This past Friday night, James and I sat down to watch The Witches, a movie based on a Roald Dahl children’s book.
If you were like me, you might have gone through a huge Roald Dahl phase when you were in elementary school — Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, The BFG — and maybe, like me too, you haven’t necessarily grown out of it.
I re-read The Witches for the first time last year, and was positively disturbed by it, to be honest.
THEY LET US READ THIS IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL?!
It’s quite terrifying to read a book about witches (who look like ordinary woman but cover up their “witch qualities” with hats, shoes, gloves, and masks…) who want to turn all the children of the world into mice. Our main character, who’s parents pass away in the first few minutes of the book, is turned into one (like he hasn’t suffered enough) but teams up with his grandma and another mouse to take the witches down and save all the kids of the world!
My fifth grade teacher showed us the movie component + I remember how freaked out I was of Anjelica Huston’s character back then.
Well, good news, she is still scary.
Before he died in 1990, The Witches was actually one of Jim Henson’s final projects. Produced by Jim Henson Productions, work started on the movie in 1988. The Witches does include animatronic mice, which were worked on by the Jim Henson Creature Shop. Several familiar puppeteers also worked on the film like Steve Whitmire (Kermit!), Brian Henson (well, I think you know this one), and Don Austen (The Muppet Christmas Carol).
The Witches is definitely not the Muppets, but instead feels dark and more adult. Despite some questionable effects (hey this was 1990), the animatronics are quite well-done and Anjelica Huston is fantastically terrifying. It always gives me an extra kick when movies from a little bit of the Jim Henson touch!