Halloween and Christmas seem to be the only time of the year when older films start showing up on channels other than Turner Classic Movies. In the month-long celebration of the former, October means horror. Scares, chills and spine-tingling cinematic journeys into the dark side to meet up with the nefarious Other threatening the very foundation of society. But within horror can be found humor.
Narrowing it down even further, if Halloween to you means nothing without witches, then you may even occasionally find a comedy about your favorite All Hallow's Eve icon popping up as you flip past the seemingly never-ending selection of shows about pawnbrokers, toddlers wearing more makeup than Joan Collins and people who earn a living buying a lifetime of belongings of others.
While an argument can be made that no movie ever made about witches is going to be as horrific or as funny as watching as watching their black-hearted doppelgangers collectively known as the Kardashians, one thing is for certain: you will hear better dialogue in these movies.
"I Married a Witch" is one of the all-time classic comedy films about witchcraft. This movie starring the only person to date to win a Best Actor Oscar for a horror movie, Fredric March, provides a link between literature and television. Based on a novel titled "The Passionate Witch," the 1941 black and white TCM standard tells the story of a beautiful young witch falling in love with a mortal that would become the basis for the sitcom "Bewitched" a couple of decades later.
Of course, if you are willing to stretch your definition of a comedy film to include musical comedy with a more than healthy helping of horror and drama, then you can opt for a famous movie witch that precedes even the one that Frederic March marries. Not that "The Wizard of Oz" features a particularly humorous witch, but she does probably fit the image in your head more fruitfully than the one played by Veronica Lake.
The same may be said of Kim Novak in "Bell, Book and Candle." This is a strange little comedy about witches. I find it much easier to buy Kim Novak as a witch dabbling in black magic than I do as a white witch. Enjoy the physical charms of Ms. Novak, but if you are looking to find comedy gold in a movie about witches during Halloween or any other season, wait for the appearances by Jack Lemmon. His madcap and decidedly atypical performance is what makes "Bell, Book and Candle" so oddly endearing.
The scariest thing about "Hocus-Pocus" may be that Sarah Jessica Parker almost manages to actually be sexy. Almost. She should stick with the pale goth look; it does wonders for resizing her schnoz. Parker is supposed to be the only halfway hot member of the trio of witches accidentally brought back to life only to wreak havoc on the ancestors of those who hunted them into the afterlife many centuries earlier. Kathy Najimy steals the show as always and Bette Midler gets what may arguably be the best big screen showcase of her singing talents.
Keep in mind that any actual practitioner of magic or self-described Wiccan might want to avoid any of these comedy films about witches. While "The Wizard of Oz" and "Hocus-Pocus" are certainly the most steadfast stereotypical, none of them present a particularly progressive view of the positive attributes of witchcraft associated with Pagan beliefs that were corrupted for political purposes during the early Christian fertilization process.
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