The final Halloween Horrors Warm-up re-post originally came to us courtesy of Mandi Fallon….. aka The Wife.
For her piece, Mandi discussed her affections for the 1986 Disney Channel movie, The Worst Witch. Part movie review, part recollection piece, it definitely hit the nail on the head when it came to staying connected to the spirit of the Halloween season. Mandi not only tells us why she loves the film, but also gave examples of why it reminds her of the holiday/season that she loves just as much.
Mandi will be joining us once again for our 2016 Halloween Horrors series. She kinda had to. I left her no choice.
When I was asked to write a submission for Horror and Sons for October, I did not have to think twice about it. There were two things I knew for certain: One, I could not say no. I am the Mother of the ‘Sons’ part of this site, so Mr. Horror (Editor’s Note: I think that’s me.) would not let me slide. Two, I knew I would have a chance to write a short piece about one of my most favorite Halloween time movies – The Worst Witch. In all seriousness, I was honored to be given the opportunity. So, with my eyes closed tight, here goes…..
Picture it – Ocala, FL, 1986. No, it wasn’t Sicily and my name isn’t Sophia Petrillo. I’m pretty sure The Disney Channel wasn’t prevalent in Sicily in 1986. Truth be told, my family didn’t ‘have’ the Disney Channel either. I’m sure some of you may remember the little black cable boxes of the 80’s with the twist dial. I’m going to also guess that some of you (or your parents) figured out the same trick that we thought we were geniuses for – sticking a thin piece of cardboard in the slot between the top of the box and its face. I don’t know why or how it worked, but when we did that, voila! Instant free (coughillegalcough) cable! But I digress…….
In 1986 The Disney Channel and HBO brought us, what is in my opinion, the most awesome Halloween classic of the 1980’s – The Worst Witch. Based on a children’s book from 1974 by Jill Murphy, the movie starred Fairuza Balk (The Craft, The Waterboy), Diana Rigg (The original Avengers TV series), Charlotte Rae (yes, THAT Charlotte Rae, Mrs. Garrett from The Facts of Life), and the incomparable Tim Curry (Clue, The Rocky Horror Picture Show). The story follows Mildred Hubble (Balk), a young witch who enters Miss Cackle’s Academy for Witches, and is a mishap-laden outcast despite her very best efforts. Of course, in true movie-land style, by the end she redeems herself by saving the school from the evil hands of Miss Cackle’s identical twin sister, Agatha (both played by Rae). This results in Mildred being honored by the Grand Wizard (Curry) in front of the entire school. It is a feel-good children’s story of magical proportions. (Also, sidenote: If you are a fan of the Harry Potter series, I can almost guarantee that JK Rowling was a fan of this series of books or the movie itself. Of course the HP series is very intricate and complex, but the basic premise is a complete and blatant rip-off of our subject movie/story. That said, I LOVE the HP novels, so don’t get it twisted!)
If you have never seen this movie, now you have the story in a nutshell. What you DON’T have, and what words cannot express in this writing, is the absolute wonderment of an in-movie music video of Tim Curry singing “Anything Can Happen on Halloween”. This movie is VERY Halloween-ly atmospheric and awesome, but there are two things about it that get me every time – the dubbed cat meows for the witch’s feline companions and this music video. You NEED to see this video. It is full of high school TV Production class special effects. Tim Curry wears a bowtie that is a bat. He yearns for his tambourine. It’s hairy…scary….creepy….crawly. You just have to see it – it is an absolute masterpiece.
Much to my husband’s dismay, this movie is a must-watch for me every Halloween season. It takes me right back to my childhood. Some of my fondest memories are of Halloween time (which is why I am probably such a horror lover today) and the anticipation I would have for this movie and The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, all courtesy of the magic of that little piece of cardboard.
Even if you’ve never seen this movie and it invokes no memories, do yourself a favor and watch The Worst Witch. If nothing else, it’s worth several laughs! And hey……anything can happen on Halloween – your dog could turn into a cat.
Happy Halloween everyone!