Witchin’ & Bitchin’ (2013) – movie review

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Witchin’ & Bitchin’ (2013)
Spanish – Las brujas de Zugarramurdi

Directed by Álex de la Iglesia
Hugo Silva
Mario Casas
Carmen Maura
Carolina Bang


The title of this film wasn’t a real eye catcher for me and I actually prefer the Spanish title, The Witches of Zugarramurdi. With that said, I delved into the film not expecting much and was delighted with what I saw.

This is a wacky, crazy, over-the-top horror film that is a lot of fun. It’s a Spanish film, subtitled, but easy to watch and enjoyablewitchin and bitchin poster 2 viewing. A rag-tag band of thieves heist a pawn shop and attempt to make a clean getaway. The problem is with Jose; it was his day to watch his son, per his divorce settlement and he brings the young lad along on the heist. With Antonio, he had to borrow the car from his girlfriend but she needed it back and took it during the robbery leaving them without a getaway car. And that’s just the beginning of dozens problems that plague these enterprising men as they head for the French border with a bag full of loot and gold.

Unbeknownst to the band of thieves, the Basque town of Zugarramurdi, in the Spanish countryside, is cursed and populated with members of Europe’s oldest and biggest witches coven. Oh, and they happen to be cannibals. The sack of pawned gold holds evil power because of the broken promises and lost hopes of wedding rings returned and misery dispensed. The gold will help the coven perform a sacred ceremony that will enable them to wield a reign of terror upon the world.

Comical and bizarre witch family members scuffle with the thieves and two detectives who had been on their trail. The witches raise the mother goddess, (a sight to be seen – comically horrifying on many levels) in order to fulfill a prophecy and enable the Coven to take control of the world. It’s a zany horror-comedy reflecting shades of John Dies at the End, Black Sheep, and Dead Alive. It’s a fun film that I enjoyed quite a bit and it had me laughing out loud several times. It has won numerous awards at the 28th Goya Awards honoring Spanish film and entertainment. So if you’re in the mood for some supernatural comedy horror and don’t mind reading some subtitles, look no further. This film is worth the effort.

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A fun and funny film about witches, and dealing with ex-wives in this high octane comedy!

I give it 4.0 wicked witch spells out of 5 on the accursed coven of conjured concubines scale.

Lords of Salem (2013) – Movie review

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Lords of Salem (2013)

the-lords-of-salem-posterThis is quite a different film from Rob Zombie. In “Lords…” he offers some real characters, not the over-the-top, cartoon-ish maniacs, no foul-mouthed teenagers, maniacal renegades or white trash extremes. However, he still manages to show us the ugly. In this film it’s devil-worshipping witches of 1690’s Salem (note: not the mistakenly accused or the earthly spiritual Wiccans). If anyone could relay the ugly truth of devil worship, it is Rob Zombie. A bunch of naked old crones in the woods dancing around a fire is not a pretty sight.

The story goes like this; witches are burned in secrecy by the town leader, Reverend Jonathan Hawthorne. The head of the Coven, Magaret Morgan, casts a curse upon the women of Salem for generations to come and vows that a Salem daughter will be the concubine for the birth of the anti-Christ. In the present day, a radio DJ, Heidi is given a record. The music is a repeated theme, 4 notes in perpetuity which is mesmerizing to say the least. When she plays this on-air it garners strange reactions in the women of Salem. Heidi begins to hallucinate; she sees strange figures Lords of salem pic 2following her, death and destruction of the flesh, the wages of sin, and evil at work in the modern world. The empty apartment (#5) in her building comes to life and it is there that she is offered as the mistress to Satan. She is a direct descendent of the Hawthornes.

In some ways, ‘Lords’ has aspects reminiscent of Rosemary’s Baby and some of the 1970’s Satanic cult films. But I would say the biggest influence comes from Haxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages. The ugly and nasty visions of witchcraft, ceremonies, and acts in league with the devil are certainly influenced by the 1920’s silent film. The influence is noticeable especially in the depiction of the devil himself which probably had quite a few people scratching their heads. How the witches are punished is also reminiscent of Bava’s Black Sunday.

