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The Best Witch Movies of All Time

In honor of ‘Hocus Pocus 2,’ here are the most spook-tacular witchy women in film history


spinner image Kathy Najimy, Bette Midler and Sarah Jessica Parker star in Hocus Pocus 2
(Left to right) Kathy Najimy as Mary Sanderson, Bette Midler as Winifred Sanderson and Sarah Jessica Parker as Sarah Sanderson in "Hocus Pocus 2."
Matt Kennedy/Disney+

 

Nearly three decades after 1993’s Hocus Pocus introduced the spooky Sanderson sisters, Bette Midler (76), Kathy Najimy (65) and Sarah Jessica Parker (57) are reuniting for a sequel, streaming on Disney+ on Sept. 30. Armed with their dark magic skills — including electrokinesis, an enhanced sense of smell and a hypnotic siren song — the witches are set to hilariously terrorize a new generation of young Salem residents. The sequel will also welcome characters played by Ted Lasso Emmy winner Hannah Waddingham, Veep costars Tony Hale (51) and Sam Richardson, and a trio of RuPaul’s Drag Race contestants playing drag versions of Winifred, Mary and Sarah Sanderson. But before you fall under the Sandersons’ spell once again, check out this coven of other cinematic witches, who run the gamut from silly to scary and make for a perfectly enchanting watchlist.​

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The Wicked Witch of the West in ‘The Wizard of Oz’ (1939)

The actress: Margaret Hamilton

Who is she?: Ranked fourth on the American Film Institute’s list of the greatest movie villains of all time, the green-skinned baddie has become the prototypical image of a witch, complete with a pointed black hat and a broomstick. Spurred on by Dorothy’s accidental killing of her sister, she’s all about vengeance, complete with a hoard of flying monkeys to help her in her nefarious quest. Over the years, there have been attempts to soften her image, as in the musical prequel Wicked, which comes to the big screen in 2024, starring Broadway’s Cynthia Erivo as Elphaba. But nothing will ever compare to the Scarecrow-burning, Toto-threatening original.

Special powers: Shooting fireballs from her hands, flying on a broomstick, spying on her enemies using a crystal ball

Watch it: The Wizard of Oz, on Prime Video, Apple TV, HBO Max

Don’t miss this: It’s Ha-Ha-Halloween in These Classic TV Sitcom Episodes

Gillian Holroyd in ‘Bell, Book and Candle’ (1958)

The actress: Kim Novak

Who is she?: In this quirky romantic comedy set in 1950s Greenwich Village, witches and warlocks masquerade as the neighborhood’s beatniks. Gillian (Novak) is a modern-day witch who owns an African art gallery, and when she finds out that her charming book publisher neighbor Shep (Jimmy Stewart) is engaged to her old college nemesis, she casts a love spell on him. The only catch: If she falls for him in return, she’ll lose all her powers!

Special powers: Using her cat Pyewacket to cast spells, summoning strangers

Watch it: Bell, Book and Candle, on the Criterion Channel

spinner image Cher, Jack Nicholson, Michelle Pfeiffer and Susan Sarandon star in the film The Witches of Eastwick
(Clockwise from left) Cher, Jack Nicholson, Michelle Pfeiffer and Susan Sarandon in "The Witches of Eastwick."
RDB/ullstein bild via Getty Images

Alex Medford, Sukie Ridgemont and Jane Spofford in ‘The Witches of Eastwick’ (1987)

The actresses: Cher, Michelle Pfeiffer, Susan Sarandon

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Who are they?: Based on John Updike’s novel, this dark comedy follows a trio of single Rhode Island women — sculptor Alex (Cher), newspaper columnist Sukie (Pfeiffer) and music teacher Jane (Sarandon) — who meet weekly to drink and commiserate about their singlehood. They don’t realize that they’re actually witches, and their words conjure a devilishly perfect man named Daryl Van Horne (Jack Nicholson), who seduces each member of the trio in turn. And, oh yeah, he might actually be Satan.

Special powers: Causing thunderstorms and earthquakes, summoning mysterious seducers, using voodoo dolls to cause their enemies pain

Watch it: The Witches of Eastwick, on Prime Video, Apple TV

Don’t miss this: The 15 Best Scary Movies to Watch Right Now

The Grand High Witch in ‘The Witches’ (1990)

The actress: Anjelica Huston

Who is she?: Huston stars as the head witch in charge in this surprisingly fright-filled children’s movie based on Roald Dahl’s book. You won’t want to mess with her once she’s removed her glamorous facade to reveal the monstrous creature underneath, complete with a bald head, claws and square, toeless feet. During a vacation in the seaside town of Bournemouth, an 8-year-old boy (Jasen Fisher) and his grandmother (Mai Zetterling) stumble upon a convention of witches who pretend to be the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. Their real goal: Turn all the world’s kids into mice and stamp them out.

Special powers: Creating potions to transform children, using her enhanced sense of smell to sniff them out, torturing and killing her underlings to instill fear in the survivors

Watch it: The Witches, on Prime Video, Apple TV

Sally and Gillian Owens in ‘Practical Magic’ (1998)

The actresses: Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman

Who are they?: Sisters Sally (Bullock) and Gillian Owens (Kidman) live in a small Massachusetts town with their eccentric aunts, played by Stockard Channing and Dianne Wiest. Rumors of their witchy status have plagued the family since the day, centuries earlier, when their ancestor used magic to protect herself from being hanged by her Puritan peers. Ever since, they’ve lived with a curse that puts quite a damper on their love lives: Any man they fall for will be doomed.

Special powers: Making potions, using forbidden spells to revive corpses, performing exorcisms to get rid of evil spirits

Watch it: Practical Magic, on Prime Video, Apple TV, HBO Max

Jadis, the White Witch in ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’ films (2005-10)

The actress: Tilda Swinton

Who is she?: Swinton brought her icily imperious persona to the world of C.S. Lewis as the evil Jadis, who has usurped the throne of Narnia and placed the land under an eternal winter — without a Christmas. With her Aryan looks and tyrannical quest for power, Jadis has been compared to Adolf Hitler or Satan, and she’s known for being cruel and vindictive. To wit: She creates a Secret Police force, tempts kids with Turkish delight, and even decorates her house with the petrified stone corpses of her enemies. Whoa, that’s evil.

Special powers: Turning her enemies into statues, controlling and manipulating the cold and ice, reading minds, knowing the Deplorable Word, which could kill every living creature on the planet if she decides to speak it aloud

Watch it: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, on Prime Video, Apple TV, Disney+

Wanda Maximoff (a.k.a. Scarlet Witch) in the Marvel Cinematic Universe films (2014-)

The actress: Elizabeth Olsen

Who is she?: A refugee from the fictional Eastern European nation of Sokovia, Wanda is a powerful sorceress with a twin brother named Pietro (a.k.a. Quicksilver) and the ability to harness a powerful force known as Chaos Magic. While originally a member of the terrorist organization HYDRA, she later teamed up with the Avengers to fight Ultron. The Scarlet Witch played second fiddle in many of the MCU movies, but she took center stage in the Emmy-winning Disney+ limited series WandaVision, which saw her and hubby Vision (Paul Bettany) living a seemingly idyllic suburban existence that cycled through decades of sitcom tropes over the course of nine episodes as she coped with her trauma.

Special powers: Reading and altering the thoughts of her enemies, using telekinesis to move objects, levitating, generating force fields

Watch it: The Marvel Cinematic Universe films on Disney+

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