Customer Reviews: The Witches
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on October 4, 2000
"The Witches" is one of my favorite films. The film combines the substantial filmmaking talents of Nicholas Roeg with the wonderworking of Jim Henson and an unforgettable performance from Angelica Huston. Every time I watch this film, I find something new to like about it.
Since I have seen the film numerous times, I was a bit disappointed that the DVD did not contain any special features, such as a commentary from the filmmaker or one of the actors. Other than the most basic chapter selection, the DVD does not offer any of the bonuses that one would like to see. Fortunately, the film itself is so good that it is worthwhile to buy this disc in spite of the substandard packaging.
From the very beginning of the film, we are thrown into an imaginative world where witches reside in literally every small village and where no child is safe in any country. As the credits roll across the screen, Roeg treats us to a ride on a broomstick, to a witch's-eye view of the frozen Scandinavian countryside.
The film then introduces us to Luke and his grandmother, the protagonists of this tale. We learn that the grandmother has long been fighting the witches and even has lost part of her finger in the struggles. After tragedy strikes the young boy's parents, the pair travel to England, which is literally infested with witches. Fortunately, Luke has been well-warned how to recognize them and can play safely in his tree house when other children would be in grave peril.
The delicious irony compounds when the grandmother takes Luke to a seaside resort hotel for her convalescence. It is the precise time when all the witches of England are meeting under the cover of the Royal Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Children. In a closed-door session, the witches remove their wigs and uncomfortable, yet practical, shoes, letting us see them in all their repulsiveness. The Grand High Witch (played to perfection by Angelica Huston) reveals her plan to turn all the children of England into mice. Of course, the witch's plan goes astray, and tables are turned on all the witches in one of the most delightful scenes in all of modern cinema. Every time I watch it, I think to myself how much fun it would be to make a film like this one.
This is a charming, delightful film with enough diversions to keep children fascinated, told with enough skill to keep adults interested. It is a keeper, worth watching many times.
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on July 18, 2007
Roald Dahl, best-known for his "Charlie and The Chocolate Factory", also penned this dark little tale, which is brought to vivid cinematic life by gifted director Nicolas Roeg ("Walkabout", "Don't Look Now"). The late Jim Henson's distinctive talents are on display in some of the rodent and witch representations, and the film also boasts broadly amusing turns by Anjelica Huston (as The Grand High Witch) and Brits Brenda Blethyn and Rowan Atkinson in supporting roles.
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on October 13, 2012
I love this movie and there are plenty of reviews. What I'm going to "review" is the availability of the movie and the full 16:9/widescreen transfer.

The movie had previously only ever been released on home video in "fullscreen" (4:3 or 1.33:1 ratio). Both the VHS and DVD releases have only ever had the fullscreen format. A widescreen VHS, LaserDisc or DVD was never released, in any country. The only way to have viewed the complete widescreen version of the film was if you got to see it in theaters when it was released.

Even subsequent airings on HD television channels seem to play a butchered version of the 4:3 cut, further cut from the top and bottom for the illusion of widescreen. What you got was a twice-butchered version (first, the fullscreen version is missing video from the left and right, THEN, the HDTV version cuts data from the top and bottom of the fullscreen version to make a fake-widescreen transfer).

So call me skeptical when Amazon Video claimed the movie was available in widescreen. I bit the bullet and viewed it.

The Amazon Video version, I can confirm, is the full 16:9 release of the film. In both SD and HD resolutions!

As of this review, the movie is available to stream for free if you have a Prime subscription. It is also available to purchase or rent on Amazon Video. If you want to watch it on your TV, a Roku box, PlayStation3 or Xbox 360 can achieve this. You can also watch it on your iPad with the Amazon Prime Video app (sadly not available for iPhone or iPod Touch yet).

The digital release also exists on iTunes and Vudu, but I cannot confirm if they are truly the widescreen version (though it's likely, as Amazon, Apple and UltraViolet probably get their digital release from the same source).

