House of the Devil – (2009) – movie review

House of the Devil – (2009) – movie review

House of the Devil is a creepy supernatural thriller that exudes dark atmosphere and suspense. Director, Ti West, writes/directs the film with the feel of 1970’s or early 1980’s films. From the opening title – the film’s title appearing suddenly upon a freeze frame image – to the character development unique to the 1970’s, to it’s occult themes, this film is a successful throwback while displaying originality in concept and story. The film is set in the early 1980’s time period, made evident by payphones, a walkman cassette player, and the automobiles. Two featured songs are dated to early 1980‘s: “One Thing Leads to Another” by The Fixx (1983) and “They Don’t Write em‘/The Break-up Song” (1981) by the Greg Kihn Band.

Samantha Hughes accepts a babysitting job in the countryside for an eccentric couple. The mansion is eerily quiet when the couple departs and Samantha tries to entertain herself during the lingering hours. The only thing on Television is news coverage of the full lunar eclipse event happening that very night. Samantha does not know that the occurrence is linked to her arrival at the home and she will soon be thrown into the spotlight of a supernatural event by satanic worshippers.

House of the Devil is an anxious slow-burn, building suspense as discrepancies discovered in the home give Samantha substance to her rising suspicions. The film uses the 1970’s style character development, allowing the viewer to get fully engrossed and empathetic to Samantha’s situation. Samantha, (Jocelin Donahue) a likable character that you hope will survive the ultimately evil plot. This was the first film by Ti West I had seen. Because I liked it so much I proceeded to purchase two of his other films, The Innkeeper and The Roost, which I will review at a later date. If you are a fan of 70’s horror, Hammer films, dark atmosphere and occult themes – or – if you’re just tired of explosions, CGI and all action and no substance in modern movies, you will want to check out House of the Devil.

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.