Nicolas Roeg‘s 1990 adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The Witches is often overlooked. It’s easily one of the best family horror films ever made, while also being the final film that the great Jim Henson ever worked on before his passing.
The British/American film is a frightening dark fantasy “comedy” about a young boy who stumbles onto a witch convention and must stop them, even after he has been turned into a mouse.
In one of the most memorable horror film performances ever, Anjelica Huston plays the coven’s Grand High Witch, who intends on turning the world’s smelly children into mice with her newly perfected potion. She’s elegant and mesmerizing, while also terrifying, making her the perfect embodiment of what Dahl’s Grand High Witch would be like. Interestingly, this could have gone in a completely different direction…
Dahl originally wanted Cher to play the role of the Grand High Witch, but she was unavailable at the time because the actress was filming Mermaids, Wiki explained. In fact, Eartha Kitt (who plays Catwoman on the “Batman” 1960’s television series), Fiona Fullerton (A View to Kill), Geneviève Bujold (Dead Ringers), Starr Andreeff (Amityville Dollhouse), Olivia Hussey (It (1990), Black Christmas), Sigourney Weaver (Alien, Aliens, Ghostbusters), Frances Conroy (“The Mist”, “American Horror Story”), and Liza Minnelli (Cabaret) were all at some point considered for the part of The Grand High Witch prior to Anjelica Huston’s casting.
IMDb adds to the list with some additional shockers that include The Exorcist‘s Linda Blair, Bonnie and Clyde‘s Faye Dunaway, Rocky Horror Picture Show‘s Susan Sarandon, The Silence of the Lambs’ Jodie Foster, and Vanessa Redgrave (Blow-Up).
Everything worked out in the end and the rest is history. Even Dahl found himself “satisfied” with Huston’s casting. It damn well better have.
What do you guys think of The Witches? If you haven’t seen it, Amazon is streaming it in HD via Prime.