones who lure naive souls into their woodland abodes. These witchy archetypes and their offspring have provided countless stories for us to admire and admonish, and our thorny horror-loving hearts hold a special place for many of them. As spooky season has officially commenced, let us take some time to celebrate the women of the hour. From quirky to unholy, these are some of the most beloved and feared – the bestest – witches in film and television.
In the spirit of whimsical listicles, I’ve attempted to arrange our witchy wonders from the quaintest of all to the biggest badass. You might have opinions, but play nice, or it’s in the cauldron for you!
Quaint & Lovely:
Kiki (Kiki’s Delivery Service): Before Uber Eats, there was Kiki. In Hayao Miyazaki’s 1989 classic, teen witch Kiki moves to a bustling port city with Jiji, her cat familiar, to grow as a young woman. She shablams her way down hundreds of feet in the air and eventually stumbles into a job at a bakery. It’s here that she’s inspired to use her magical talents to develop a business of her own. What could be quainter than a lil’ witch delivering goods around town on a flying broom? Typical of many youths, self-doubt overshadows her self-worth, and so her magical abilities and delivery business are temporarily stunted. Yet, as most stories of blossoming adolescence go, a harrowing incident leads her to rediscover her powers and yes, dear reader, herself.
Sakura Kinomoto (Cardcaptor Sakura): The Mega-Man of witches, young Sakura stars in the anime series based on the popular manga in which she accidentally unleashes a set of mystical cards and discovers magical abilities of her own. Each card grants its wielder a different power, and Sakura is tasked with reclaiming them before less wholesome individuals do. With themes of inner strength and legacy, the story unfolds much like the JRPGs of yesteryear. In a word, unique!
Mary Poppins: The Crown Mother of Quaint, some might question whether Mary Poppins is a witch. To which I say, look at the evidence. Her flying broom? An umbrella. Manipulation of space and time? Check! And like mimosas at brunch, her enchanted bag is bottomless. Miss Mary Poppins flies in from some unknown dimension of etiquette and laughs, and she changes lives. Her approach to child rearing is stern yet welcoming, and her infectious whimsy unwinds even the most uptight of adults. She’s the white witch of London’s middle class.
Willow Rosenberg (Buffy the Vampire Slayer): Somewhat of a live-action Kiki, Willow is the resident witch of Slayer Buffy’s Scooby Gang. A meek soul expertly portrayed with nervous curiosity by Alyson Hannigan before she met your mother, Willow represents the quiet kids and outcasts looking for a tribe. Throughout the series, she came out of the closet both as a powerful witch and a queer woman during the decidedly less socially progressive time of the late 90s. Despite a speedbump as the Big Bad of Season 6, Willow Rosenberg is a beacon of light for misfits looking to find their way.
Sally & Gillian Owens (Practical Magic): Sally (Sandra Bullock) and Gillian (Nicole Kidman) serve up midnight margaritas and murder in this 1998 mood. Bullock’s dorky charm and Kidman’s electric sexuality are lightning in a bottle as the unlucky in love and polar opposite Owens sisters. Descendants of a long line of witches, the duo must contend with the repercussions of a 300-year-old family curse in which any man they love meets a tragic end. Gilly’s longing for this forbidden love leads her down a dark and wild path, which ends in the accidental murder of her abusive boyfriend via belladonna poisoning. Their story highlights critical themes of female persecution and resiliency, and nothing screams feminism more than sending your resurrected ex back to hell with your newfound coven.
Light & Dark:
Sabrina Spellman: Perhaps the most famous teenage witch, Sabrina’s two very different TV iterations toe the line between heaven and hell, and appropriately place her right in the middle of this list. As the star of the family-friendly Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Melissa Joan Hart inspired the resourcefulness in kids everywhere as she navigated classic sitcom hijinks with a magical twist. However, Netflix had other, less quaint, plans for Sabrina, and in 2018 adapted Archie Comic’s take on the character with The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. They flipped the script, and this devilish take on our headstrong heroine examined dogma and morality’s grey areas along with your typical teenage woes. These witches worship at the altar of the Dark Lord himself, for Satan’s sake. Less fluffy, more Buffy!
Endora (Bewitched): A monster-in-law to some, and mother monster to others, Agnes Moorhead commanded the soundstage as Endora in the 1960s sitcom Bewitched. Quintessentially elegant and eccentric, she only wanted what was best for her daughter Samantha (the fabulous Elizabeth Montgomery), which certainly did not include Sam’s marriage to the forever befuddled mortal, Darrin. Her timing as a troll was impeccable, tormenting her son-in-law at the most inconvenient moments and always getting the last laugh. A mother’s love knows no bounds, and for Endora, neither does her trickery.
