I can hardly believe that ‘The Wizard of Oz’ celebrates it’s 75th anniversary this year. It seems pretty amazing that this wonderful film that can still entertain and enthrall is that old! I loved watching it as a child and it always reminds me of sitting in the front room at Christmas, a pile of Quality Street wrappers next to me (we only ever had these at Christmas – now you can get them all year. I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing), the multi-coloured lights of our silver tinsel Christmas tree twinkling away. And being absolutely terrified. The Wicked Witch of the West and her troupe of flying monkeys scared the proverbial out of me. It’s not a cliché to say that I spent most of the film hiding behind a cushion (a bright orange fluffy one if you must know – this was the seventies after all). But I have to admit I much preferred watching her to her sickly sweet counterpart Glinda, the Good Witch of the North. I wonder sometimes if watching that film sowed a seed for my later fascination with witches and those on the edges of society. She truly was the embodiment of a dangerous wicked woman after all. And in celebration of her 75 years as the most terrifying witch ever to grace the big and small screen here are the best of the rest:
The Grand High Witch – Roald Dahl’s The Witches
Scary in the book, terrifying on screen, The Grand High Witch is ‘the most evil woman in creation’. The book is awesome and deserves its longevity; Anjelica Houston, in the film, is amazing and terrifying and horrible, beautiful and alluring then dreadfully grotesque.
The Wicked Queen – Disney’s Snow White
I didn’t watch this film as a child. The only Disney film I saw then was Dumbo and that scarred me. I watched this with my daughter when she was four. I was terrified. She wasn’t. The scene in which she plummets to her death is horrible – how is this a children’s film? Oh yeah – my daughter wasn’t scared.
The White Witch – Chronicles of Narnia
Loved ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ when I was a child. Loved the film as an adult too. Tilda Swinton played it perfectly, menacing, malevolent and definitely icy.
Endora – Bewitched
I loved this show. But watching it now I can’t help getting irritated at the lovely Samantha, patronised as she is by the ridiculous Darren. So it’s Samantha’s mother, Endora, who makes it on to my list. Wish she could have made Darren vanish.
Minnie Castevet – Rosemary’s Baby
Horrible, horrible, horrible. I watched this film when I was twelve. Probably shouldn’t have.
Bellatrix Lestrange – Harry Potter
I’ll hold my hand up and admit that I’m not really a huge fan of Harry Potter. But I do love Helena Bonham Carter. IMHO she outshines absolutely everyone else in whatever film it was she was in (I only remember her and a brief appearance by Robert Pattinson in one of them– sorry).
Who’s your favourite?