A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 244 – The Worst Witch (1986)

The Worst Witch (1986) – October 30th, 2010

What a fucking amazing movie this is. Really, it’s a thing of beauty, assuming your standards of beauty are star wipes and Charlotte Rae in a pink wig. I know mine are, so this movie here is a total gem. It’s based off of a series of British children’s books, but I’ve never read them. Oh, I’ve had the opportunity. We’ve got them at work. But having seen this first, I feel like if I read the books something will be ruined somehow. I’m not sure what, since I freely admit that this movie ruins itself every two minutes, but something would get ruined. I’m certain. So I’ve never read the books and I’ve only seen snippets of the older of the two series that have been made. Nope, I’m a purist.

I should admit here that I had seen a good portion of this movie well before I started dating Andy. My parents, in a bizarre attempt to keep my brother and me from watching things they didn’t want us watching on cable (once we got it a million years after everyone else), subscribed to the Disney channel. This is bizarre for two reasons: My parents never really liked Disney, and they never password protected the channel lock on the cable box, so MTV was mine for the viewing. But at some point, somewhere near Halloween I’m sure, this movie was played. And I saw the only two things that mattered to me at the time when deciding if this was worth watching: Tim Curry and Diana Rigg. Who the fuck cares about the rest of this trip through a fever dream? It’s got Tim Curry! And Diana Rigg! Diana Rigg, people. Emma Peel herself, playing a sort of proto-Snape-ette. Given how incredibly awesome she usually is, it’s a little tough to imagine Rigg chewing scenery, but by god, she’s good at it. Tim Curry I expect that from. He revels in it. So yeah. I saw the two of them and somehow they cast a happy wash over what I saw of it.

Of course, I’m pretty sure I missed the musical numbers. Like, all of them. I did not remember them when I saw this later on. And when this sort of thing goes on in a movie, you’d think you’d remember that, right? Or maybe I blocked it out. That’s a possibility too. Anyhow, some years later I happened upon a review of this movie, written by a guy who watched it while very sick and somewhat delirious, and it had me laughing so hard I hurt myself. And I remembered having seen the movie. And so we looked for a copy and we bought it. Probably so I could share the pain with Andy. We do love really bad movies, and well. It’s hard to top this.

To be honest, there’s no way I can review this half as well as the review I linked to. But in the spirit of completeness, here’s a quick summary of the plot and highlights. The story is about poor Mildred Hubble, a student witch at Miss Cackle’s Academy. It was filmed in the UK, but given the wide variety of accents it’s never terribly clear precisely where said academy is. I suspect they get the girls who wash out of Hogwarts. Mildred is clumsy, forgetful, nervous and also she fucks shit up on a regular basis just by being present. Her utter unsuitability for the field of witchcraft is demonstrated by things like her inability to not scream when other girls make faces, her uneven braids, and her tabby cat (which is totally not her fault – the school ran out of black cats on First Year Kitten Day). Miss Hardbroom (yes, really), played by Rigg, totally has it in for her because she sucks and can’t make potions or fly on a broomstick or do much of anything. Miss Cackle, played by the one and only Charlotte Rae, has a soft spot for her, however, and keeps her at the school for kicks.

One of the other students tries to get Mildred in trouble, so we’ve got a minor villain there, but it’s all very weak villainy. A bunch of evil witches headed by Miss Cackle’s evil twin sister (also played by the one and only Charlotte Rae, but in a pink wig and southern accent) are going to try and take over the school, that’s the major villain. They’re pretty weak too, since most of what they do is cavort in the forest and do a musical number. The song is probably the most evil they actually manage to do. Tim Curry shows up for a big Halloween bash but Mildred fucks that up right quick, which ends up leading to her turning the evil witches into snails and saving the day. No, I’m not going to bother explaining how it’s all connected. It’s not like the movie cares.

The whole thing is utterly ridiculous. Putting aside the musical numbers and the “special” effects involved in Tim Curry’s three minutes of shame, there’s also the flying, which is some of the worst blue/green screen work I’ve ever seen. There’s “terror tag” and an egg in a glass of water and a dubbed-over pig and oh god, I almost forgot Miss Cackle’s niece, with her bizarre accent and broom phone. Watching this movie is an utterly unique experience. I cannot put it any other way. It defies words at times and all I can say about it is “Oh my god, this movie!”

October 30, 2010 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , , , , , ,


  1. the link to the review at x-entertainment doesn’t work. Try without https
    this one works

    Comment by Doc Wheat | October 31, 2010 | Reply

    • Weird, I tested it last night and it worked fine for me. I’ll go change it.

      Comment by ajmovies | October 31, 2010 | Reply

    • Ah. The problem was wordpress “helpfully” changing link code again. First the quotes, now it’s taken out “http:” from each link (when I went to edit the youtube link was borked too). Thanks, wordpress!

      Comment by ajmovies | October 31, 2010 | Reply

  2. Fairuza Balk, who showed such promise as Dorothy in “Return to Oz”?!

    Comment by Doc Wheat | October 31, 2010 | Reply

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