Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Top 8 Witches of the 90's

The top 8 countdown of witches from 'Back in the Day'!

To me, growing up in the 90's was a sort of dream. I had access to cultures from around the world in ways that my parents and even my older siblings did not have growing up. MTV was always giving me the 411 on pop-culture, I could lose myself in Goosebumps books, Ellen came out on an episode of her prime-time show, and we had Bill Clinton as president. These were all things I took for granted! I got lucky, my childhood saw not only extreme periods of economic growth but also the only war that was going on was cold.

Whether you were listening to the tortured sounds of Tori Amos, Sarah Mclachlan, and Alanis Morriset, or the hard knock rap of the Wu Tang Clan, The Fugees, or Dr.Dre chances are you like me were soaking all of the new-found liberalism of mainstream media. Part of this new found media liberalism gave way for Witches to come back into our lives in a big way. The silver and small screens were filled with witchcraft and my young impressionable mind simply gave-in to the temptations of what life might be like if I could turn a boy into a cat, or if I had two crazy aunts who took me to teach me witchcraft. As I look back I remember stowing away in my bedroom and doing the exact same spells I saw each week on Charmed, I remember forming covens with class mates that would only last a week, and I remember going off into the woods and invoking the spirit.

As an adult I can not help but to pay homage to those witches who came into my life and hypnotized me. This post is a top 8 countdown dedicated to the witches from 'Back in the day' who shaped our young minds into the bad-ass witches we are today!

Number 8- Rita Repulsa

Now, some of you may be wondering who the hell Rita Repulsa is, but for those of us who grew up with the beloved Japanese turned American 90's pop phenom The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers you were probably fighting her evil spawn on the play ground after school. Rita Repulsa was an evil alien witch who had been trapped in a galactic dumpster by the forces of good for over ten thousand years.

Later in the series she marries the evil Lord Zedd after he plots to take control over her quest for universal domination. Rita had four minions who were trapped with her for those ten thousand years Goldar, Finster, Squat, and Baboo.

Her most famous line- “I've got such a headache!”

Truth be told Rita may be an alien witch from a ten thousand year old dumpster but she always provided the proper amount of snark and quick response. She rarely fought in hand to hand combat but instead would send her minions to do all of her dirty work most notably the Puddies! This is the kind of witch who didn't take crap (unless it was from her husband, or brother, or father, or of course the power rangers who weekly kicked her ass.)

Rita comes in at number 8 on the list of top witches from the 90's due to her lack of self empowerment, I mean after-all what kind of message are we sending to children with that hair?

Number 7- The Blair Witch

The Blair Witch project came out in '99 and is a documentary style- not so documentary which follows a group of college students who enter the woods of the Black Hills in Maryland as they investigate the Blair Witch. Supposedly in 1994 this group of amateur film students heads off into the woods and are never heard from again, however the majority of their film and sound equipment was discovered and that material was mastered into what would become the movie.

The film was originally released at the 99 Sundance Film Festival and after months of on-line publicity and leaks was released the same year by Artisan Entertainment. They big claim to fame was that reportedly the events in the movie were actual events that had taken place just five years earlier.

At the beginning of the film we are introduced to the Blair Witch by locals (some planted actors, and others who are reportedly actual members of the local community) as a witch who was hung in the 18th century that visited Rustin Parr a hermit who kidnapped seven children and ritually murdered them in the early 1900's. Later he turns himself into the police claiming insanity. As the story develops the ghost of the Blair Witch slowly pics off members of the crew and the movie provides one of the most satirically covered scenes of all time.

Although we never see the Blair Witch we are plagued throughout the film with her supposed symbol which is a bundle of sticks that form together to make a sigil.

Everyone thought this film was real and the film gave way to other amateur style not-so documentary flicks like 2010's Paranormal Activity.

The Blair Witch makes number 7 on our countdown because even though her character was loosely based on urban legend and was unseen in the film she still gave my ass nightmares! :D

Number 6- Sabrina Spellman

Originally released by Archie comics as the story of Sabrina Spellman, Sabrina the teenage witch debuted on ABC's TGIF in 1996 and was the first prime time series depicting a witch since Bewitched! The show follows a half witch/ half mortal sixteen year old girl who moves in with her aunts for “Witch training.” Throughout the series Sabrina undergoes a series of social and magical lessons as she gets swept away with the drama of life as an American teenager.

Sabrina has two wacky aunts, Hilda and Zelda who have given up life in the 'other realm' for a simple life amongst the mortals of suburbia. The three witches are also the caregivers of a black cat named salem who was once a witch who was punished for misuse of his powers and transformed into a talking cat.