Zombie’s visual direction also takes cues from Italian masters Argento and Bava, and admittedly Stanley Kubrick. The use of color, shadow and light bring forth some visually stunning scenes. The doorway at the end of the dull wallpapered hallway is often bathed in rich red. Most of Heidi’s days of trudging through the motions of modern life are shown with washed out color to portray the bleak existence of not living her destiny. In other scenes, when in the presence of evil, the colors become bright. In fact, the whole ending, when she is birthing the  devil’s offspring, explodes with rich and vibrant color, lush cathedral palace rooms, hot orange fires burning brightly against the faces of the coven, and neon visions of hell. This exemplifies that Lucifer is known as the Angel of Light (not the dark. strange, right?). Most of the film is drenched with symbolism. If you like that kind of stuff, you will probably appreciate this. If you don’t, you will probably think this film sucks. There’s nothing wrong with that, some people like horror that is psychological and abstract in nature, others like visceral horror – its just a preference. This is not scary in the sense of, I’m being chased and I’m about to die. However, that aspect doesn’t mean this is not a great horror story.
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OK, so Lords of Salem is not a perfect film. It makes you feel dread in the end and that’s not always a good last impression. Some people complain about what is going on at the ending but what Zombie is conveying is that Heidi becomes a demonic deity, the opposite to Mother Mary – like the anti-Mother Mary. He chose to depict that in neo-demonic imagery rather than having a lords pic 10character come out and just say it.

I did think that there could have been a better attempt during the 3rd act at saving Heidi from the clutches of evil. That would have made the loss on the side of goodness even more poignant. I think there always has to be hope in a good horror story, even if it inevitably fails. Also, the montage at the end slips into his music video directing style with a few of the flash images. I think it would have been better if they stayed more gritty rather than flashy. Complaints aside, I am for some reason compelled to watch the film again. That doesn’t happen often with modern horror films.

Symbolism in Lords of Salem:
(aside from the items already discussed in the article)

Door 5 most likely represents the 5 points of the pentagram

The symbol painted on the heads of the witch’s coven:
The symbol is most likely a mirrored variation of the astrological sign for Algol. Algol is called the unfortunate star and is often associated with violence. A second possibility is the symbol for Mercury, which is the God of War in mythology. Backing this thought is the quote from the movie, “you have to realize, there is a war going on in Heaven.”

The musical phrase sent by The Lords:
The short phrase is formed within the Phrygian Scale. It begins with a half-step from the root-note which gives it a ‘distinct’ dark feel. At one time, an 11th century Benedictine monk had forbidden using this scale (and similar scales with the flat-second note) to compose music claiming it brought forth evil.

Witches in 3’s:
You will often see witches in groups of three. From Greek mythology to Shakespeare’s Macbeth to modern witchcraft tales, there is power in threes. In Wicca they represent the 3 stages of a woman’s life, child, adult, old age, and they complete the circle of life. However, in Satanism, they represent, darkness, chaos and conflict.

The Goat everyone asks me about the goat (why me?). I have 5 reasons why the goat represents Satan.

1) “The Lord is my shepherd…,” Where as the sheep are tended and obedient, the goats roam the land freely.

2) All of the guilt of the people was symbolically placed on the head of the scapegoat (goat), who was then taken out into the wilderness and released (Leviticus 16:21-22).

3) The pagan deity Pan was symbolized as half man, half goat. He was mischievous and delighted in the pain and suffering of man. He lived in the wilderness where bad things happened to people, especially at night.

4) The half man, half goat image later showed up in Christianity as a more evil entity, the demon Baphomet.

5) Just look at the damn things eyes man! Drink goat milk? No way. You may as well be suckling on the teats of the devil >:)

The Black Metal band, Leviathan the Fleeing Serpent that is interviewed early in the film is a fictional band. John 5 and Zombie wrote the music and the music video features the band in full black metal make-up and regalia.
Check out the video: http://www.uberrock.co.uk/news-updates/94-april-news-updates/7980-black-metal-band-featured-in-rob-zombies-the-lords-of-salem-release-new-dark-new-video.html

related articles:

Scariest Witches in Film

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
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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.