Sunday, July 02, 2006


I've no idea how you'll take this, but if nothing else I'm sure you'll find it noteworthy:

Witches/Druids/Pagans/Satanists/whatevers are always my favorite horror movie "monsters". (Please don't think I group all the above together - I was merely simplifying to get my point across.) I totally dig witch stories and always have. Ever seen
Suspiria? That's one of the very best. Also The Wicker Man, Horror Hotel (aka The City of the Dead) and The Devil Rides Out. Heck, even Halloween III: Season of the Witch is my favorite of that shoddy franchise. Of course, I take none of this fare seriously, and I know much of it reflects poorly on your beliefs, but dammit - witch movies rock! Rosemary's Baby is probably the one film that unsettles me the most (in other words, it's my favorite horror flick).

It hit me recently during a viewing of Rosemary why I'm so into these types of movies: the idea of a group of people with a direct pipeline to the supernatural, all working in collusion against an individual - absolutely terrifies me.

Recently I wrote the above to a wiccan pal, and upon rereading it, my love for all things witchlike seemed the ideal springboard for a Morgue entry. Fear of collusion is obviously core to Rosemary, but the films mentioned prior to it operate from basically the same place. So without further ado...

Halloween witch imagery mesmerizes me, yet as a young boy it was the one classic costume that was off limits to my sex. Until now, it never even occurred to me that I desperately desired to cross-dress at the age of 7.

It must have all started with Oz's Margaret Hamilton, the witch by which all other witches must be measured; I refuse to believe Witchiepoo had anything to do with my fetish - mainly because no witch, no matter how memorable, can ever compete with a dragon in go-go boots. So ideal a witch was the Wicked Witch of the West, that she defined the classic witch image and yet nobody has ever dared try to replicate that image on film (at least not in any serious manner). Surely Margaret Hamilton’s precursor to Broom Hilda is the witch that other witches have nightmares about?

A few years later I fell under the spell of "The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe", and thanks to those little illustrations, I experienced a profound revelation: Witches can be hot! This was an idea - despite Bewitched - I’d not previously considered; Elizabeth Montgomery was much too far in the other direction to give me any pause for reflection. 'Sides, like Witchiepoo before Samantha, witches had no business being played for laughs. No, the blame for my silly notion that witches couldn't be sexy should be placed squarely on whoever cast Billie Burke as Glinda. By the time I got to "The Magician’s Nephew", Jadis was fueling many a perverse fantasy for the 11 year-old me...I mean, that Emerald bitch was sooo two books ago.

So how about that Tilda Swinton, eh? Certainly no actress could ever have lived up to the kinky weirdness my prepubescent mind concocted and even more certainly, Disney isn’t in the business of making those kinds of movies...but Tilda did alright. She was sexy in the most evil of all possible ways – simultaneously desirable and repellant. In the real world, women like this are bad news. Avoid them to retain what little dignity you still possess. Jadis, in hindsight, was not a healthy fixation, and yet years later it must have been she who led me down a dark path to a town where the sexiest mini-coven ever put to film resided: Eastwick. Bah to he who kneels at the altar of The Craft! My tagline for that movie? “It’s the cheesiest.”

The Witches of Eastwick fulfills the most absurd of all male delusions: You can be balding, fat and/or old and still get three hot women in your bed at the same time merely by spouting clever witticisms. Most men feel they are capable of doing the latter even if they are the former. It's worth mentioning that Eastwick was the first movie I ever saw in San Antonio and was also the first DVD I ever purchased.

In high school I played Rev. John Hale in "The Crucible" - even won a UIL “All Star” award for that performance; me convincingly playing a man of God does logically merit some sort of recognition. Going back to collusion, "The Crucible" is that idea turned upside down. It’s a group of stupid Christians with no magic powers and even less rational thought accusing innocents of, ironically, worshipping an imaginary deity. When people talk about it being a veiled attack on McCarthyism, I zone out. There’s a reason Arthur Miller symbolized his ideas through the Salem Witch trials - he too knew that witches make for fine entertainment. To have used The Red Scare would have been to create a snoozefest. The 1996 movie adaptation is an outstanding piece, despite a once-again-somewhat-miscast Winona Ryder.

1990 introduced me to a new kind of sexy witch: Jenny Seagrove's druidic nanny in William Friedkin's underrated and yet highly flawed The Guardian. This woman both worshipped & controlled the trees, killed babies and had no problem hanging about in various states of undress. Good lord! Had she not been such a nut, this would have been the woman for me.

The fare with which this entry began (Suspiria, The Wicker Man, Rosemary's Baby) is stuff I discovered in my adult life. It changed my perception of movie witches, taking me to stranger and more provocative places. But you gotta remember where you came from to know where you are, right? Even though my feelings about filmic witches have shifted over the years, their sexiness can sometimes work side by side with the collusion.

Perhaps this is why Polanski's Baby is my favorite of them all. Admittedly, Roman & Minnie Castevet are far from being hot witches, and yet there remains something undeniably sexy about a coven convincing a husband to join them in summoning the Devil to impregnate his innocent wife. Indeed, part of why it horrifies is due to it being a sick turn-on.

Were I a religious man, I'd at this point understand you questioning why you still visit the Morgue...but I am not. As a nonbeliever of all this stuff, I get a free pass and am allowed to go places God-fearing folk have no business venturing. The Morgue exists to say the things that should not be said and think the things that should not be thought.

Or I could always just say the Devil made me do it.