The Scariest Classic Witches in film

The Scariest Classic Witches in film

OK, let me first state that I am not speaking of Wiccan’s, Pagan’s, or any earth religions and followers, and I do realize there is a great difference between the perception of witches and what witches actually are. I also know there is a great difference between the Wicca religion and Satan worshipers.

What I am speaking about is the classic legend of witches, the witch image stereotype that had been used for centuries to scare children and keep them from wandering in the forest; the scary image men conjured in centuries past from their own fears of things they did not understand; the visions that sparked the Salem Witch Trials and the Spanish Inquisition.

And, lastly, I am not talking about the pretty or sexy witch. Ever since Bewitched aired in the late 1960’s, there has been way too many of them in film.

So, without further explanation, here are my favorite scary witches:

5) Black Sunday (1960) – Her face encased with the mask of Satan, tortured and burned at the stake,  accused witch, Asa Vajda, comes to life centuries later to exact her revenge upon the descendants of her persecutors. Directed by Mario Bava.

4) Darkness Falls (2003) – This tooth seeking witch comes for your last baby tooth. The first six minutes of this film were a tense and chilling scene, making it well worthy of this list.

3) The Wizard of Oz (1939) – Margaret Hamilton’s portrayal of a witch in this classic film is the epitome of the witch legend. Ask any child what a witch looks like and they will draw something resembling The Wicked Witch of the West.

2) Pumpkinhead (1988) – Deep in the shadowed woods lives a witch named, Hagis, who can cast a spell upon anyone that has wronged you. In classic evil fashion, your wish always comes with a consequence. When Ed (Lance Henriksen) realizes what he has done, he is angered at himself. “God Damn me!” he says… to which Hagis replies, “He already has, Ed Harley, he already has.” (Side note: this is some of Henriksen’s best acting of his career.)
1) Tales From the Dark side – episode: Trick or Treat
(1st season – 1983) –
Damned if you can find a better classic witch than this one. Creepy as hell, a wickedly evil laugh and voice, and a face that could turn you to stone if you stare into it for too long.

Honorable Mentions:

Sleepy Hollow (1999 – Tim Burton) – Witch of the western wood

Dreams in the Witch House (Masters Of Horror – 2005) Stuart Gordon

Horror Hotel (aka City of the Dead)

Clash of the Titans (1981) – the Stygian Witches


How could I forget, the evil witch Markos from Suspiria

The three witches from Macbeth

Angelica Houston’s portrayal in The Witches
the witches 1990


These are not necessarily the best movies about witches or witchcraft but were chosen for their portrayal of the iconic witch image. Perhaps I’ll post future list of top witch/witchcraft/occult movies. I will want to wait until I have seen Lords of Salem (2012 – Rob Zombie) before I do that.

Lords of Salem review is here

Final note:

Believe it or not, there were not a whole lot of choices; I thought there would be so much more. So, if you think of a film or show that featured a scary-classic witch (even in a small role) let me know in the comments and I’ll add a photo to my honorable mentions.

22 thoughts on “The Scariest Classic Witches in film

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  2. Loved that episode of Tales From the Darkside, for some reason I always remembered it as a Monsters episode. The ‘Trick or Treat’ ep I remember from Tales from the Darkside was with the old, crank man that hated trick or treaters and one fugly ghoul comes knocking on his door on Halloween night. Great post!

  3. Thanks for this list, well cool! But Margaret Hamilton should be on the top of the list, she set the tone for movie witches for decades to come, suffered second- and third-degree burns on her face and hand while filming, and nearly 40 years later reprised the role on The Paul Lynde Halloween Special and partied with KISS!

  4. The Wiccan Rede
    (Full Version)
    Bide within the Law you must, in perfect Love and perfect Trust.
    Live you must and let to live, fairly take and fairly give.

    For tread the Circle thrice about to keep unwelcome spirits out.
    To bind the spell well every time, let the spell be said in rhyme.

    Light of eye and soft of touch, speak you little, listen much.
    Honor the Old Ones in deed and name,
    let love and light be our guides again.

    Deosil go by the waxing moon, chanting out the joyful tune.
    Widdershins go when the moon doth wane,
    and the werewolf howls by the dread wolfsbane.

    When the Lady’s moon is new, kiss the hand to Her times two.
    When the moon rides at Her peak then your heart’s desire seek.

    Heed the North winds mighty gale, lock the door and trim the sail.
    When the Wind blows from the East, expect the new and set the feast.

    When the wind comes from the South, love will kiss you on the mouth.
    When the wind whispers from the West, all hearts will find peace and rest.

    Nine woods in the Cauldron go, burn them fast and burn them slow.
    Birch in the fire goes to represent what the Lady knows.

    Oak in the forest towers with might, in the fire it brings the God’s
    insight. Rowan is a tree of power causing life and magick to flower.

    Willows at the waterside stand ready to help us to the Summerland.
    Hawthorn is burned to purify and to draw faerie to your eye.

    Hazel-the tree of wisdom and learning adds its strength to the bright fire burning.
    White are the flowers of Apple tree that brings us fruits of fertility.

    Grapes grow upon the vine giving us both joy and wine.
    Fir does mark the evergreen to represent immortality seen.

    Elder is the Lady’s tree burn it not or cursed you’ll be.
    Four times the Major Sabbats mark in the light and in the dark.

    As the old year starts to wane the new begins, it’s now Samhain.
    When the time for Imbolc shows watch for flowers through the snows.

    When the wheel begins to turn soon the Beltane fires will burn.
    As the wheel turns to Lamas night power is brought to magick rite.

    Four times the Minor Sabbats fall use the Sun to mark them all.
    When the wheel has turned to Yule light the log the Horned One rules.

    In the spring, when night equals day time for Ostara to come our way.
    When the Sun has reached it’s height time for Oak and Holly to fight.

    Harvesting comes to one and all when the Autumn Equinox does fall.
    Heed the flower, bush, and tree by the Lady blessed you’ll be.

    Where the rippling waters go cast a stone, the truth you’ll know.
    When you have and hold a need, harken not to others greed.

    With a fool no season spend or be counted as his friend.
    Merry Meet and Merry Part bright the cheeks and warm the heart.

    Mind the Three-fold Laws you should three times bad and three times good.
    When misfortune is enow wear the star upon your brow.

    Be true in love this you must do unless your love is false to you.

    These Eight words the Rede fulfill:

    “An Ye Harm None, Do What Ye Will”

    • Greetings Lisa, I approved the post, then thought we should do something different. We should put this in its own post, unless you wanted it here in particular. let me know 🙂

  5. Maybe not portrayals of “classic” witches, but two other great, relatively unknown horror films involving magic wielding females of nefarious intent (absolutely witches) are “Hausu” (1976) and “Eyes of Fire – aka “Cry Blue Sky” (1983).

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    • I assumed someone would suggest that film and had a pic waiting and ready, but you’re the first one. Maybe people didn’t think it was scary? Anyways, adding the pic to my honorable mentions 🙂

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