Tuesday Muse, News & Reviews: Samhain Edition!

Greetings of Hallows, my lovelies. I trust you are celebrating appropriately tonight, or when true Samhain (the cross quarter) comes on November 7th. Hallow tide is best celebrated over a period of a few days, in my opinion.

My birthday has just passed and I am still celebrating! For one thing I have not baked a cake yet and plan to do that tomorrow. Tonight, after I come home from my class at the botanical garden where I am studying towards a certificate in horticulture, and after my weekly viewing of American Horror Story: Cult at a friend’s house, I will re-do my altar to honor my ancestors. A sad task but one which, this year, I am looking forward to with a sort of solemn sense of duty and hope.

I am planning some reviews for you this week (I have just finished Alice Hoffman’s new novel, The Rules of Magic, the prequel to Practical Magic, and it’s pretty wonderful), and maybe some news. But first things first: it is worth noting that months’ worth of binding spells, targeting our dangerous president Trump and all who aid and abet him,  have shown some dramatic results this week, with the first or what will be a series of indictments brought on my the Mueller investigation. May the committee’s work proceed apace and may justice be done, may truth be revealed and may integrity be restored once again to our government. So mote it be!

Today I offer a list of my favorite witchy movies for this witchy week of wonders. I am currently reading Ronald Hutton’s new book The Witch: A History of Fear from Ancient Times to the Present, which explores, in scholarly in-depth fashion, the legacy of the figure of the witch around the world. So, these movies, which of course often traffic in stereotypes, are really resonating with me right now. Feel free to chime in and add your own favorites!

  1. 20090326-The CraftThe Craft (1996) Really, is there any movie about witches that has had so much influence? Teenage girls in the late 1990s began to flock to the internet (newly made accessible to all) for spells, lore and any and all things related to witchcraft. The current witchy revival is still influenced by this film’s aesthetics.
  2. The Wicker Man (1973) Okay, it’s not specifically about witches, but its treatment of old-world paganism practiced by contemporary Scottish folk has had profound influence on the contemporary pagan community. It’s downright weird, thrilling and beautiful.wickermanorig1b
  3. Practical Magic (1998) Romantic, funny and suspenseful, this popular movie is based on Alice Hoffman’s gorgeous novel of the same name; who wants to bet how quickly the prequel novel will be made into a sequel film? My bet is within two years; I am toying with trying to acquire the rights so I can try my hand at the screenplay. I was disappointed that the film version of the first novel left out the very interesting details of the lives of Sally’s adolescent daughters; but then again, by bringing the aunts “to life” and giving them such vibrant personalities (due in part to great performances by Dianne Wiest and Stockard Channing), the film just may have made that prequel novel possible.
  4. The Blair Witch Project (1999) This low-budget work of genius inspired a whole new genre of horror (the “found footage” film) and left many audiences terrified, and not a few people convinced it was all real (despite ample evidence to the contrary). The sequel, Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows is also worth checking out, and if you didn’t I did a bit of witchy advising on that film, well, now you do.
  5. love-witch-the-2016-001-nude-dancing-circle-ORIGINALThe Love Witch (2016) Anna Biller’s unique and original film is a sort of homage to 1970s horror, and a wonderful satirical take on the image of the witch as seductress. Biller, who also designed the costumes and props, studied Wicca ceremonies to give the film a chilling air of authenticity. I can’t recommend this colorful, clever, irreverent film highly enough. You may find it shocking, but that is also part of its charm.
  6. The Witch (2016) A beautifully made, horrifying tale of a family that emigrated from England to the New World, a land awash in superstition and harsh reality in equal measure. When bad luck overtakes their farm, their teenage daughter is suspected of witchcraft. The film’s authentic dialect and quiet intensity may be off-putting to some viewers at first, but stay wth it and you’ll be rewarded with some of the most intensely horrific scenes imaginable. A witch movie for the ages, with excellent performances and stunning cinematography.

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