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Review: THE WORST WITCH (1986)

By Meredith Grau – http://lalalandhistory.blogspot.com/

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Best Bad Quote:

“Has anybody seen my tambourine?”

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I have something to say that many of you are not going to like. JK Rowling is a plagiarist! Long before the world of Hogwarts, there was Miss Cackle’s International Academy for Witches. Before Dumbledore and Voldemort there was Miss Cackle and her evil sister Agatha. And before the bespectacled Harry Potter and his owl, there was the disheveled, pig-tail wearing Mildred Hubble and her rejected gray cat. And JK claims that she “doesn’t know” where her ideas come from. From Jill Murphy, you stupid twat! Don’t even play.

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Based on a series of children’s books begun in the 1970s, the Made for TV Movie The Worst Witch graced the boob tube in 1986 and forever changed a generation. Admittedly, beings that it was specifically made for kids, the finished product is neither complex nor impressive. Yet, for a film that just breaks an hour in length, it still leaves one heck of an impression.

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“Growing up isn’t easy,” as the opening title song tells us, and it seems that witches have it just as rough as us humans. Poor Mildred (Fairuza Balk) can’t seem to do anything right. She wakes up late, she bumps into people in the hallway and makes them fall down like dominos (doh!), and her Potions & Spells teacher hates her because she is totally incompetent. Added to this, she is constantly terrorized by Ethel Hallow– the school suck-up and bully– who becomes her arch nemesis. (Draco much)?

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The dramatic arch of the film only goes from about A to B and back again, despite the introduction of Agatha, played by Charlotte Rae (in a dual role as the lovable Miss Cackle). Crazy, pink-haired “Aggie,” her hyper-active sidekick Delilah (Su Elliott), and the other under-enthused hippie, witch pals do little more than dance around a cauldron singing (badly) about how they are going to take over the academy and… and… teach witches to be “filthy, evil, wicked, AND cruel!” Burn. If you took half a dozen old bags and gave them each a box of red wine with a straw, you would get a party about as raging as this one.

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In the meantime, Mildred does many clumsy things, turns Ethel temporarily into a pig (score), and earns a spot at the Halloween Celebration in the choreographed broom formation. This moment, at circa 45 minutes, is what audiences have been waiting for: the arrival of the always impeccable Tim Curry as The Grand Wizard, whom the little girls have been fondling themselves over from the film’s beginning. (Apparently “witch” sexy is different from… anything sexy). Curry makes the whole film worthwhile with his, as always, orgasmic performance of “Anything Can Happen on Halloween.” There are no words to describe his intense liquid voice nor the tingly, psychedelic special effects that will burn your eyes. It is a sterling example of unforgettable erotic wizardry. And you WILL try to forget.

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Despite its many, many, many faults, the sorry SpFX and hammy acting make this film both terrible and terribly adorable, possibly because of lil’ Fairuza’s cute-as-a-button sweetness. After Mildred unexpectedly foils Aggie’s kind of sort of but not really evil plot, she is awarded a bright-winged flight with the Grand Wizard, and as they soar into the sky, the audience is left wondering– due to the Curry’s smoldering, sinister grin– just what Mildred’s life will deteriorate into after she is molested by the witch world’s most eligible bachelor. The answer, of course, can be found in the film’s underrated sequel: The Craft.

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Is WW a home run? No. Still,viewers will not only triumph in learning the power of good over evil, the value of standing up for yourself, and the importance of general supernatural tolerance and the annihilation of quadruped racism (tabbies deserve love just as much as black cats!), but they will also walk away with an impressive soundtrack of pure, bleeding sex appeal. Anything can happen on LSD.

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Rating:

3 out of 5 Titilating Tambourines

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Couldn’t find a trailer for the film, but here is Tim Curry in not so rare form:

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One Response to “Review: THE WORST WITCH (1986)”

  1. Natasha says:

    Not that I’m against it, but why do you think they had an American girl as Mildred?

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