The movie is not yet available on Blu-Ray disc, and they're likely not going to release an updated DVD, which means that for now the only way to watch the full 16:9 transfer of the movie is digitally. It's also not available on Netflix, so consider this one an Amazon/iTunes/Vudu exclusive.
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on October 16, 1999
Anjelica Huston is so hideous as a witch it isn't funny. Actually, it is a bit funny, with the accent and everything. Oh, and the mice are simply adorable. Everyone else told the plot, so I won't linger about it. Basically, the Grand High Witch turns a boy, Luke, into a mouse and he has to save all the children in England. While a mouse. That presents some problems, and a kinda scary scene with the Grand High Witch's cat. The witch convention would be the most impressive scene in the movie. Eva Ernst (The Witch) tells everyone to take off their shoes. Then she tells them to remove their "vigs" (wigs). They are bald with purple eyes and ugly teeth. Then Eva proceeds to remove her hair AND face at the same time, with a little help from her secretary. Eva's chin grows, her nose lengthens, and underneath her mask is the most hideous thing you have ever seen. Long ears, no hair, and that awful face. I suppose it's still Anjelica Huston under all that. She keeps the accent, and even while she is being scary she is funny when explaining the results of her Formula 86. I highly recommend this movie, because the acting is suberb and the effects are better.
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on September 6, 2003
"The Witches" is one of the best movies ever produced. If you have not seen it, see it! If you have seen it, see it again! Nicholas Roeg directed this movie (which is based on Roald Dahl's novel of the same name), and delivers a brilliant film on so many levels.
The visuals are amazing and the story is intriguing. The plot involves a young boy, Luke, and his grandmother going on a vacation to a seaside hotel in England, only to discover that many of its occupants are REAL WITCHES, one of whom is the Grand High Witch. Angelica Houston does a fabulous job as the Grand High Witch, and the make-up which forms her disguised face is both frightening and spectacular.
It is unfortunate that "The Witches" is largely unrecognized, as adults and children alike will adore this movie for its action, suspense and sheer brilliance. There is no doubt in my mind that this film is among the best ever made.
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on October 31, 2003
I discovered thsi movie at the age of eight and became obsessed with it renting it several times then buying it for myself a few years later. Kids flicks don't get any better than this.
This movie is based on the book by Rolald Dahl which is about a boy who comes across a flock of witches while vacationing with his grandma on the English seashore. The witches *led by Angelica Huston* are meeting under the disguise of a "children's charity organization* but really are discussing plans to get rid of all of the children in England by turning them into mice! Unfortunately, the boy whose name is Luke becomes one of their first victims. The story is great fun as are the actors. The end is the best part which takes place at a fancy dinner for the witches, but I won't give it away. Fantastic movie for the young and the young at heart.
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on April 5, 2001
Why did they produce such a cheap transfer? There is some artifacting, the blacks are not solid, there's lots of edge enhancement, but most of all, it's full frame!
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VINE VOICEon May 26, 2014
If you're a fan of children's author Roald Dahl (he wrote the book on which this movie was based), you're likely to enjoy this film. Since this was done almost 25 years ago, the special effects may be a bit dated.

IMHO, kids age five or six should watch this with an adult nearby who can assess the child's response. The movie can be a little intense for the younger set, so this may not be a great movie to watch before bedtime.

Anjelica Huston plays a phenomenal Grand Witch. The grandmother is a loving & caring person, accepting her grandson and his friend even when they are turned into mice. Best of all, everything comes out right in the end.
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on August 8, 2009
"Witches" is a marvellous film: cleverly written and wittily produced. Alas, this is a mutilated copy: the usual tactic of corporate greed. The original, filmed in a ratio of 1.85:1, this copy has been mutilated -- slashed and hacked to leave a visual aspect of 1.33:1.

If you want to buy this butchered version, go ahead. Just remember that you're missing about a third of the original. If steak is $5 s pound, would you pay $5 for 11 ounces? Just remember that the butcher still has his or her thumb on the scale, waiting to get your money again when she/he later offers correct weight for the price.

If you still want to buy this thing, let me know. I have some riverside property in New Orleans I'd like to sell you.
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on July 25, 2014
While this movie is not a Classic, it certainly deserves *4* stars. Angelica Houston is up to her
great performance as the head witch of a coven of witches (about 100). She has invented
a potion to turn all the kids into mice. And the little boy of the show does all he can to stop
the witches and succeeds! Someone else said "Not quite for children and not quite for Adults"
but it is a very good movie!
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