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Witches, The

Despite complaints from the author about improper tampering with his book, this is a reasonably faithful adaptation of Roald Dahl’s children’s story about a boy and his grandmother who end up sharing a Bournemouth hotel with a coven of witches dedicated to turning all of England’s children into mice. Roeg’s reason for doing The Witches was that he wanted to make a film that, for once, his own children could see. It is a genial, pint-sized contribution to the 1980s gruesome transformation movies, with special effects that turn the human inside out to reveal the monster lurking within. It can also be seen as Roeg’s children’s version of Don’t Look Now. This time it is the parents who have been killed and the bereaved child on holiday in a hotel is pursued by demonic wicked ‘sisters’. One could even take it as a political allegory of 1980s England. In this reading, the Grand High Witch (Angelica Huston) becomes Margaret Thatcher, wowing the Bournemouth Conference, not just opposing but obliterating dissent and contriving a future generation made up of mice. She even arrives in Dennis’s Taxis!

U.S.A., 1990.
91 mins.

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