WHETHER TERRIFYING US IN HORROR FILMS OR ENCHANTING US IN FANTASY EPICS, THE MULTIFACETED WITCH-ARCHETYPE CAN BE BEAUTIFUL OR HAGGARD, ENTRANCING OR HORRIFYING, GOOD OR EVIL…
Across all movies about witches, however, one thing remains true: They are visually spellbinding.
Whether dark or light in nature, magical aesthetics lure viewers, from the hyper-Technicolor designs of The Love Witch to the gorgeous black-and-white gothic motifs in Black Sunday.
Black Sunday – Mario Bava’s 1960 horror classic is a scary tale about a 17th century witch who returns from the grave in seek of revenge against the family who condemned her. The film, with is luxuriant B&W cinematography remains one of the genre’s most elegant masterpiece.
Viy – USSR’s first horror movie based on Gogol’s 1835 pseudo-folkloric novel of the same name with a kitsch appeal and bucolic visuals. After a witch is beaten to death by a seminary student, she transforms back into her true nature form: the beautiful young daughter of wealthy Cossack. As the same student is tasked with praying over her body for three nights, alone with the corpse in a locked chapel, he encounters a string of horrors.
Suspiria – When Suzy Bannion travels to Germany to study at a prestigious dance academy she discovers that her new school is actually a front for a sinister coven of witches. Directed by Dario Argento, the 1977 movie is drenched in luxurious candy hues, playing an important role in setting somewhere in between a dreamy and a nightmarish mood.
Sleepy Hollow – Tim Burton’s 1999 immersive ride into one of America’s most celebrated folk tales. Though not exclusively about witches, the plot and visuals of this gothic-horror film are propelled by the theme of witchcraft.
The Love Witch – A black comedy about a modern-day witch who uses sex magic to make unwitting men fall hopelessly in love with her while decadent jewel tones and gorgeous pastels burst from each technicolor frame.