Amongst some of the zany antics of the series Sabrina falls victim to backfiring spells, a sick index finger, and a closet that acts as a portal to the 'other realm.'

Sabrina was a great escape for me as a kid, but more important was my crush on her love interest Harvey who was nothing more than a popular dumb jock. Eventually the series moved to the WB for its final three seasons which follow Sabrina through her college years.

Famous Quote: Sabrina: “What's the matter? I have to be a witch, I have to be a mortal, I have to be a teenager and I have to be a girl all at the same time. That's what's the matter.”

Salem: “At least you still have your thumbs... and a door on your bathroom!”

Sabrina makes number 6 on our countdown to the top witch of the 90's because she spent more time trying to mix her witchcraft and her mundane life and not enough time snogging with the jock. Well, I mean we all have to have our priorities after-all.

Number 5- Eva Ernst

In the 1990 film release of Roald Dahl's book by the same name, Goddess of the small and silver screen Angelica Houston plays Eva Ernst the Grand High Witch of England in The Witches. The plot is centered around a young boy named Luke who is turned into a mouse after stumbling into a witches' convention which happens to be at the same hotel that he and his grandmother are staying at. I wont give any spoilers for the one person out there who hasn't seen the movie yet, but unknowingly all the witches at the convention end up drinking the same potion that turned our young Luke into a mouse!

The best part of the movie is when all of the witches rip off their human exteriors and show their real faces. Angelica Houston turns into a horrible looking hunchback with a crooked pointy nose. Of course this is the classic image of a witch, but as always she plays evil so well.

Famous Line: Eva: “Any questions? “
Millie: “Madam, what would happen if one of the chocolates we give away was accidentally eaten by a grown-up?”
Eva: “Then that's just too bad for ze grown-up.”

Number 4- The Sanderson Sisters

In the 1993 Disney film Hocus Pocus we are taken to Salem, MA where three evil witches are brought back from the dead for one night only, as Max the main character lights the “black flame candle” in a stunt to impress a girl. The three sisters are brought back from hell and spend all of halloween brewing a potion to suck the lives out of the children of Salem so their youth can be restored.

What made this movie so completely bad-ass is all the singing! In classic Disney fashion we are treated to several musical numbers, and with a cast that includes Bette Midler how could you go wrong? My favorite scene from the movie is when the three sisters sing 'I put a spell on you' and the parents of Salem are enchanted to dance until they die. The song is a classic, but this number took it over the top with a Vegas style extravagance!

We had all the great stuff in this movie, and boy did the sisters play it well! The eldest sister, Winnifred, played by Bette Midler was a power hungry high tempered red-head who is constantly struggling to keep control over her two sisters who lack commonsense as they tear through Salem searching for the children who brought them back from the dead.

The middle sister, a brunette stout witch named Mary, played by Kathy Najimy brought laughs as she flew off into the night on a vacuum cleaner. The youngest sister Sarah, played by Sarah Jessica Parker reminded me more of my boy-crazy sister, only... a little sluttier. I think SJP had more cleavage going on than I was used to in a children's movie, but hey if you got it....

Favorite Quote: Winnifred: “ I always wanted children....... ON TOAST!”

The Sanderson sisters although quick witted and hysterical were not so self actualized and this is why they make number four on our countdown.

Number 3- The girls from the craft

The craft became a pop-phenom after its 1996 release by director Andrew Fleming. The movie follows four catholic school girls turned punk-goth witches as they navigate their way through their junior year of high-school. The movie takes a turn for the dark when the characters gang up on the newest member of their coven as spells go crazy, dead sharks end up on the beech after a crazy night of invoking the spirit, and no less than three people die due to magick gone awry.

We have Nancy the white-trash dis-empowered goth girl who turns into a psycho because she missuses her magick, Bonnie who hates her body and then half way the film becomes a sex-bomb, Rochelle who fights the evils of blond bigotry, and Sarah the girl with baggage who becomes super-witch. Everything you need for a teeny-bopper flick about the wiles of friendship gone wrong.

Favorite Quote: Bus driver: “Watch out for the weirdos, girls.”
Nancy: “We are the weirdos, mister.”

Not only did we all know who these four girls were in our own high-schools, but we wanted to be just like them, and that makes the witches of The Craft our number three!

Number 2- The Charmed Ones
In 1998 the WB (R.I.P) brought the story of the three Halliwell sisters into our homes each-week. The first two-seasons delved into a myriad of issues surrounding their childhoods, careers, and love-lives as the sisters are reunited after their grandmother's death and discover that they are witches! Now, these three aren't just any witches, but The Charmed ones!

