It’s one of the most terrifying, traumatic children’s movies of all time, and soon there will be two versions of it. A remake of The Witches has been in production for some time and will be scaring a new generation on HBO Max this Halloween.
The simple premise is that witches are everywhere, they hate children and actively work to destroy them through sadistic means, usually involving cruel spells that doom them. Our unfortunate main character has the bad luck of running into a witch convention, and wanders away as a mouse. He must now somehow stop the witches from fulfilling their anti-kid eradication plan while trapped in his rodent form.
Most adaptions of Roald Dahl novels tend to soften some of his more extreme edges, a fact that annoyed him to no end. The 1990 Witches is the only Dahl movie to date that sticks to the merciless tone of the original, except for a tacked-on ending where the mouse is turned back into a boy by a “good witch” out of nowhere. The only improvement Zemeckis could really add to the original would be to use the bittersweet book ending…guess we’ll see if he does.
We do know that Anne Hathaway, the new Grand High Witch, will have to work very hard to top the scene-stealing Anjelica Houston in the same role. The Witches was also the final movie to feature the work of Jim Henson for its effects. You don’t top Henson, you can only try to measure up.
Beware….The Witches are out there, and they’re coming back on HBO Max October 22.