Lafayette Reynolds (True Blood): The lone male on this list, Lafayette is the ultimate icon of HBO’s southern vampire drama. He’s a gay, vampire-blood-dealing short order cook revealed to be a powerful medium with innate magical abilities during Season 4, which is a lot to unpack. It was refreshing to watch the late, great Nelsan Ellis peel back the layers of a gay character like Lafayette and embody him with such ferocious humanity. His performance kept Lafayette off the chopping block through all seven seasons despite meeting an early end in the novels the show adapts. And anyway, who else on this list can make calling someone a hooker endearing?
The Coven (AHS: Coven): “Who’s the baddest witch in town?” This brazen line, uttered by reigning Supreme Fiona Goode (Jessica Lange) as she admires herself in the mirror, says it all. American Horror Story’s third season thrust us into the witchy underworld of present-day New Orleans and includes far too many outstanding characters and performances to single out just one or two. Within the walls of Miss Robichaux’s Academy, we have the previously mentioned Fiona Goode, a (literally) soulless and power-hungry baddie, her ruthless understudy Madison Montgomery (Emma Roberts), human voodoo doll Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe), theremin virtuoso Myrtle Snow (Frances Conroy), and even Stevie Nicks herself. Coven has a little something for everyone, and watching these women battle it out for Supremacy is wicked fun. The ladies also starred in the only AHS sequel season, so you know they’ve earned a spot among the greats.
Vanessa Ives (Penny Dreadful): She’s the antihero of the hauntingly beautiful Showtime series Penny Dreadfulwho spins a web of both good and evil. A witch – and possibly something more – of this mortal coil who never fully understands her powers or herself, Miss Ives is plagued with deep guilt and sorrow for simply existing. This force within Vanessa makes her a magnet for the evils of Dracula and Lucifer, and, ironically, it’s through them that she finally knows her true self and sees God. It is a profoundly tragic character arc, and while hopefully most of us can’t relate to having Dracula and Lucifer vie for our soul, we all wrestle with our versions of the darkness within.
Rita Repulsa (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers): She may be more of a joke than a terrifying force of evil, but Rita Repulsa is the most entertaining space witch you’ll ever meet. She emerges in full glam from a space dumpster after 10,000 years locked away and is ready for her closeup as the OG antagonist of the Power Rangers series. She’s got a killer fit complete with a Madonna-inspired cone bra, a sickening scepter that can transform her minions into threats of kaiju proportions, and bagged the ultimate space zaddy, Lord Zedd. All that’s missing is sponsorship from Advil, given her frequent headaches. Rita’s attempts at ruling Earth may fail time and time again, but it’s the thought that counts.
Winifred Sanderson (Hocus Pocus): Mirror mirror on the wall, who has the shadiest lips of all? Bette Midler’s performance as a resurrected centuries-old witch is a spooky season favorite– even if the movie received an untimely release date of July. It may be family-friendly Disney fare, but Winifred is a sadistic individual who tortures her victims and is hellbent on stealing children’s souls to reclaim her forgotten youth. She’s vain and petty with lips that would put Kim Kardashian to shame, and come to think of it; she also tyrannizes her siblings. Perhaps after Hocus Pocus 2, she’ll land a series on E!
Ursula (The Little Mermaid): Sea witch. Drag queen. Bombshell. The tentacled and scheming Ursula is a woman of many talents and cares not for the poor unfortunate souls who fall under her spell. She wafts through the trenches of the deep plotting to usurp Atlantica’s throne and tricks naive princess Ariel into relinquishing her voice in more ways than one. Ursula defines gaslight, gatekeep, girl boss: She’ll steal your voice, man, and kingdom. A special thank you to Ursula’s voice actor, the talented Pat Carroll, who just recently passed away on July 30th, 2022.
Marie Laveau (AHS: Coven): While the witches of Coven were considered one unit due to the sheer number of their ranks, voodoo queen Marie Laveau is in a league of her own. Angela Bassett brings natural charisma and attitude to the oft-fictionalized historical figure, and typing Laveau’s name into your keyboard will provide a treasure trove of reaction gifs for when you’re feeling some sort of way. Watching her butt heads with Supreme witch Fiona Goode is the stuff of legend, and a sequence in which the pair effortlessly take down an organization of witch hunters is classic AHS. Dedication to her community sets her apart from the devilish Fiona. Still, nefarious conditions in the fine print of her immortality pact with the underworld suggest Marie may have more in common with her rival than she’d care to admit.
Nancy Downs (The Craft): Fairuza Balk shines as the antagonist and star (sorry, Robin Tunney) of the 1996 witch drama The Craft. Nancy is hard to hate and easy to understand. In an iconic beachside sequence, she and her fellow Wiccans perform the ritual of Invoking the Spirit to reclaim their power after being ostracized and taken advantage of throughout their lives. Caving to temptation, she monopolizes the dark magics imbued upon them, and a black sheep becomes a true nightmare. Nancy gets messy as hell in a prime example of the adage “be careful what you wish for” – and that’s why we love her. With an iconic goth-chic lewk, a striking face, and a maniacal laugh, Nancy Downs has it out for all the men and women who stand in her way. Especially the men. Seriously, she offs her abusive stepdad and flings Skeet Ulrich out a second-story window.