This show will always have a spot in my heart and because the first few seasons were completely kick-ass I will forgive them for making me bang my head against the wall all throughout the final three seasons. What I loved most about these witches is that they were fighting the forces of evil, or rather the source of all evil, and most often did it in high-heels. The series did 'Jump the Shark” when the eldest sister Prue died suddenly and mysteriously, ending the power of three, only to be replaced by a 'hidden' fourth sister- Page.

One of the coolest things about these witches is that they each possessed a specific ability, Prue- the power to move objects with her mind, and later astral project, Piper- the power to freeze people and places, and later to make them explode, Pheobe- The power of premonition and later the power to levitate, and of course Page who inherits the abilities of her estranged dead sister Prue but also has the power of teleportation.

Favorite Quote: Piper:
“Darryl, I'm sorry, but what do you want me to say? My sister was just possessed with a supernaturally born killer and my husband is in 1994, and I do not mean in the fashion sense. He time traveled back with my other sister so the only one left to help me is you.”

These witches were awesome and sexy giving them the number two spot on our countdown. Fighting the forces of evil in stilettos has to be a super-power all its own.

Number 1- The Owens Family

The1998 film Practical Magic featuring a knock-out cast which included Stockard Channing, Nicole Kidman, Diane Weisst, and Sandra Bullock explores the lives of a family of witches through the good times and the bad. In the movie we discover that the Owens women only have little girls and those little girls are natural born witches! The film primarily focuses on Sally and Gillian Owens as they try to take back their lives after the death of a husband and the accidental murder by belladonna of Gillian's fugitive ex-lover who is raised back from the dead only to become their worst nightmare.

The movie is in my book as the top witchcraft movie of my generation as it showcases strong women who live through tough times but always have each-other to turn to. The Owens women are powerful witches who live on the outskirts of society and never seem to age, their magick is beautiful and based off of actual magic that you and I might practice, but most impressively these witches embody everything I want to be when I grow-up, oh and I want that house!

Favorite quote: Francis : “My darling girl, when are you going to realize that being normal is not necessarily a virtue? It rather denotes a lack of courage!”

A powerful cast playing powerful witches who not only know their way around an herb cabinet but actually make money off of their craft makes these self actualized divas our number one!

Now for those of you who are asking "What about Willow?"  Willow did not become a witch on the TV series Buffy the vampire slayer until 2001! She will be on another top list soon. :P


  1. I love all of these Witches, and I agree with your choice of number one totally! :)

  2. I was too old to ever really get into the Power Rangers but I babysat some kids who watched the show and I remember the odd hilarity of Rita Repulsa. She had the most horrify screech in her voice...and how she moved around in those outfits was magic in and of

    But all the others were awesome too. It's fun to have images like these at times to escape with. In fact, I'm watching Practical Magic as we speak and it's by far one of my all time favorite movies. :)

  3. I'm older than you Devin. Much older. So take my comments with that in mind.

    8) I never got into the Power Rangers. I tried once but found it agonizingly boring and that Rita woman's voice was downright irritating.

    7) First off THERE IS NO BLAIR WITCH. It was made up. All of it. The legend is loosely based on the Bell Witch of Tennessee, which is still an active case as sightings occur to this day. I'm surprised you were scared by this film. The only thing I found scary was the hoard of tourists and wannabe ghost hunters that flooded Burkittsville. When I want to be frightened I watch THE EXORCIST.

    6) Sabrina was cute but I like BEWITCHED better.

    5) I L-O-V-E-D Angelica Houston in THE WITCHES. She made that movie. The scene where the witches rip off their wigs gave me a flash back to the time when I sat in the dressing room during a particularly wicked drag show back in the 80s.

    4) HOCUS POCUS is the perfect witchy movie for kids. And yes, the music is KICK ASS! "Come little children I'll take thee away..."

    3) THE CRAFT has become a bit of a joke but back then it was responsible for getting my teenage niece into the real Craft. So I say thank you to those annoying girls.

    2) CHARMED was a guilty pleasure that I watched every week. The sad truth is it really went downhill when Spelling killed off Prew. But it did serve as the inspiration for the number one witchy movie of all time.

    1) PRACTICAL MAGIC is everything you say and more. The wonderful thing is it still holds up as good entertainment even after all these years. When I first saw it I said to myself "THAT is the life I want to live." A life full of beauty, wonder and magic. And for the most part I've done it. So have you and thousands of other witches. I watch it every October.

    Great post Devin. Sorry it took me so long to comment.

    Best wytches,