The Worst Witch

This made-for-HBO movie hit the airwaves in 1986, a real boom year for Halloween specials, and became a Disney Channel staple. Really a movie, not a special, but Halloween Special fanatics revere it as a model of cheesiness and "so bad it's good" charm. It's really not THAT bad, honestly. It's rather entertaining on its own terms.

It's fondly remembered for two major reasons:

1. Nostalgia. Plenty of people remember enjoying this movie as kids. Of course, kids will watch pretty much anything, really. ANyone with kids knows that kids LOVE plenty of stuff that really, really sucks. This is better than the Halloweentown series that Disney eventually replaced this with in their Halloween lineup, but it's not exactly a great film, even as "kids movies" go. However, the oh-so-80s special effects and music make me feel like a kid again, which is half the point (in some cases, the whole point) of watching old Halloween specials. And, heck, even if it's not great, at least it never gets particularly dull, either. There are plenty of far shorter specials that I have a harder time sitting through.

2. Camp value. There are "good" bad movies, and "bad" bad movies. Few specials, good or bad, are as much fun to watch as this one. It's not just Tim Curry's presence that makes me feel that they should be showing this in theatres at midnight and encouraging the audience to shout back and throw things at the movie. Fairuza Balk's presence doesn't hurt much, either. It's cheesy and campy and just screaming for audience partici....pation. If one of our local revival theatres in Chicago starts showing this and encouraging audience participation (and why not? They've done singalongs of Mary Poppins and The Little Mermaid, both of which I attended), I'd be there with bells on. Maybe they could make it a double feature with Rocky Horror.

The plot concerns a young girl at a school for witches (which some have likened to Hogwarts, naturally). The special effects have "1980s" written all over them, and Tim Curry has a music video in the middle of it. What's not to like, other than the fact that the songs aren't that great (though they ARE rather catchy), the plot isn't that involving, and the jokes aren't that funny?

The best line is saved for last, as Tim Curry, a real big shot in the witch world, tells our young heroine that "you're not the worst witch in school anymore!" What a compliment!

Still, camp value fanatics and 80s nostalgia people shouldn't miss this. After Harry Potter made people remember it, The Worst Witch actually became a TV series about 20 years after the movie came out. I haven't seen it, so I won't comment.

Here's Tim Curry's totally rad music video, "Anything Can Happen on Halloween."

And here's part one of the whole thing, with the "growing up isn't easy" song.


Anonymous said...

Holy crap was that "music video" amazing! I am sitting alone cracking up.

Anonymous said...

This was one of my favorites. I was so in love with Tim Curry!


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