Lilith (The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina): The oldest historical figure on this list; Lilith is Adam’s first wife and was expelled from paradise after refusing to live in subordination with him. She’s the original feminist, described by men since ancient times as a demon, succubus, witch…you name it, she’s been called it. Why so scared, boys? Michelle Gomez’s portrayal of Lillith, named Madame Satan on The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, is a delightfully twisted and comedic take on the mythological persona. As Lucifer’s second in command, she possesses Sabrina’s mousy teacher, Ms. Wardwell, to keep tabs on the prophesized young witch. Unaware of these circumstances, Sabrina sees her shy teacher suddenly transformed into a confident vixen, and the sexual innuendos she casually spouts will leave you laughing through tears. She’s evil, for sure, but in the end, this version of Lilith wants to dismantle Hell’s patriarchy and reign as its new queen.
The Incomparable Tilda Swinton: She is an ethereal presence, an androgynous figure who glides across the silver screen. She’s a changeling able to take on any form, be it the Angel Gabriel, Jadis the White Witch of Narnia, or an old man attempting to dismantle a coven masked as a school of dance. Tilda Swinton is probably not a witch and simply a talented actor, but that won’t stop her from topping this list as the most badass conjurer here. Her most vile role is that of Mother Helena Markos in Luca Guadagnino’s 2018 reimagining of Dario Argento’s Giallo classic, Suspiria. Markos is the self-proclaimed Mater Suspiriorum, an ancient witch and head of her coven who possesses the bodies of young women so that she may remain ageless. Depicted as a truly haggard old crone with the limbs of fetuses protruding from her own, she conspires underneath the film’s dance academy while waiting to strike at her next victim. You’d sooner vomit at the sight of her before you could let out a scream, and that’s a testament to Swinton’s power over the craft. We’re fortunate to experience the artistry of Tilda Swinton, and it’s always a pleasure to see what form she’ll take next.
That wraps up our homage to the wonderful witches of film and television. We’ve run the gamut from the quaintest Kiki to the transcendent Tilda and everyone in between. While often there for our entertainment, these magical beings represent more than a pointy hat. They remind us to break free from the shackles of society and find that inner power on our terms. So call the corners and march to the beat of your own cauldron because immortality eludes us all.
The First Full Trailer for the ‘HELLRAISER’ Reboot Has Such Sights to Show You
What’s your pleasure reader? A new chapter of cenobite pain and perversion, I hope.
Today saw the first full trailer drop for Hulu’s new reboot of the Hellraiser series with the simply titled Hellraiser (2022). After a teaser in August, we’ve gotten the first look in full at Jamie Clayton’s Pinhead, as well as a few glimpses of the suffering that awaits those who open the Lament Configuration.
Written by Ben Collins of Super Dark Times and The Night House and directed by one of the V/H/S series mainstay producers David Bruckner, the next installment in the Hellraiser franchise sees a young woman named Riley pursued by the leader of the cenobites, Pinhead, following the disappearance of Riley’s brother.
Actress Jamie Clayton, known for her role as Nomi in Sense8, has big shoes to fill as only one of four actors to play Pinhead. In the novella The Hellbound Heart, Pinhead is described as femme presenting, so this change in casting might suggest an interest in drawing more from Clive Barker’s literary mythos for a new series, and a step away from the franchise’s current lore. A welcome change in my book; let’s get away from the satellite lasers and video game hells, yeah?
Hellraiser releases exclusively on Hulu this October 7th.
More News About ‘THE BOULET BROTHERS’ DRAGULA: TITANS’ and Its Release Date Has Just Dropped— And It’s Going to Be Massive
The horror, filth, and glamour we know is about to grow to TITANIC proportions.
Boulet Brothers’ Dragula fans have finally gotten word on the finer details of the new series The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula: Titans thanks to a Deadline Hollywood exclusive article.
The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula: Titans reunites a roster of the biggest and baddest contestants from the show’s past, returning for a chance at a $100,000 dollar prize as well as a coveted spot as the head of the Boulet Brothers world tour wearing the one and only Titans Crown.
For speculation on who might be coming back to clash for the crown, we’ve got an article for you right here.
We also have a confirmation that we’ll be getting returning guest judges, ranging from drag queens like Alaska Thunderfuck and Katya Zamolodchikova, to peculiar pop metal royalty Poppy, to all-time great scream queen Barbara Crampton, to the one and only mistress of the dark herself, Cassandra Peterson (Elvira).
The Boulets promise “shocking twists and turns” that will have you completely gagged and is one of the many reasons they can only seem to call The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula: Titans “the most compelling content [they’ve] created to date”.
The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula: Titans will release in a colossal two-part premiere on October 25th exclusively on Shudder, just in time for Halloween.